Department of English UG Module Directory (2020)

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In an Ideal World: Utopias from Plato to the Present

Level 6 (15 credits)

The utopia is both a literary genre and a means of thinking about political ideals and practice. This unit will look at ways in which fiction appropriates and engages in debates on political practice, and the way political argument is articulated through fictional and metaphoric devices. We will look at the development of the genre across time. Texts studied may include Plato's Republic, More's Utopia, Bacon's New Atlantis, Winstanley's Law of Freedom, Scott's Millennium Hall, Morris' News from Nowhere, Le Guin's The Dispossessed, Calvino's Invisible Cities, and Ahsan's Shy Radicals.

Preparing for this Module and Approximate Costs

Please try to make a start on reading Plato's The Republic before the start of term. We won't be discussing it until week 2, but it's long and intense.

I recommend for the purposes of this seminar Robin Waterfield’s Oxford World’s Classics edition of The Republic (Oxford University Press, 1994), because of its lively tone and useful reading apparatus. But there are other perfectly serviceable translations. Note that there's often a difference in terminology, itself quite interesting.

Primary texts costing around £50. These costs can be often be reduced by purchasing items second-hand or borrowing them from the Library. No additional costs anticipated.

Learning Context Long Seminar
Semester 1

1. Seminar Participation, 10%
2. Group Presentation, 15%
3. Essay (3,500 words), 75%

Mode of reassessment Standard
Contact Joad Raymond