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Dystopian Framework of Sir Thomas More’s Utopia, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s 1984: A Foucauldian Discourse Reading


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Češljaš, Robert. (2018). Dystopian Framework of Sir Thomas More’s Utopia, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s 1984: A Foucauldian Discourse Reading. Diploma Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of English Language and Literature. [mentor Polak, Iva].

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This paper proposes that utopian/dystopian writing should be understood as contributions to an ongoing discourse of the socially conceivable. After determining the utopian genre historically and establishing the relevance of Foucauldian discourse to the study of utopian/dystopian literature, the paper provides a discursive reading of Thomas More’s Utopia, George Orwell’s 1984, and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. These readings explore both the discursive functions of each text, as well as the functions of discourse within each different social order portrayed; focusing attention to discourses of social roles, education, and history. In conclusion, the paper treats the three texts not as separate contributions to a genre, but as elements of a continuous discourse. Although unbalanced and evolving, the discourse serves to map the boundaries of the social imagination – the socially perfected conditions, or dystopic inversions, that can or ‘should’ be imagined; hope for restitution and possibility for societies gone horribly wrong; and the inevitable forces involved in encouraging progress or hindering it. Considered in this manner, three observations emerge. The discourse of utopia/dystopia place gender and sexuality as principal forces of social stability and suggests that their manipulation is essential to maintaining alternate social orders. By contrast, the role of race in social context can neither be completely acknowledged nor challenged within the classic, Eurocentric utopian/dystopian writings. Thus, race is reduced to the margins, establishing it as a ‘normal,’ almost trivial category. Finally, while the discourse proposes systemic understandings and critiques of alternative social orders, it offers only transient, individualistic accounts of resistance or social change. In this sense, while utopic/dystopic texts are often viewed as socially and politically engaging tracts, ultimately, the discourse serves to endorse the social and political status quo.

Item Type: Diploma Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: utopia/dystopia, Foucauldian discourse, social control, power/knowledge, discourse of the socially conceivable
Subjects: English language and literature
Departments: Department of English Language and Literature
Supervisor: Polak, Iva
Date Deposited: 26 Jan 2019 10:05
Last Modified: 26 Jan 2019 10:05

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