English, Department of


Date of this Version



Thielen, Brita M. "A New Kind of Social Dreaming: Diversifying Contemporary Dystopian Fiction." MA thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2016. Web.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: English, Under the Supervision of Professor Amelia María de la Luz Montes. Lincoln, NE: May, 2016

Copyright (c) 2016 Brita M. Thielen


This thesis argues that the dystopian genre lacks diversity not because dystopian novels with a focus on issues of gender, race/ethnicity, and sexuality have not been written, but because these novels are assigned to other genres. Reevaluating the importance of a future setting to dystopian fiction opens the genre to stories whose characters need not exist in a future temporal landscape because their oppression exists in the present. The entrenched norm of a future temporal setting in dystopian fiction privileges the perspectives of a group of people who largely do not experience systemic oppression in the present: white heterosexual men. The idea that a dystopian protagonist is relatable to any potential reader, and that this figure is best depicted as a white heterosexual man, is terribly misguided—even dangerous. If the primary aim of dystopian fiction is social criticism that warns of oppression, we cannot be satisfied with a genre that almost exclusively concerns itself with the fears of white heterosexual men. By doing so, we limit our imagination to how this particular group could face persecution and ignore the ways other groups of people can, and historically have, been persecuted because they don’t fit the privileged white heterosexual male position.

Advisor: Amelia María de la Luz Montes