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Sophie Harrington's Utopia experience – University of Reading

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  • Sophie Harrington

    Finding Utopia

Sophie Harrington's Utopia experience

Since studying for her GCSEs, Sophie was interested in the concepts of utopias and dystopias. Having read such modern classics as The Hunger Games, 1984 and Divergent, she wanted to study this genre in more depth.

Sophie was enthusiastic about the Utopia module, especially as it gave her an insight about the background of her area of interest.

"Studying this module really gave me an overview as to what came before. Beginning with Thomas More's Utopia, the namesake of the genre, and continuing to the 21st Century, the module allowed me to discover the Utopia's written origin, as well as understand how tropes of the genre changed over time. "

The Utopia module examines a wide range of texts dealing with the topic, and Sophie enjoyed the debate and discussion which this encouraged.

"I enjoyed the range of perspectives such an expanse of books demonstrated. What constitutes a utopia or a dystopia really varied from book to book-of course there were similarities, either a change to or complete eradication of a monetary system being one of them-yet despite this, what a utopia looked like varied widely from book to book."

One of the key things which Sophie enjoyed about this module was the continuing relevance of the subject in today's world.

"I think Utopian writing always has been and always will be relevant to society. As humans, we are constantly pushing boundaries and trying to improve ourselves and the societies in which we live. The Utopian genre allows us to play around with ideas about how to do this in writing-it's a 'safe space' to try out new ideas and concepts."

The Utopia module has inspired Sophie to delve further into the world of utopian and dystopian literature, now with a greater and deeper knowledge of the subject.

"The Utopia module definitely made me want to keep reading the genre, and since I've been lucky enough to stumble upon other utopic/dystopic texts in other modules this year, including Maragaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and Oryx and Crake. The latter of these novels is the first part of a trilogy, and I definitely want to read the other two books when I get a chance. I've also heard good things about The Giver by Lois Lowry, so I'm going to give that a try too."

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