Have a Question? Contact the Humanities Office or an Academic Unit


Academic Year: Fall/Winter 2014/2015

Term: 1

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Mary Silcox

Email: silcox@mcmaster.ca

Office: Chester New Hall 330

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 27314


Office Hours: Tues. 3:00-4:30, Thurs. 11:00-12:00, or by appointment

Course Objectives:

This course traces the evolution of the Utopian genre through English literature from the Renaissance to contemporary writing.  As we proceed we'll consider questions such as what characteristics join these very different works into a group; what particular qualities of style and imagination are crucial to the success of a utopian or dystopian work; the relation of satire, politics, feminism, communism, ecology, science and science fiction to utopian literature; the limitations of style imposed by the utopian mode; and the reasons behind the vitality of this long-lived genre.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:


Thomas More, Utopia, Penguin Classic (1516)

Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward 2000-1887, Oxford Classics (1888)

William Morris, News From Nowhere, Oxford Classics (1890)

Charlotte Gilman, Herland, Dover (1915)

Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, Vintage Canada (1932)

Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed, Harper Voyager (1974)

Joanna Russ, The Female Man, Beacon Press (1975)

Sarah Hall, The Carhullan Army, Faber & Faber (2007)




Participation                                                         10%

Reading Tests                                                     10%

Seminar                                                                 25%

Short Essay (1200 wds) due Oct. 22                    20%

Research Essay (2800 wds) due Nov. 26           35%

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

This is a self-reporting tool for undergraduate students to report absences DUE TO MINOR MEDICAL SITUATIONS that last up to 5 days and provides the ability to request accommodation for any missed academic work. Please note, this tool cannot be used during any final examination period. You may submit a maximum of 1 Academic Work Missed request per term. It is YOUR responsibility to follow up with your Instructor immediately (NORMALLY WITHIN TWO WORKING DAYS) regarding the nature of the accommodation. If you are absent for reasons other than medical reasons, for more than 5 days, or exceed 1 request per term, you MUST visit your Associate Dean's Office/Faculty Office). You may be required to provide supporting documentation. This form should be filled out immediately when you are about to return to class after your absence.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at mcmaster.ca/msaf/. If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail sas@mcmaster.ca. For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

September 10 and 17 – Introduction, no seminars


September 24 -- More, Utopia



October 1 -- Bellamy, Looking Backwards



October 8 -- Morris, News From Nowhere



October 15 -- Gilman, Herland



October 22 -- Huxley, Brave New World



October 29 -- Huxley, Brave New World



November 5 -- Le Guin, The Dispossessed



 November 12 -- Le Guin, The Dispossessed



November 19 – Russ, The Female Man



November 26 -- Hall, The Carhullan Army



December 3 -- Conclusions

Other Course Information:


Essays are due in class on the due date, but I will accept them in person only and without penalty for one week following the due date.  After that week is up I will not accept any essay.