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Module QXE-3114:
Dystopian Fiction

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Andrew Webb

Overall aims and purpose

Dystopian Fiction is a third-year undergraduate module which gives students the chance to study a range of modern and contemporary texts in the field of dystopian fiction. It has a particular focus on texts that address climate change and environmental collapse, but also includes texts that register dystopia through the lens of gender, right-left wing politics and technology. There is also the opportunity for students to reflect on the impact of dystopian fiction on different readerships including the 'young adult market', and the limitations of the genre in addressing contemporary concerns. The module begins with texts from the contemporary period. By the end of the course, students should have a good understanding of the features of dystopian fiction, the ways in which it registers contemporary concerns such as climate change and gender inequality, its role in contemporary culture, as well as the early-twentieth century origins of contemporary writing in the field.

Course content

Students will study a range of modern and contemporary texts in the field of dystopian fiction. These will include texts that address climate change and environmental collapse, but also those that register dystopia through the lens of gender, right-left wing politics and technology. For example, these would typically include:

-Welsh dystopian texts such as Cynan Jones’ Stillicide

-contemporary dystopian fiction, for example, Sophie Mackintosh’s The Water Cure, and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road

-mid-century classics of the genre, which might include Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, J.G. Ballard’s The Drowned World, Anna Kavan’s Ice, and Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451

-early twentieth-century dystopian fiction, which might include George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and E.M. Forster's The Machine Stops.

Assessment Criteria

threshold

Typically, work graded D- to D+ (or 40 to 49) will show many of the following qualities: • Unsure and lacking in confidence when discussing ideas • Referring to the subject in question in a superficial manner • Making an effort to provide fairly balanced answers • Some points in the argument irrelevant to the topic • Little evidence of background reading • Some uncertainty over language and syntax • Strengths and weaknesses fairly balanced; occasionally clumsy and unimaginative

good

Typically, work graded B- to B+ (or 60 to 69) will show many of the following qualities: • Discusses ideas adeptly • Most of the arguments about a specific field are well-aired • Displays knowledge of the subject in question; the answer is relevant • Shows analytical and clear thought • Gives evidence of relevant reading • Shows accuracy in expression with mastery over language. • A few minor errors here and there. • Signs of creative thought deserve a higher position within the class • In creative work: shows signs of originality, having understood the requirements of the medium • Plans of well-balanced and full answers, despite some gaps

excellent

Typically, work graded A- to A** (or 70 to 100) will show many of the following qualities: • Discusses ideas with confidence and precision • Demonstrates maturity and sophistication • Displays deep knowledge of the subject in question; the answer is totally relevant • Shows independent, analytical and clear thought • Gives evidence of substantial and relevant reading • Shows great accuracy in expression, displaying total mastery over all aspects of the language • Shows occasional signs of brilliance and originality of thought • In creative work: displays considerable originality • Command over medium; may have potential for publication/production

C- to C+

Typically, work graded C- to C+ (or 50 to 59) will show many of the following qualities: • Discusses ideas, but without much confidence • A respectable effort but not showing any unusual talent; a few flashes of originality here and there • Makes reference to the subject in question, but some important matters not mentioned • Fairly clear thought on most occasions, and the arguments relevant on the whole • Evidence of having read some works associated with the field in question • Quite accurate expression, though the points may sometimes be presented clumsily • Signs of conscientious work deserve a higher position within the class • In creative work: not having quite mastered the requirements of the medium • Evidence of planning in the answers, but a lack of coherence at times; undisciplined and unsure at times

Learning outcomes

  1. critically analyse a range of modern and contemporary texts in the field of dystopian fiction

  2. consider how contemporary concerns such as climate change and gender inequality are registered in the texts

  3. reflect on the impact of dystopian fiction on different readerships, and the role of the genre in contemporary society

  4. Apply appropriate literary and contextual theories to the study of individual authors and texts.

  5. Select, digest and organise material and produce a consistent and coherent argument, presented in essay form both to a deadline and under exam conditions

  6. understand how the genre of dystopian fiction has evolved over the last century

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
INDIVIDUAL PRESENTATION Presentation on Aspect of Dystopian Fiction

Students will make a 12-minute presentation on an aspect of dystopian fiction (to be individually agreed between student and module convenor), to be followed by 5 minutes of questions.

40
ESSAY End of semester essay

A 3000-word essay from a list of essay questions to be provided by the course convenor.

60

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
Seminar

A 2-hour seminar each week in which we will discuss critical questions relevant to the week's primary text, alongside relevant secondary material.

22
Private study

Students are expected to read the primary text in private study time, alongside recommended secondary criticism, in preparation for the weekly seminar.

178

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Extract and synthesise key information from written and/or spoken sources in English / Welsh and/or the target language. (Benchmark statement 5.14)
  • The ability to organise and present ideas within the framework of a structured and reasoned argument in written and/or oral assignments and class discussions. (Benchmark statement 5.14)
  • Critical skills in the close reading, description, reasoning and analysis of primary and secondary sources in the target language and/or English or Welsh (incl. filmic, literary and other sources). (Benchmark statement 5.13, 5.14, 5.15)
  • Competence in the planning and execution of essays, presentations and other written and project work; bibliographic skills, including the accurate citation of sources and consistent use of conventions and appropriate style in the presentation of scholarly work. (Benchmark statement 5.10, 5.14, 5.15)
  • The ability to gather information, analyse, interpret and discuss different viewpoints and to place these in a wider socio-cultural and/or geo-historical and political and/or socio-linguistic context and to revise and re-evaluate judgements in light of those of the course leader, certain individuals or groups studied and/or fellow students. (Benchmark statement 5.13, 5.15 and 5.16)
  • The ability to write and think under pressure and meet deadlines. (Benchmark statement 5.15)
  • The ability to write effective notes and access and manage course materials including electronic resources / information provided on online learning platforms and library resources. (Benchmark statement 5.15, 5.16)
  • The ability to comprehend, critically engage with and apply relevant theoretical concepts to materials being studied. (Benchmark statement 5.10)
  • The ability to engage in analytical, evaluative and original thinking. (Benchmark statement 5.14)
  • The ability to organise and present ideas and arguments in presentations, classroom discussions and debates. (Benchmark statement 5.14, 5.16)

Resources

Resource implications for students

Students will need to buy a copy of the primary texts (or borrow a copy from the library). Many of these are available very cheaply second-hand.

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: