Hope for the Future

(Future Turku / source: https://www.turku.fi/blogit/kohti-vuotta-2029/tulevaisuuspaivaa-turusta)

This spring I’m teaching a course on Hope in Future Narratives at the University of Turku. At the background of this course is a sense, undoubtedly familiar to many, that we live in a particularly future-oriented era, in which knowing the future has become something a of a moral imperative, a time in which we are individually and collectively urged to make decisions and take action based largely on future projections.

At the same time, many of the future visions were are confronted with – in media, policy texts, literature, and everyday modes of storytelling – are distinctly pessimistic, to the extent that their gloominess may impact on our sense of possible agency. Hence, a.o. recent calls for more “hopeful” visions of the future, or for the examinations of seed of hopefulness in the way current media and other narratives project possible worlds.

The aim of my course is to examine questions of hope and agency in literary (and other) narratives that are set in future or alternative storyworlds. How are such storyworlds structured? What rhetoric and narrative structures are put into play to convey hope, agency, or trajectories towards desirable or possible alternative futures?

As our opening discussions during the first lecture made clear, the subject of the course resonated with a number of students, with environmental anxiety one obvious point of reference, but also a more broadly felt sense of the need to be able to discuss and project possible alternative worlds.

Below, the readings for the course – all thoughts more than welcome!

Hope in Future Literature – From Golden Age Utopias to Contemporary Climate Fiction

[Toivoa tulevaisuudesta. Kaunokirjalliset tulevaisuusvisiot utopian kultakaudesta ilmastofiktioon]

University of Turku, Finland / Comparative Literature / Spring 2020 / lieven.ameel [a] utu.fi

Primary material

  • Leena Krohn 1985: Tainaron. 1st letter
  • Edward Bellamy 1888: Looking Backward: 2000–1887.
  • H. Auden. 1939. “In memory of W.B. Yeats.”
  • Edwin Morgan. 1965. “In Sobieski’s Shield.”
  • Oyvind Rimbereid. 2004. “Solaris korrigert” / “Solaris corrected”.
  • Colson Whitehead 1999: The Intuitionist.
  • Emily St. John Mandel 2014: Station Eleven.
  • EVAN global scenarios / Juha Itkonen 2009: Pelin henki.
  • Turku City Master Plan 2029.

Secondary material

  • Lubomir Dolezel 1998. Heterocosmica . Fiction and Possible Worlds. Johns Hopkins UP, 113-132.
  • Caroline Edwards 2019. Utopia and the Contemporary British Novel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 16-25; pp.  35-49
  • Ernst Bloch: ”Introduction.” The Principle of Hope.
  • Richard Gunn 1987: ”Ernst Bloch’s The Principle of Hope.” The Edinburgh Review pp. 1-5.
  • Pirjo Lyytikäinen: “Modernin allegorian A ja O.” Joutsen / Svanen 2014. pp. 13-21.
  • Gifford, Terry. 2014. “Pastoral, Anti-Pastoral, and Post-Pastoral.”
  • Barbara Adam and Chris Groves 2009. Future matters: action, knowledge, ethics. Brill. pp. 13-15, 25-38.

Further reading

  • Ameel, Lieven. 2016. “Cities Utopian, Dystopian and Apocalyptic.” In Tambling, Jeremy (ed.): Palgrave Handbook of Literature and the City. London: Palgrave, 2016, 785-80.
  • Lilley, Deborah. ”Pastoral.” In Robert Eaglestone and Daniel O’Gorman (eds.): Routledge Companion to Twenty-First Century Literary Fiction. London: Routledge, 2019.
  • Wendell Bell 2003. Foundations of Futures Studies. London: Routledge.

Thanks to all the feedback I received from colleagues when I asked for future stories of hope – thanks, in particular, to Brian McAllister for suggesting Morgan’s “In Sobieski’s Shield”, to Anne-Marie Evans for reminding me of Station Eleven, and to Caroline Edwards for getting me inspired about the possibility of a utopian method of reading!

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