Undergraduate Honors Thesis Projects

Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type

Honors Paper

Degree Name

English Literary Studies-BA




Karen Steigman

First Committee Member

Karen Steigman

Second Committee Member

Paul Eisenstein

Third Committee Member

Louise Captein


American Literature Post-45, Speculative Fiction, Utopian Studies

Subject Categories

Literature in English, North America


I argue that there is a vitally important dimension of Utopian politics which infects the first three novels of the Dune series, Dune (1965), Dune Messiah (1969), Children of Dune (1976) which goes unacknowledged in the scholarship surrounding the Dune series. I argue that Herbert uses the Dune series to articulate what literary theorist, Fredric Jameson, describes as an anti-Utopia, a baleful vision of Utopia. He argues that the Utopian projects which seek to imagine new ends for humanity require giving up the self to some vaster collective. In the text, I explore how this baleful vision of Utopia appears: (1) in Herbert’s representations of the body and mind racing past their biological limits (2) in the formal qualities of narrative causality in the Dune series (3) in Herbert’s depiction of collectivity swallowing the individual. In the end, Herbert’s hatred of Utopian forms of progress ensures he invests his politics in inaction, conservation, and stagnation in line with various figures of movement conservativism after the second world war.

Licensing Permission

Copyright, all rights reserved. Fair Use

Acknowledgement 1


Acknowledgement 2


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