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Great Utopian and Dystopian Works of Literature

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  304 ratings  ·  67 reviews
12 hours 26 mins

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,
Audible Audio, 13 pages
Published February 3rd 2017 by The Great Courses
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Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Haven't been reading a lot recently--I'm supposed to be working on my dissertation, hah!, but my Russel T. Davies-like procrastinatory block is preventing me from doing little more than watching The Leftovers on my iPhone and straightening the files in my filing cabinet. Oh, and shredding, which I love to do. If I'm feeling bad my default is to clear clutter. I'm a gifted declutterer, because I'm ambidextrously also a hoarder in my heart, which allows me to understand both sides of the equation. ...more
You can read/listen to this book without having read the works beforehand, but it really adds a lot to your understanding of the text if you take the time to read them first.
Apr 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
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
Great course on Utopian and Dystopian works, with a lot of Canadian content, which pleases me to no end. Lots of good stuff that I've already read (shout out for 2 chapters on my main lady, Octavia Butler), and stuff that I will look into.
Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a decent series overall, and one I'd recommend to anyone interested in the topic. Really, I only have two (mostly minor) criticisms:
1) Several of the books discussed aren't actually either utopias or dystopias. Bedore does a good job of using these books to talk about elements of utopia or dystopia, but that doesn't change the fact that "City of Ember" or most of Ursula K. Le Guin's books aren't dystopias.
2) Bedore ignores a number of works that actually are utopian or dystopian in
Rob Hermanowski
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Teaching Company's Great Courses are always very high quality, and this very recent addition to their large collection of collegiate level courses is no exception. Dr. Pamelor Bedore is a very engaging and extremely well-qualified professor for this material, which covers literature of the last few centuries dealing with both utopian and dystopian settings. Often, both elements are present in the same work, and Bedore's selections give me ideas for many more books to read. Her enthusiastic ...more
12 Hours and 27 minutes.

A delight! I'm disappointed to see that this is Bedore's only Great Courses lecture series since she is engaging and had me adding books to my queue throughout.
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As a writer of utopian and dystopian fiction myself, I just had to get my hands on this the moment I saw it pop up on Great Courses. And I must say — I was not disappointed.

I must admit that I’m quite a slow reader. It’s not that I struggle to keep attentive (although, admittedly, that is also a problem), but that I just don’t have the time to sit down and finish things. However, Great Utopian and Dystopian Works of Literature — or GUDWOL, as I shall henceforth refer to it — changed all of that.
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have picked up few courses on Audible, one of which was Great Utopian and Dystopian Works of Literature.

I must say I have thoroughly enjoyed the content and narration of Ms Pamela Bedore and her enthusiasm of the subject.

That said, it is worth mentioning that most thorough parts of the book are feminist utopia and YA dystopias. I have added multiple books to my future reading list from it, and learned a good deals, but I wish it examined more subjects.
Jul 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-heard
I guess this counts as a book? (I mean, I would have read a printed version of this course bc it sounded interesting, so I’m counting it! )

A very good overview of utopian and dystopian literature from Sir Thomas More’s 16th century Utopia through the 21st century’s The Hunger Fames. Pamela Bedore is a very engaging lecturer. BUT I disliked how often “I’m not going to spoil the ending” was uttered in this course. It really limited the scope of some of the lectures.
Einar Nielsen
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent lecture series for everyone that loves utopias, dystopias or science fiction. We start with Utopia by Thomas Moore and end with the YA dystopian craze of the 21st century. I was surprised on how much this intersected with lectures, that I have listened to, on science fiction but still, the lecturer presented the works in new ways and gave me a lot to think about. Highly recommend if you are a lit history nerd.
Carol Chapin
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I started to become more curious about this “genre” (more on this later) of literature because of two happenings. First, YA literature seems to recently have become saturated by dystopian stories (some good, some bad). The “Hunger Games” and “Station 11” come immediately to mind. Secondly, last year I was made aware of, and read, one of the “big three” early dystopian works – “We” by Zamyatin. (The other two, “Brave New World” and “1984”, were already well known to me.)

I usually lump these
Rylan Perrott
Aug 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Was quite frustrated with this one.

Some of the lectures were really engrossing and did get some good book recommendations, like "We" by Yevgeny Zamyatin.

On the other hand I was quite disappointed. It wasn't a comprehensive look at the genre, it was very much focused on North American and feminist literature. While interesting would have liked a more global and wider take on the genre.

Additionally the heavy-handed intersectional feminist analysis throughout the lectures was
wholly unnecessary and
Lorenzo Barberis Canonico
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faves-and-goats
one of the best courses I’ve ever taken. Seriously! Dr. Bedore’s love for the subject matter is so apparent in all of her lectures: she’s engaging, nuanced, and very funny. I encourage all of you sci-fi fans out there to check it out because studying the characteristics of utopias and dystopias gives us a great framework to understand how we can use fiction to speculate about the future. This course is so mind-expanding (I know I use this word too much) because it surveys so many wild ...more
Apr 28, 2017 rated it liked it
More about theory than actual literature. Not what I expected.
Jack Hansen
Excellent presentation of 24 lectures in a series covering old classic literature and novels of today that are either utopian or dystopian with aspects of utopia or dystopia in the world. Some authors incorporate an utopian society that turns out to be dystopian as in H. G. Wells science fiction novella, Time Machine, published in 1895. Utopia describes a place of seeming perfection, an ideal way of life. Dystopia describes a place or society that experiences suffering and turmoil under a ...more
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks

Great Utopian and Dystopian Works of Literature
By Pamela Bedore

I wish this course had been available when I was in college! I would have taken it, then taken it again just for fun. The course begins at Thomas More’s Utopia and ends in the present day, covering a number of the most important classic utopias such as More’s work, Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Gilman’s Herland, and Hawthorne’s The Blythesdale Romance, then LeGuin’s The Dispossessed. For dystopia, HG Wells gets lots attention, but the
Carl  Palmateer
Dec 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Critical Literary Analysis

I did not like this course. I would have rated it lower but if (see following information) it is what you like it is good and deserves more than a 3 thus my compromise rating.

