The following Freshman Seminars will all include some consideration of this year's work, The Handmaid's Tale, or the themes it evokes. As you can see, the instructors approach the theme from very different disciplinary standpoints.

Fall 2018

English 24, section 5: The Handmaid's Tale on Page, Stage and Screen

Katherine Snyder | Schedule →

In concert with the selection of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale for the campus’s 2018 On the Same Page program, this seminar will offer a closer look at this award-winning 1985 novel and the award-winning Hulu television series that first aired in 2017, with a second season released in spring 2018. What made this such a powerful novel in its own moment? And why do its reverberations continue to be felt so powerfully today? We will read some of the journalistic think pieces about the TV series and, if we have time, we may explore one or more of the previous adaptations of Atwood’s novel for radio, opera, ballet, film, and a concept album by indie band Lakes of Canada. Seminar members will participate through lively in-class discussion, weekly bCourses posts, conversation starters, and a final creative response project.

Journalism 24: Looking Backward: Storytellers Using the Future to Change the Present

Thomas Leonard | Schedule →

Beginning with Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale as both a novel and a TV series, this seminar will look at how social critics and audiences see an alternative to the status quo in stories of the future. Storytelling of this type has a long history and much can be learned by gaining this perspective: 

In 1887, Edward Bellamy wrote Looking Backward: 2000-1887. Bellamy inspired clubs to form across the nation to advance a form of socialism that the novel placed in the 21st century. Bellamy, a journalist, was particularly successful in California. 

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury was science fiction for readers in the 1950s that foresaw an America where state censorship would come close to wiping out cultural memory. Bradbury wrote the warning on a UC campus. Fahrenheit 451 (HBO film, May 2018) brings us up to date. The character played by Michael B. Jordan says: “news, facts, memoirs, the Internet of old . . . burn it!”