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Publisher's Summary

Can literature change our real world society? At its foundation, utopian and dystopian fiction asks a few seemingly simple questions aimed at doing just that. Who are we as a society? Who do we want to be? Who are we afraid we might become? When these questions are framed in the speculative versions of Heaven and Hell on earth, you won't find easy answers, but you will find tremendously insightful and often entertaining perspectives.

Utopian and dystopian writing sits at the crossroads of literature and other important academic disciplines such as philosophy, history, psychology, politics, and sociology. It serves as a useful tool to discuss our present condition and future prospects - to imagine a better tomorrow and warn of dangerous possibilities. To examine the future of mankind through detailed and fascinating stories that highlight and exploit our anxieties in adventurous, thought-provoking, and engaging ways. From Thomas More's foundational text Utopia published in 1516 to the 21st-century phenomenon of The Hunger Games, dive into stories that seek to find the best - and the worst - in humanity, with the hope of better understanding ourselves and the world. Great Utopian and Dystopian Works of Literature delivers 24 illuminating lectures, led by Pamela Bedore, Associate Professor of English at the University of Connecticut, which plunge you into the history and development of utopian ideas and their dystopian counterparts. You'll encounter some of the most powerful and influential texts in this genre as you travel centuries into the past and thousands of years into the future, through worlds that are beautiful, laughable, terrifying, and always thought-provoking.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2017 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2017 The Great Courses

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Fascinating Lectures on Utopian and Dystopian Literature

First of all, in regard to the "hijacked by feminism" complaint made by another reviewer: I'd hardly say that a discussion of Charlotte Perkins Gilman or Margaret Atwood constitutes a hijacking by feminism (and I'm not particularly sympathetic to 2nd and 3rd wave feminism). I'm politically oriented toward the right, so a feminist tirade would turn me off. But this installment of the Great Courses is not a feminist tirade in whole or in part.

What it is: An utterly fascinating and absorbing series of lectures on utopian and dystopian literature, from Thomas More and Jonathan Swift through Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Edward Bellamy, Yevgeny Zamyatin, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Ursula Le Guin, and on up through the present. Several films (such as Soylent Green) and other pop culture artifacts (the Hunger Games novels and the attraction of young adult readers to dystopian fiction today) are discussed.

The professor is clearly in love with her subject, and her voice is bubbling over with excitement and enthusiasm. It's infectious. It makes the listener excited and enthusiastic as well. I couldn't stop listening. At the end of every 30 minute lecture, I kept saying to myself: "Maybe just one more lecture." But then 30 minutes later I'd be saying that same thing. All in all, this is an excellent product, and I look forward to more great stuff from the Great Courses series.

26 of 27 people found this review helpful

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A very enjoyable and educational audiobook

I won a free Audible credit from the Audiobook Addicts facebook group. I chose The Great Courses title Great Utopian and Dystopian Works of Literature. I have enjoyed many of the Great Courses before and the topic really appealed to me. Professor Bedore does a fantastic job of presenting the material while keeping it very interesting for the listener. The course has twenty-four lessons totaling over twelve hours.

The course begins with a discussion of what Utopian and Dystopian mean. The next lesson starts the discussion of the first Utopian work by Thomas More. There are several lessons covering the other Utopian writers such as Swift and H. G. Wells. The course then moves on to the Dystopias. It covers much more than Orwell's 1984. The breath of the course is really amazing. It covers The Hunger Games and the Apocalyptic works of this century. The final lesson is on the future of the two genres.

The accompanied course guide, in Adobe pdf format, is amazing. It is over two hundred and forty pages of information. Each lesson has an outline of what is covered and a Suggested Reading section as well as Questions to consider. The Bibliography at the end is incredible. It is going to populate my to-read list for years to come.

Great Utopian and Dystopian Works of Literature was a very enjoyable and educational audiobook. I would recommend it for anyone who reads Utopian or Dystopian genres.

27 of 29 people found this review helpful

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Very good review of the genre of literature.

Very good review of the genre of literature. a must for writers and for anyone that wants to know more about what they are reading. It is of course only and over view and doesn't go into extremely great detail... But it is only 24 lectures long and there are many thousands of books in this genre. But some and start reading today.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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A marvelous introduction to a new genre for me

Would you listen to Great Utopian and Dystopian Works of Literature again? Why?

