Course description

Writers have long imagined new worlds as a way of changing this one. As Percy Shelley said way back in 1821 creative writers are "the unacknowledged legislators of the world." This course asks how literature depicts and intervenes in the world and models new worlds. It reads works addressing a range of pressing issues climate and the environment; social and economic inequality; immigration; questions regarding race gender and sexuality. We begin with Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and end with N.K. Jemisin's Hugo Award-winning The Fifth Season. In between we read science fiction (Ursula Le Guin and Kim Stanley Robinson) realism (James Joyce) romance (Nathaniel Hawthorne) and examples of hybrid genres such as Claudia Rankine's Citizen An American Lyric.


  • Associate of the Department of English and Co-Chair, Seminar in Dialectical Thinking in the Humanities, Mahindra Humanities Center, Harvard University

Associated Schools

  • Harvard Division of Continuing Education

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