I have taught a lot of classes in my life as a teacher– World Lit, Brit Lit, American Lit, Comp Lit, Comp, Creative Writing, Journalism, AP Language & Lit — but now that I’m an administrator, I’m only teaching one special class. In former years that class was an elective on dystopian fiction, but this year it’s AP English Literature & Composition, and we are up to our ears in John MIlton at the present time.
Book IV of Paradise Lost shows such a complex picture of a character we all love to hate — Satan — whose jealousy compels him to cause spiritual and physical harm to humanity. A big theme for our course is the concept of intertextuality, how texts speak to each other across time and place. Milton’s characterization of Satan clearly inspired so many villains, foils, and flawed characters that followed and who we will meet later in the school year.
If you are looking for an exceptional dystopian story, go straight to Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, a book that makes me both sad and energized to ensure that our future looks nothing like the one handed to the graduates of Hailsham. I also recommend the more recent Station Eleven and the film, ex machina, to people who really like dark tales of potential future worlds.
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