Ms.  Gokturk

Ms.  G’s Calendar: or



End of the World and Dystopian Literature


“Thank you. That was really eye opening,” a student once said at the end of this course. Yes!  That is the purpose of this entire course! To open our eyes! To reflect on our world, our role in the world, to open our eyes to the things we accept as normal and to the truth and possible future.


what this course is

This course examines an introductory sampling of “end of the world” and dystopian speculative literature.  Narrated from a post-apocalyptic setting, end of the world “disaster” literature forces us to examine how humans find meaning and purpose not only in their individual lives but also as a society, however small that society is.  Dystopian literature, on the other hand, portrays worlds that have failed miserably in achieving the goal of a social and political order free of cruelty, corruption and misery.  Both genres address the individual’s role in these big situations.  These imaginary worlds have connections with the real world and present important issues for us to consider.  We will search for reoccurring themes in these disaster and dystopian narratives and study the issues the authors highlight. As the course progresses, students will identify the important issues in our world and form their own vision of the “end” or “dystopia” to serve as a warning for future readers. 


and what it’s not

This course is not intended to depress, nor is it intended to provide a fatalistic excuse to give up.  Since the literature portrays frightening and horrifying imaginary worlds, readers are forced to acknowledge society’s ills – in order to inspire awareness and change!   Many of the narratives we will examine reveal mankind’s hope – his need – to survive, to “do the right thing,” to persevere, to rebuild, and to be remembered.  We must find, create, and preserve what is beautiful.  Everything matters!





core questions

ü  Do you think the world will ever end? Why or why not? How do you define “the end” in this context?[1][1]

ü  What is beautiful? 

ü  What are the important issues of our time?  What is threatened?

ü  What does it mean to be human?  What gives our lives meaning? 

ü  How is civilization created, maintained, and/or destroyed?  What role does the individual play in preserving or destroying the world?

ü  What is our relationship with nature and animals?

ü  How far is too far? Where do we ascribe accountability?



some course motifs                                                           

  • Paradise  / Paradise Lost 
  • Utopia? Dystopia!
  • Evolution /  Devolution 
  • Time Travel
  • Entropy
  • Ouroboros [see the snake above]
  • Earth Abides / Nature / Animals
  • The Mad Scientist
  • Cozy Catastrophe
  • The Last Man or The Last of motif
  • Perils of Technology
  • The End by Pandemic









Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake

George Stewart’s Earth Abides

HG Wells’ The Time Machine


Short Works:

Alfred Bester’s “Adam and No Eve”

Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights” (painting)

Ray Bradbury’s “The Last Night of the World” and “And There Will Come Soft Rains”

TP Caravan’s “Random Sample”

Harlan Ellison’s “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream”

Philip Jose Farmer’s “King of Beasts”

Lev Grossman’s “2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal”

Gaye Lee’s “A Civilising Influence”

Fritz Leiber’s “A Pail of Air” 

Richard Matheson’s “Born of Man and Woman”

David Olsson’s “Id” (2010 EOW DYS)

Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death”

James Thurber’s “The Last Flower”

Andy Weir’s “The Egg”

Pamela Zoline’s “The Heat Death of the Universe” 



2001: A Space Odyssey (clips)

Black Mirror’s “White Christmas” movie



Never Let Me Go

Twelve Monkeys

Man (Steve Cuts)

The World’s Most Typical Person (Nat Geo)

7 Billion People (NPR)

It’s Time to Question Bio-Engineering (Ted Wolpe TedTalk)


Honors Option: (please ask me for my packet)

You will read TWO novels that I assign and complete weekly composition literary analysis responses to your weekly readings.  Annotated books will be collected.  The project culminates into a 1500 word comparative essay, connecting the two works to the course. Each assignment is graded; anything receiving less than a B must be revised immediately. This is a challenging project.





Quizzes  (daily reading; 5 questions @ 5 points = 25 points; lowest dropped)

Homework & Class work  (from 10-25 points)

Participation  (@ 5 week mark @ 50 x 2)

Fiction Writing (50 -100)

Journal (5-10 points per entry; 1 page min; notes)



What will the workload look like?

