Utopia and Dystopia

Utopia

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Photography Book
Sternfeld, Joel. Sweet Earth: Experimental Utopias in America. London: Steidl, 2006.
Photographer Joel Sternfeld's Sweet Earth: Experimental Utopias in America explores the past and present of these idealized communities across the United States. Sternfeld's photographs highlight the land on which these foundations for bliss were built while the accompanying text lends insight into the people whose vision led to their creation. Many of Sternfeld's photographs focus on landscape but there are also compelling portraits of people. -- Andy Nelson, The Christian Science Monitor
http://www.steidlville.com/books/123-Sweet-Earth-Experimental-Utopias-in-America.html
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Young Adult Novel
Lowry, Lois. The Giver. Laurel Leaf, 2002.
In a world with no poverty, no crime, no sickness and no unemployment, and where every family is happy, 12-year-old Jonas is chosen to be the community's Receiver of Memories. Under the tutelage of the Elders and an old man known as the Giver, he discovers the disturbing truth about his utopian world and struggles against the weight of its hypocrisy. With echoes of Brave New World, in this 1994 Newbery Medal winner, Lowry examines the idea that people might freely choose to give up their humanity in order to create a more stable society. Gradually Jonas learns just how costly this ordered and pain-free society can be, and boldly decides he cannot pay the price. (from Amazon.com) (192 pages)
















Dystopia

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Young Adult Novel
Anderson, M.T. Feed. Somerville: Candlewick, 2004.

In this chilling novel, Anderson imagines a society dominated by the feed-a next-generation Internet/television hybrid that is directly hardwired into the brain. In a starred review, PW called this a "thought-provoking and scathing indictment of corporate-and media-dominated culture."
http://mt-anderson.com/blog/his-books/books-for-teens-and-adults/feed-2/
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Novel
McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. New York: Knopf, 2006.
Cormac McCarthy sets his new novel, The Road, in a post-apocalyptic blight of gray skies that drizzle ash, a world in which all matter of wildlife is extinct, starvation is not only prevalent but nearly all-encompassing, and marauding bands of cannibals roam the environment with pieces of human flesh stuck between their teeth. If this sounds oppressive and dispiriting, it is. McCarthy may have just set to paper the definitive vision of the world after nuclear war, and in this recent age of relentless saber-rattling by the global powers, it's not much of a leap to feel his vision could be not far off the mark nor, sadly, right around the corner. Stealing across this horrific (and that's the only word for it) landscape are an unnamed man and his emaciated son, a boy probably around the age of ten. It is the love the father feels for his son, a love as deep and acute as his grief, that could surprise readers of McCarthy's previous work. McCarthy's Gnostic impressions of mankind have left very little place for love. In fact that greatest love affair in any of his novels, I would argue, occurs between the Billy Parham and the wolf in The Crossing. But here the love of a desperate father for his sickly son transcends all else. McCarthy has always written about the battle between light and darkness; the darkness usually comprises 99.9% of the world, while any illumination is the weak shaft thrown by a penlight running low on batteries. In The Road, those batteries are almost out--the entire world is, quite literally, dying--so the final affirmation of hope in the novel's closing pages is all the more shocking and maybe all the more enduring as the boy takes all of his father's (and McCarthy's) rage at the hopeless folly of man and lays it down, lifting up, in its place, the oddest of all things: faith. --Dennis Lehane

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Novel

In this now-classic novel, books are illegal, firemen start fires, and many families have floor-to-ceiling televisions throughout their homes.
http://www.neabigread.org/books/fahrenheit451/

This website offers a reader's guide and a teacher's guide from the NEA.

Short Story
Bradbury, Ray. "Harrison Bergeron" in Welcome to the Monkey House. New York: Delacorte Press, 1968.