Gender and Sustainability in Utopian/Dystopian Literatures in English

lgerm2726  2019-2020  Louvain-la-Neuve

Gender and Sustainability in Utopian/Dystopian Literatures in English
Note from June 29, 2020
Although we do not yet know how long the social distancing related to the Covid-19 pandemic will last, and regardless of the changes that had to be made in the evaluation of the June 2020 session in relation to what is provided for in this learning unit description, new learnig unit evaluation methods may still be adopted by the teachers; details of these methods have been - or will be - communicated to the students by the teachers, as soon as possible.
5 credits
15.0 h
Bragard Véronique;
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.

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

  • 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.

The contribution of this Teaching Unit to the development and command of the skills and learning outcomes of the programme(s) can be accessed at the end of this sheet, in the section entitled “Programmes/courses offering this Teaching Unit”.
"Although not everything we imagine may be achievable, what is never imagined cannot be achieved" (Bill Ashroft)

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 (Jeff Hearne 2014). 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.

Through the comparative study of several utopian, dystopian, and ecotopian literary texts (including the works of Gilman, Huxley, Orwell, Ishiguro, Butler, Atwood, Waldman), we will consider visions of better worlds in the way they emerge as frightening warnings or prioritize alternative modes for the future. The course has a chronological organization.  We begin with Thomas More and conclude with the series Black Mirror and Years and Years. 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.

Starting with definitions of sustainability and gender studies, this course considers the ways in which the contemporary and the posthuman can be explored in an imagined ustopian future that addresses the major components of human-nature relations, ways of life and social structures suggested by these literary texts. Through guided in-class and online discussion, readings and researched writing, and group assignments, students will attempt to imagine their own viable utopias.
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
Advanced Master in Gender Studies

Master [120] in Journalism

Master [120] in Communication

Certificat universitaire en littérature

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

Master [120] in Anthropology

Master [120] in History

Master [120] in Ethics

Master [60] in Modern Languages and Literatures : General

Master [120] in Philosophy

Master [120] in Sociology

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

Master [120] in Psychology

Master [120] in Modern Languages and Literatures : General