For a genre that imagines possible futures as a means of critiquing the present, utopian/dystopian fiction has been surprisingly obsessed with how the past is remembered.
Memory and Utopian Agency in Utopian/Dystopian Literature: Memory of the Future examines modern and contemporary utopian/dystopian literature’s preoccupation with memory, asserting that from the nineteenth century onward, memory and forgetting feature as key problematics in the genre as well as sources of the utopian impulse. Through a series of close readings of utopian/dystopian novels informed by theory and dialectics, Hanson provides a case study history of how and why memory emerged as a problem for utopia, and how recent dystopian texts situate memory as a crucial mode of utopian agency. Hanson demonstrates that many modern and contemporary writers of the genre consider the presence of certain forms of memory as necessary to the project of imagining better societies or to avoiding possible dystopian outcomes.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Memory, Utopian Theory, Counter-Discourse
Chapter One: A Brief History of Memory’s Emergence in Utopian Narratives
Chapter Two: The Critical Utopia and Collective Memory
Chapter Three: Children’s/Young Adult Dystopian Fiction and Cultural Amnesia
Chapter Four: Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy and the Dialectic of Trauma
Carter F. Hanson is Professor of English at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of Emigration, Nation, Vocation: The Literature of English Emigration to Canada, 1825-1900 (Michigan State UP, 2009), as well as articles on utopian/dystopian literature and utopianism published in Extrapolation, Science Fiction Studies, Utopian Studies, Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, and Lit: Literature Interpretation Theory.
"Memory and Utopian Agency in Utopian/Dystopian Literature: Memory of the Future offers a highly original, wide-ranging, theoretically informed discussion of the role of memory in utopian and dystopian literature. The book breaks new ground on various fronts by putting forward innovative readings of familiar texts in the context of a fascinating dialogue between utopian studies and memory studies. A noteworthy contribution to our understanding of utopias and dystopias."
– Sean Seeger, University of Essex, UK