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Imagining SurveillanceEutopian and Dystopian Literature and Film$
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Peter Marks

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781474400190

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474400190.001.0001

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Surveillance Before Big Brother

Surveillance Before Big Brother

(p.36) 2 Surveillance Before Big Brother
Imagining Surveillance

Peter Marks

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter traces the history of utopian depictions of surveillance before Nineteen Eighty-Four. It argues that we understand Orwell’s novel better when we see it in terms of a long tradition of such works that have from at leas the time of Thomas More in the 16th century have represented and critically analysed social structures and processes, as well as their relationships to individuals and groups. Inherently, utopias are speculative, testing out good and bad possibilities for readers (and, later, for film goers), enabling them to contemplate the worlds they inhabit and to think about optional ways of being, both individually and socially. Concentrating on this genre, the chapter suggests, uncovers a focused, historically- and imaginatively rich body of works that present a valuable array of depictions and analyses.

Keywords:   Thomas More, Utopia, Looking Backward: 2000-1887, A Modern Utopia, Herland, Metropolis, Modern Times, Walden Two, Zamyatin, We, Brave New World

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