Margaret Atwood's Dystopian Fictions
General Catalog Course Title:
Freshman Seminars
Terms Offered:
Fall 2012

Canadian author and Booker Prize winner Margaret Atwood has published more than 40 books of poetry, criticism and nonfiction prose, and narrative fiction over the course of a writing career that extends from the 1960s to the present. In this seminar, we will read her most well known novel, The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), as well as her two most recent ones, Oryx and Crake (2003) and The Year of the Flood (2009). In each of these “near future” fictions, Atwood follows contemporary political, social, and environmental trends to their potential dystopian conclusions, asking: What if the U.S. were controlled by religious fundamentalists or by bioengineering corporations? What might be the possibilities for resistance in this brave new world? What if environmental degradation destroyed human fertility, or a manmade pandemic wiped out the majority of the human race? Who might survive, and how might they try to rebuild the world? We will consider Atwood’s post-apocalyptic imaginings with an eye to how their narrative form contributes to their meaning. Seminar members will participate through lively in-class discussion, online posts, oral and written summaries of published reviews and criticism, and a 3-4 page final reflection.

For more detailed information about classes, please visit the UC Berkeley Online Schedule of Classes.