The Handmaid's Tale: Dystopian Fiction, Then and Now

Analyse Margaret Atwood’s vision of society as represented through two major novels, The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) and the 2019 sequel, The Testaments. Compare Atwood’s representations of totalitarian society across a span of thirty years and discuss their relevance in the contemporary context. Complex concepts, like feminism, economic decline, bio-engineering and emotional conditioning in Atwood’s body of work, and her dystopian fiction, in particular, shall be analysed in this course.


  • Atwood, Margaret, The Handmaid’s Tale (1985)
  • Atwood, Margaret, The Heart Goes Last (2015)
  • Atwood, Margaret, The Testaments: The Sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale (2019)
  • The Handmaid’s Tale, available to stream at SBS On Demand


  • Introducing the concept of dystopia
  • Differentiating between dystopia/utopia and science fiction, as a genre
  • Introducing Margaret Atwood as a dystopian fiction writer
  • Discussing the reception of Atwood’s novels in the media
  • Analysing the typically dystopian topics in her novels
  • Feminism as a concept in Margaret Atwood’s fiction
  • Discussing the on-screen adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Comparing and contrasting the novels – The Handmaid’s Tale and The Heart Goes Last

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Outline the difference between utopia, dystopia and science fiction.
  2. Identify the cultural context of the creation of the novels: The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) and The Heart Goes Last (2015).
  3. Identify and criticize the contemporary cultural context – at the time of the creation of the TV series The Handmaid’s Tale (2016).
  4. Discuss the typically dystopian topics present in Margaret Atwood’s fiction.
  5. Assess the relevance of Margaret Atwood’s fiction to contemporary society – it’s social, cultural and political scene.
$153 Limited / $138

<p>Analyse Margaret Atwood’s vision of society as represented through two major novels, <em>The Handmaid’s Tale</em> (1985) and the 2019 sequel, <em>The Testaments</em>. Compare Atwood’s

07 Mar

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