Dystopian narratives dominate the current media landscape; in books and comics, on the big and small screen, on the Xbox and PC, Americans are (pleasantly?) tantalized by stories of totalitarian governments, zombie apocalypses, and Battle Royale-style death tournaments. In this course, we will interrogate the particular function of dystopian and utopian narratives in contemporary American culture by asking the following questions: What qualifies as a dystopian or utopian society? Why write stories about dystopian societies? What do we, as readers, gain from reading dystopian narratives? How do these stories reflect, question, and play with the context in which they were written? What is the longer history of the genre? Turning our attention to a variety of short stories, comics, novels, movies, television episodes and songs, we will use these questions to build a range of critical tools; subsequently, these tools will create a foundation for our writing practice. Texts will include Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta, episodes from The Twilight Zone, short stories from Ursula Le Guin, Kurt Vonnegut, and James Tiptree, Jr. and movies like Dawn of the Deadand The Hunger Games. By the end of the semester, you will have written four polished papers, created some propaganda for your favorite (fictional) totalitarian government, and learned how likely you are to survive a zombie attack.