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Dystopian Literature

4. Dystopia as Satire

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In this module, we explore the connections between utopia, dystopia and satire, focusing in particular on: (i) the sense in which both utopias and dystopias – and satire – highlight the imperfections of present-day society; (ii) Thomas More's Utopia (1516) as social and political satire; (iii) Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games (2008-10) as social and political satire; (iv) the influence of Lucian of Samosata (c. 125-80) and Menippean satire on dystopian fiction; (v) the (serious, political) purpose of satire; and (vi) Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange (1962) as social and political satire.


In this course, Professor Nicole Pohl (Oxford Brookes University) provides an introduction to and overview of dystopian literature. In the first module, we introduce the concepts of 'utopia' and 'dystopia' themselves, as well as the idea of dystopias as "utopias which have decayed". In the second and third modules, we think about two major types of dystopia – dystopias of totalitarian control (e.g. Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four) and dystopias of environmental collapse (e.g. H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds). In the fourth module, we explore the connection between dystopia and satire, looking in particular at Thomas More's Utopia (1516), before turning in the fifth and sixth modules to consider the history of dystopia from the first use of the word in the mid-18th century to the emergence of young adult dystopian fiction in the 21st. In the seventh and final module, we consider two emerging trends in dystopian fiction today – climate change fiction (or 'cli-fi', for short) and solarpunk.


Prof. Nicole Pohl is Professor in Early Modern Literature and Critical Theory at Oxford Brookes University. Her research focuses on utopias and utopianism.

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APA style

Pohl, N. (2022, May 12). Dystopian Literature - Dystopia as Satire [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Pohl, N. "Dystopian Literature – Dystopia as Satire." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 12 May 2022,

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