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Fall Semester with Mark Schenker: A Survey of Literary Utopias (Zoom)
September 21 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Please join Wilton Library online via Zoom as Mark Schenker takes us on a guided tour of several literary utopias and dystopias spanning several hundred years.
Ever since Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) created the word “utopia” in the early 16th century, the double meaning of his coinage has informed centuries of Utopian literature in English. (The Greek outopia means “no place,” while eutopia means “good place.”) Since More’s Utopia, writers such as Jonathan Swift and Margaret Atwood have created imagined worlds that reveal the dystopian reality behind the utopian dream.
After beginning with More’s masterpiece, Schenker will survey other literary works from each of the past six centuries—books that engage the quest for societal perfection, the limits of human aspiration, and the various meanings of the old saying that “the perfect is the enemy of the good.”
The schedule for the series is below (please note that the sessions are not all on the same day of the week and also stretch from September to November):
Sept. 7 – Utopia, Sir Thomas More
Sept. 14 – Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift
Sept. 21 – Erewhon, Samuel Butler
Sept. 28 – The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
Oct. 3 – King Lear, William Shakespeare
Oct. 10 – Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel
Nov. 2 – Cloud Cuckoo Land, Anthony Doerr.
Mark J. Schenker, having served in various decanal roles in Yale College since 1990, retired at the end of June. A former lecturer in the English Department, he received his Ph.D. from Columbia University with a concentration in 19th-century and early 20th-century English Literature.
These lectures are made possible with the support of the Literary Series in Memory of Amy Quigley.