Utopia and Dystopia

 “Eager souls, mystics and revolutionaries, may propose to refashion the world in accordance with their dreams; but evil remains, and so long as it lurks in the secret places of the heart, utopia is only the shadow of a dream”

Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Utopia and Dystopia

Facing History School English Department 2008-2009 Course Description

Kristina and Jeff


Utopia and Dystopia is a literature course that will look at novels, poems, plays, short stories and poems that explore the themes of Utopia and Dystopia.  First semester we will consider how societies form and then what happens when struggles arise in communities to threaten the ideals or vision of the society.  We will focus on enhancing our reading skills using the 7 habits of effective readers and also strengthen creative and formal writing skills. This course will prepare students for successful completion of panels and/or the ELA regents.  **Pre-requisite:  At least 4 credits in English and successful completion of at least 2 English portfolios.


In this course, we will focus on the following essential questions:

  • What are the elements of a utopian society? 
  • What are the elements of a dystopian society?
  • How does one create a utopian society? 
  • What happens when the ideals of a community goes awry?

Required texts include (but are not limited to):

  • Various poems and short stories
  • Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
  • The Crucible by Arthur Miller
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding


Expect homework every night.  Much of the reading in this class needs to be completed at home. Your grade will be broken down in the following categories:

  • 30% Class work (class activities, participation, journals, etc.)
  • 30% Essays, projects and tests (but all must be completed)
  • 25% Homework
  • 20% Quizzes

You will present portfolios in January.  This class also prepares students for their panel presentations.  Students who want to continue on to 12th grade year and Senior Institute must successfully complete their panel presentation.  Panels are credit bearing and are not included in the grading for this class.  Panels are credit bearing and successful completion of portfolios is necessary for promotion to the next grade and for graduation. ***These are suggested pre-requisites.  Placement also depends on skill level, attendance and scheduling.