I was expecting a discussion of the stories and what the majority turned out to be was a deconstruction/analysis with an exploration of power dynamics, gender roles and the like, especially as they reflect on society today. It was more a a literary analysis course in which the subject matter was of
Marshall Wayne Lee
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
_Great Utopian and Dystopian Works of Literature_ by Pamela Bedore receives four stars from me. The 24 lectures are informative and engaging.

This is a course for anyone interested in these forms of literature. However, if you are not interested in a slightly academic slant, this might not be for you. I did it because I'm considering doing a Ph.D. in dystopian or post-apocalyptic literature. I thought this would help me get to know more about the studies in this area, and it did. I learned a lot
Tracy Rowan
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Boy, I enjoyed this course! I began it on the heels of reading a couple of dystopian works by Paolo Bacigalupi, and found that it helped me understand a bit more about the literary antecedents of those stories. Bedore begins with the father of the genre, Thomas More. His Utopia defines the genre with its ambiguous presentation of a perfect society that is literally nowhere (Utopia comes from the Greek and means "no place.")

The Utopian literature discussed by Bedore in these lectures are all
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
3.5 stars.

This course has good information, and, obviously, you'll get the most out of it if you actually read the books Bedore talks about. I found the last few courses on Atwood and Collins the most engaging because I read those books so I know the basic story. She does give you a summary of each of the novels she talks about, but overall, I found myself less interested in those lectures. However, this is likely also because I hated Bedore's delivery. She frequently talks to the listener as if
Tammam Aloudat
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love the teaching company's courses and I have done before a (somewhat) similar one, How Great Science Fiction Works, and liked it a lot as it pointed me to several sci-fi books I enjoyed later.
This one, on utopias and dystopias, was equally good and the delivery was outstanding. I am jealous of Dr. Bdore as her job is to read and think about books of popular literature. I want that!! And she does a good job analysing and presenting on them in a systematic and interesting way.

The course runs
Phil Keeling
Jun 21, 2019 rated it liked it
I genuinely liked the majority of this series of lectures: great insights from a prof who clearly has a ton of passion for her topic. However, there were some moments that I found seriously befuddling. First, her discussion of YA cyberpunk novels with only a passing reference to the original, seminal work by William Gibson that gave the genre its name. Why spend so much time focusing on derivative work while ignoring their origins?

This is not, mind you, a stab at YA in general, as I found her
I got this because it was on sale on audible. I was a little hesitant about a lecture series on literature since it's not like I'd be reading along with the works discussed. But my senior seminar for my english degree was on utopia/dystopia, so I was already pretty familiar with about 80% of the works mentioned to some extent. This thus served for me as more a refresher. For those purposes, I quite enjoyed that. The lecturer looks at these works in a way that gives something for everyone. If ...more
Phil Greaney
Feb 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love this course. I have to congratulate Pamela Bedore - she's great. She introduces some serious theory into the course - but it's directly related to the texts, it's accessible and brief. I don't have an especial interest in science-fiction or other 'genre' writers - and of course, some aren't 'genre' works at all - but it appeals to me. Loved the bit on Orwell, good old 1984.

I would go as far as to say that many teachers could learn from Bedore and her approach, not just teachers of
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The only bad thing I have to say about this book is that it made me add more books to my "to-read" list (if this is bad?). I envy the students Pamela Bedore teaches utopian/dystopian fiction to at her college and hope they realize what an interesting speaker and knowledgeable professor they have for a teacher.

The experience of reading (listening to) this book has helped me see some of my favorite books in a new light (and refreshed my memory of them along the way), but also made me question the
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
This series of 24 lectures on utopian and dystopian works of literature was a good inclusion in my November non-fiction reading. At first I found the lecturer a challenge as she was too hyped up but about a quarter of the way in, I became engaged with the material and became less annoyed with the professor's delivery. I learned quite a bit about dystopia and utopia and how they are not mirror images of each other but rather often are both at the same time. I was familiar with many of the books ...more
Aimee (Book It Forward)
This is a wonderful audio lecture series for anyone who enjoys Utopian, Dystopian or Apocalyptic fiction. It is informative and very interesting. The professor that is giving the course is very well spoken and her voice is easy to listen to. This lecture series gave me insight into books in this genre I have read and also gave me many new books and short stories to add to me To Be Read list! The only reason it took me so long to get through it is that I have a 5 year old who couldn't listen to ...more
Andrew Wadsworth
Nov 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
One man’s utopia is another’s dystopia. The term “utopia” literally means no place, and I am of the belief that they cannot exist in the real world. Although they are fun to imagine, any attempt to create one will inevitably result in a dystopia as you must sacrifice some personal freedoms to create them.

This is a great overview of the history of utopian literature and its impact on the real world. Many of the discussions of violence and sexuality are quite uncomfortable, even apocalyptic and
Charlie Webster
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
This course is excellent for people interested in Utopian philosophy, and utopian and dystopian fiction. If you're not a fan of those genres this course might seem a little long and dense to you. I really enjoyed and felt that it provided me with a lot more information. I have to agree with another reader's review on this site. It's frustrating that there was such a strong focus on Western literature. Besides that complaint, I really enjoyed the lessons. The professor is very passionate and her ...more
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