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Archaeologies of the Future: Jameson's Utopia or Orwell's Dystopia?

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This paper begins with the proposition that Fredric Jameson's Archaeologies of the Future (2005) is the most important theoretical contribution to utopian and science-fiction studies since Darko Suvin's Metamorphoses of Science Fiction (1979). It argues that Jameson's derivation of 'anti-anti-Utopianism' from Sartrean anti-anti-communism will provide 'the party of Utopia' with as good a slogan as it is likely to find in the foreseeable future. It takes issue with Jameson over two key issues: his overwhelming concentration on American science-fiction, which seems strangely parochial in such a distinguished comparativist; and his understanding of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four as an 'anti-Utopia' rather than a dystopia. The paper argues that, for Nineteen Eighty-Four, as for any other science-fiction novel, the key question is that identified by Jameson: not 'did it get the future right?', but rather 'did it sufficiently shock its own present as to force a meditation on the impossible?'. It concludes that Jameson fails to understand how this process works for dystopia as well as utopia, for barbarism as well as socialism.

Affiliations: 1: Monash University;, Email:


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