Gender and Sustainability in Utopian/Dystopian Literatures in English

lgerm2726  2022-2023  Louvain-la-Neuve

Gender and Sustainability in Utopian/Dystopian Literatures in English
5.00 credits
15.0 h
An introductory knowledge of English literature and a good proficiency in English (advanced level, B2 + in terms of the Common European reference framework).
Main themes
This course offers a survey of contemporary literatures in English through the analysis of several representative works from distinct geographical/cultural areas. This course also includes the showing and discussion of adaptations for film and/or television.
Learning outcomes

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :

1 - Students will be expected to show their ability to relate texts that illustrate one or more literary currents to the historical and literary contexts explored in the course.
- They will have to produce an analysis that demonstrates their familiarity with the issues raised by the course, and with the poetics through which those issues are expressed.
- The module is also indirectly meant to increase the students' lexical skills. Their analyses will therefore have to reflect a command of the English language that corresponds to their level (Masters), as well as a good grasp of the various cultural concepts discussed in the course.
Utopian thought has often been associated with naïve or static totalitarian models. However, while dystopian texts and films/series expose a new kind of political literature, which examines the dangerous possibilities inherent in the utopian project, other creative texts provide one with inspiring alternatives. This course analyzes a number of key dystopian and utopian texts to raise gender-related and sustainability issues and consider how gender roles and practices can contribute to sustainability in a posthuman world of climate change. Through the comparative study of several utopian, dystopian, and ecotopian literary texts (including the works of Gilman, Huxley, Orwell, Butler, McCathy, Atwood), we consider visions of better worlds in the way they emerge as frightening warnings or prioritize alternative modes for the future. Utopian thought is a crucial means of understanding the past, the anthropocene, and our transcultural future as regards questions of gender, social, cultural and political organization. Through guided in-class discussion, readings and creative exercises, students will attempt to imagine their own viable utopias. This year’s class will focus on rituals and how they shape communities. Rituals structure social life, they express a community’s values via symbolic gestures. How do fictional works depict and reconnect with rituals? We’ll compare how a number of (dis)utopian novels foreground rituals (purification, rites of passage, prayer, meals, birth ceremonies), thereby emphasizing how ritualistic modes facilitate group cohesion and cooperation.  We will also look at the ritualistic functions of writing/storying.
Teaching methods
Ex-cathedra class. Interactive modules. Students are expected to do the required readings beforehand so as to be able to participate actively in classroom discussions.
Evaluation methods
Group assignment, oral presentation, written exam.
Other information
Teaching material : Secondary literature linked to the topic of the course. Reading of the selected literary works and of scholarly articles. Coursebook available at DUC.
Teaching materials
  • syllabus disponible à la DUC
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Learning outcomes
Certificat universitaire en littérature

Master [120] in Anthropology

Master [120] in Communication

Master [60] in Modern Languages and Literatures : German, Dutch and English

Master [60] in Modern Languages and Literatures : General

Master [120] in Sociology

Master [120] in History

Advanced Master in Gender Studies

Master [120] in Psychology

Master [120] in Population and Development Studies

Master [120] in Ethics

Master [120] in Philosophy

Master [120] in Modern Languages and Literatures : German, Dutch and English

Master [120] in Modern Languages and Literatures : General

Master [120] in Journalism