Presenter Information

James Roney, Juniata CollegeFollow

Keywords

Stephen Toulmin, Evgeny Zamyatin, Aldous Huxley, utopia, Russian intelligentsia

Subject Area

Foreign Languages

Start Date

2-3-2014 10:45 AM

End Date

2-3-2014 12:15 PM

Description/Abstract

Dystopia remains an essential genre in modern and postmodern science fiction because it examines the tensions inherent in using science and technology either to stabilize progress or to create a perfect world. Stephen Toulmin’s account of the modern yearning for a stable, rational order beneath the surface variety of life and Isaiah Berlin’s analysis of the conceptual contradictions of utopian thought show the larger intellectual context of two famous dystopias: Evgeny Zamyatin’s We and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. We uses a fragmented, first-person narration to show the dissolution of the mind of its mathematician narrator as his revolutionary society fractures due to a revolt of passionate chaos. Brave New World uses a representational, third-person narration to present the alienation of the natural in a consumer society seeking the stable satisfaction of individual preferences by applying scientific principles. Together these two works show the irreconcilable tension between the desire for freedom and the desire for order that are the normal justification for Enlightenment utopias, whether those utopias emphasize revolutionary perfection or consumer satisfaction.

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Mar 2nd, 10:45 AM Mar 2nd, 12:15 PM

The Role of Dystopia: Isaiah Berlin and the Novels of Huxley and Zamyatin

Dystopia remains an essential genre in modern and postmodern science fiction because it examines the tensions inherent in using science and technology either to stabilize progress or to create a perfect world. Stephen Toulmin’s account of the modern yearning for a stable, rational order beneath the surface variety of life and Isaiah Berlin’s analysis of the conceptual contradictions of utopian thought show the larger intellectual context of two famous dystopias: Evgeny Zamyatin’s We and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. We uses a fragmented, first-person narration to show the dissolution of the mind of its mathematician narrator as his revolutionary society fractures due to a revolt of passionate chaos. Brave New World uses a representational, third-person narration to present the alienation of the natural in a consumer society seeking the stable satisfaction of individual preferences by applying scientific principles. Together these two works show the irreconcilable tension between the desire for freedom and the desire for order that are the normal justification for Enlightenment utopias, whether those utopias emphasize revolutionary perfection or consumer satisfaction.