Science fiction: Utopias and Dystopias

What do these books have in common?
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This lesson contains 13 slides, with interactive quiz, text slides and 3 videos.

time-iconLesson duration is: 120 min

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What do these books have in common?

Slide 1 - Slide

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What do these books have in common?

Slide 2 - Open question

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Dystopian Novels
Opposite of Utopia (ideal world) - Thomas More in 1516

The central themes of dystopian novels generally fall under these topics:
Government control (1984 - George Orwell)
Environmental destruction (Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood)
Technological control (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep - Philip K. Dick)
Survival (Lord of the Flies by William Golding)
Loss of individualism (The Giver - Lois Lowry)

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The term “utopia” was coined by Sir Thomas More in his 1516 book Utopia, which was about an ideal society on a fictional island. 
Characteristics of Dystopian society:
• Propaganda is used to control the citizens of society.
• Information, independent thought, and freedom are restricted.
• A figurehead or concept is worshipped by the citizens of the society.
• Citizens are perceived to be under constant surveillance.
• Citizens have a fear of the outside world.
• Citizens live in a dehumanized state.
• The natural world is banished and distrusted.
• Citizens conform to uniform expectations. Individuality and dissent are bad. 
 • The society is an illusion of a perfect utopian world.

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1984 - George Orwell
Totalitarian state 
No freedom (not even your thoughts are private)
Telescreen - "Big Brother is Watching You"

Another example: Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale

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Slide 6 - Video

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"If you want to really hurt you parents, and you don't have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I'm not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”
Kurt Vonnegut
American Writer 
Studied "The Shape of Stories"

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Slide 9 - Video

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Slaughter-house Five goes all over the place. Draw a line and make sure they understand that. 
Kurt Vonnegut's writing
Simplistic and dry
Social equality 
Need for common decency
Main villain: dehumanisation 

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Vonnegut believed: simplicity is a lost art, one that when utilized correctly could convey every emotion in human language in only a few words.

He targets dehumanization through technology, sexuality and violence as his main villains.
Assignment Dystopian Novels
Read or Listen to "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut
In groups of 4 do the questions on pages 75+76 of your book. Answer them in the shared file in magister (only one person needs to do this - choose a colour to identify your group). 

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Slide 13 - Video

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