Ursula Le Guin: The Dispossessed
Several years after her death, the power and imagination of Ursula Le Guin’s writing appears more relevant than ever. In her collection The Wave in the Mind, she states, “To think that realistic fiction is by definition superior to imaginative fiction is to think imitation is superior to invention.” Taking her at her word, we will use Le Guin’s classic science fiction novel The Dispossessed to investigate the power and pitfalls of futurist imaginings. Two antagonistic and isolated worlds collide, presenting a context in which to think through claims of utopia, governance, power, and approaches to those who are different. In what ways does fiction offer a space for invention? How are threads of political thought and social conflict woven into a narrative? Do the genders of the author and characters impact the speculative horizons of the story? In what ways, if at all, does the construction of alternative worlds make space for asking questions about the human condition that we experience?
In this class, we will investigate these questions through a close reading of Le Guin’s The Dispossessed and several accompanying texts, including writings by Mikhail Bakunin, Emma Goldman, and Jo Freeman, exploring how speculative futures provide a lens of inventiveness through which to investigate a shared present.
Course ScheduleTuesday, 6:30-9:30pm ET
January 31 — February 21, 2023