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Dystopian Literature

3. Types of Dystopia: Environmental Collapse

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In this module, we continue to explore different types of dystopia, focusing here on dystopias featuring environmental or ecological collapse. As we move through the module, we look at several dystopian novels that feature environmental collapse of some kind: H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds (1898), William Golding's Lord of the Flies (1954), Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968), Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale (1985), Cormac McCarthy's The Road (2006), and James Dashner's Maze Runner series (2009-16). At the end of the module, we consider some dystopian novels in which environmental collapse has had an impact of women's fertility in particular, including P. D. James' The Children of Men (1992), Jennie Melamed's Gather the Daughters (2017), Louise Erdrich's Future Home of the Living God (2017), and Joanne Ramos' The Farm (2019).


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.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Pohl, N. (2022, May 12). Dystopian Literature - Types of Dystopia: Environmental Collapse [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Pohl, N. "Dystopian Literature – Types of Dystopia: Environmental Collapse." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 12 May 2022,

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