Literature: Hope and Faith in the Age of Dystopia Online

Recent trends in young adult literature (and even movies and TV shows) illustrate a pervading interest in dystopian fiction, texts that explore futuristic or exaggerated visions of what could become a reality if certain societal trends were to continue.  While this fiction offers captivating and often realistic but terrifying depictions of the modern world, it also invites opportunities to compare our own experiences to those characterized by (and predicted in?) these novels.

In this literature course, we will do just that!  While several classic dystopias may be studied in high school classrooms – like 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, and The Handmaid’s Tale – this class will examine contemporary and popular dystopias with adolescent protagonists to consider the implications of these more relevant dystopian imaginings.  Novels like Scythe, Feed, Little Brother, The Uglies, a movie like Ready Player One or The Hunger Games, and a TV show like Netflix’s Black Mirror will allow us to see how aspects of dystopia pervade our everyday lives.

Students will engage with this course theme through literature circle groups, class discussions, and engagement with a variety of secondary source materials like documentaries, video clips, news reports, and short stories. Ultimately, students will argue how relevant these dystopias are to our current social climate and consider how hope and faith may factor into their prevention.


Academic Director

Michael Macaluso

Michael Macaluso

Michael Macaluso serves a faculty member of the Alliance for Catholic Education and a fellow of the Institute for Educational Initiatives. In this role, he teaches education related courses through the Teaching Fellows M.Ed. program and through the Education, Schooling, and Society program. As faculty of supervision and instruction, he visits ACE Teaching Fellows at various communities around the country, including Tampa, Washington, D.C., and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Macaluso earned his undergraduate degree in English and political science from the University of Notre Dame and his M.Ed. from the ACE Teaching Fellows program in 2006, serving in Baton Rouge. After teaching in the suburbs of Chicago, he earned his Ph.D. in curriculum, instruction, and teacher education from Michigan State University. He specializes in English education and young adult literature.