I would certainly listen to Prof Bedore's intelligently scripted, passionately delivered lectures again. It has hooked me and I am now watching the TV series The Handmaids Tale, something I may not have chosen before. I will also dust off my Clockwork Orange DVD and Brave New World now features on my audible wish list.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The obvious delight that the lecturer takes in delivering her subject. I need this kind of passionate delivery, I am not a great reader or an intellectual - seeming to fall more for conceptual, perhaps visual ideas, I was driving in my car in traffic ridden Johannesburg when the Prof delivered her take on Brave New World and A Clockwork Orange and I was instantly drawn into the spectacle of the Kubrick Masterpiece and resolve now to visit A Brave New World

Which scene was your favorite?

Many scenes captivated me. I had seen 1984 years ago and the film left me with a bleak, morose impression. I had not thought much about Utopian or Distopian narratives in intervening years up to now, but Prof Bedore's presentations has changed that. I am also intrigued by works of apocalyptic visions like Cormic McCarthy's the Road. Which I will now seek out, and the movie too.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

The best and the worst of all possible worlds

Any additional comments?

I am not sure if there is more of Professor Bedore's work available on audio on this topic, if not, there should be

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Highly topical, informative, and entertaining

Where does Great Utopian and Dystopian Works of Literature rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This was one of the most enjoyable audiobook experience I have had.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

This audiobook, or rather lecture series made me genuinely excited about exploring Dystopian works of literature. The treatment seemed comprehensive but not tedious. Prof Bedfore was communicated her passion about the topic with clarity and humor. She expanded my view of this literature well beyond the basics. <br/><br/>It is also a highly topical since Dystopian works from The Handmaid's Tale to the Walking Dead, to the Hunger Games, to Wayward pines seem to be very popular now. <br/><br/>She also relates Utopian literature to the many failed attempts over the year to create real-life Utopias. <br/><br/>Finally, I am shocked that I never stumbled upon Russian author Zamyatin's Novel "We" which is features extraordinarily beautiful writing. One can see the direct line between WE and 1984 and Brave New world. <br/><br/>I felt enlighten after listening to the Prof's lectures.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Well, yes, if it is possible

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Angela
  • Knoxville, TN, USA
  • 10-13-17

Fascinating series

I listened to this alongside another Great Courses lecture series, How Great Science Fiction Works, and they are both excellent and informative, well worth the credit; they sometimes cover the same writers but it's interesting to hear both viewpoints. I noticed that some reviewers have marked Professor Bedore down for including feminist and gender-related utopian and dystopian fiction. But this is just what made this series especially interesting for me. Her discussion of Octavia Butler really stands out as a highlight, although every lecture is packed with information and delivered with enthusiasm. Overall it's clear that people who have traditionally been regarded as second class citizens for long periods of history have a completely different take on surviving a society that doesn't value them, and in turn they give us a whole new take on the meaning of utoptia or dystopia. And this is ultimately what makes science fiction stand out from other genres - new ideas, new ways of looking at ourselves. After listening to this series, I have added a lot of books to my &quot;to read&quot; list, and I will definitely be listening to this one again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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interesting but . . .

The professor was enthusiastic and I was certainly exposed to several stories of which I was not familiar. There were a few stories that she noted were not distopian, but seemed to just be stories she enjoyed, while some stories in the distopian cannon were not included.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Misleading title but interesting course

The title of the course was a little misleading. "A postmodern critic of Utopian and Dystopian Literature" would have been a better name. There is a slight political bias present but that was probably unavoidable due to the subject matter. I enjoyed the course and it helped me to see the genre differently.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Wonderful introduction to The Great Courses

This was my first book from The Great Courses and I must say it was phenomenal. Utopian/dystopian novels are my favorite genre so it was really cool to hear a history or timeline of this type of story. I was so excited when I realized the audiobook came with a PDF complete with a list of "suggested readings" after each chapter! This is definitely something to read if you enjoy dystopias and are looking for more, less well known, stories (my wish list just got 20x longer)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Good but disappointing.

Overall I loved this course, but it was far from perfect. Too meandering and omits too many classic dystopian texts. But Professor Bedore knows her subject and is an excellent communicator with a pleasing voice. Worthwhile for any fans of science fiction and apocalyptic fiction looking to explore the genres deeper. Of the books discussed here that I have not previously read, I expect to read about half of them.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr
  • 06-27-17

I have been challenged to rethink.

I've had trouble with this book. It has forced me to look again at some of my views & values regarding Gender types, Young adult literature and many of my political views. I have not always liked what I've heard, but isnt that the whole point?

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-20-17

A barrage of literary jargon.

If you’re interested in this lecturers opinions then I can recommend it. If you’re seeking factual details I advise anyone to look elsewhere.