Reading Quizzes:  After every night’s assigned reading, you will take a five question / passage identification quiz to demonstrate that you read actively. TAKE NOTES! 


Homework: Primarily active reading.  Sometimes writing.


Class work: Zones, Character & Journey Maps, Movie Posters, Written Responses, Graphic Organizers, Poems, etc.


Participation: You are expected not only to participate in discussion, but also to be attentive and prepared.  Cell phones are a big no-no and use of a cell phone hurts your class participation grade.


Essays / Projects:

You will write two critical essays analyzing the works we covered.  There is a mid-term essay and an Oryx and Crake essay. Short story excerpts, final project short story, building a time machine, etc.

Recommended Readings / Films:

1984 by George Orwell

28 Days Later (film)


AI (film)

Alas, Babylon  by Pat Frank

 “All Watched Over by Machines of Love and Grace” (poem) by Richard Brautigan

Anthem by Ayn Rand

Armageddon (film)

“Arena” by Frederic Brown

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

Battle Royale (film)

Blade Runner (film)

Black Mirror series

Charlie Fish’s “Bleeding Jungle”

Book of Eli (film)

A Boy and His Dog (film)

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke

Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

The Children of Men by P.D. James

Children of Men (film)

The Circle (film)

Gaye Jee’s “A Civilising Influence”

The Day After (film)

The Day After Tomorrow (film)

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Edge of Tomorrow(film)

The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Feed by M.T. Anderson

Final Impact (film)

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

Grass by Sheri Tepper

Halfway Human by Caroline Gilman

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (Hulu series is mindblowing)

Her (film)

Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Hyperion by Dan Simmons (+ other books in the series)

I, Robot (film and novel by Isaac Asimov)

I am Legend by Richard Matheson

Independence Day (film)

Into the Woods (film)

The Island (film)

An Inconvenient Truth (film)

The Last Man on Earth (film)

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Logan’s Run (film)

Looper (film)

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

Lucifer’s Hammer by Walter Williams

Maddaddam by Margaret Atwood

Melancholia (film)

The Matrix (film)

Metropolis (film)

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

The Minority Report by Philip K. Dick

Minority Report (film)

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Book Store by Robin Sloan

Moon (film)

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Neuromancer by William Gibson

Isaac Asimov’s “Nightfall” 

The Omega Man (film)

On the Beach by Neville Shute

One Second After by William Forstchen

Outbreak (film)

The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

Paycheck (film)

The Planet of the Apes by Pierrre Boulle

Player One Ready by Ernest Cline

The Postman by David Brin

Predestination (film)

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban

The Road Warrior (film)

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

R.U.R. by Karel Capek

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (film)

The Seventh Seal (Demi Moore film)

The Seventh Seal (Ingmar Bergen film)

Shaun of the Dead (film)

The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

Song of Kali by Dan Simmons

Soylent Green (film)

Spiral by Paul McEuen

The Stand by Stephen King

The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

The Stepford Wives (old and new films)

Time Lapse (film)

Time’s Arrow by Martin Amis

“True Love” by Isaac Asimov

“Twilight” by John Campbell

The Twilight Zone series

Uncanny (film)

V for Vendetta (film)

V for Vendetta by Alan Moore

“The Veldt” by Ray Bardbury

Vic and Blood by Harlan Ellison

WALL-E (film)

The Walking Dead (TV series)

War of the Worlds by HG Wells

Waterworld (film)

“The Weapon” by Frederic Brown

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

“The Weapon Shops” by A.E. Van Vogt

Westworld series

What Happened to Monday? (film)

White Noise by Don Delillo

Wool by Hugh Howey

World War Z by Max Brooks

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

Year Zero by Jeff Long

Z for Zachariah by Robert O’Brien (YA)

ZPG: Zero Population Growth (film)           


[1][1] According to a GALLUP 1995 survey 61% of adults and 71% of teens agreed that the “the world will come to an end or be destroyed.” More than 1/3 of teens surveyed in another survey believed nuclear war was would be the end.