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Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik

A Quarterly of Language, Literature and Culture

[Journal of English and American Studies]

Ed. by Butter, Michael / Eckstein, Lars / Frenk, Joachim / Georgi-Findlay, Brigitte / Herbst, Thomas / Korte, Barbara / Leypoldt, Günter / Reinfandt, Christoph / Stefanowitsch, Anatol

CiteScore 2017: 0.07

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.123
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.323

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Volume 55, Issue 1


Transgressive Utopian Dystopias: The Postmodern Reappearance of Utopia in the Disguise of Dystopia

Dunja M. Mohr
Published Online: 2014-04-15 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/zaa-2007-0103


With utopia’s heyday of the second half of the 19th century long gone with only a momentary flare up as feminist utopia in the 1970s, utopian literature seems to remain in limbo. Indeed, many critics have agreed upon a diminished belief in a potentially better world if not upon the disappearance of utopian literature and the impossibility of utopian thought altogether. Yet utopia is very much alive: it has reappeared in the disguise of novels, initially set as dystopias, predominantly in the contemporary feminist dystopias of the past twenty to thirty years. These ‘transgressive utopian dystopias’ resist neat categorizations of utopia/dystopia; rather, they present utopian strategies as integral part of the dystopian narrative. While the described dystopian societies are riven by manifold dualisms, the suggested utopian impulses aim at their transgression. These utopian strategies can be single glimpses of hope, as Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake (2003) illustrates, or contain the very downfall or subversion of dystopia and the actual process of building utopia, as in Suzy McKee Charnas’s Holdfast tetralogy (1974-1999).

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Published Online: 2014-04-15

Published in Print: 2007-01-01

Citation Information: Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, Volume 55, Issue 1, Pages 5–24, ISSN (Online) 2196-4726, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/zaa-2007-0103.

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