Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Karen Schneider (Director), Dr. David LeNoir, Dr. Kelly Reames

Degree Program

Department of English

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Dystopic fiction is defined by its depiction of oppressive societies with power structures that seek to exercise control on its citizens. Orwell’s classic 1984 depicts a society that is a reaction to World War II and totalitarian regimes. This society depicts elements of cultural hegemony that are altered during the move to postmodernism. Atwood’s Oryx and Crake evolved to reflect the political climate that grew out of the Cold War’s end, while retaining the cautionary messages regarding the state’s ability to control. Oryx and Crake can be seen as completely reversing the concern from centralized power to decentralized power (represented by multinational corporations beholden to no single government.)

This phenomenon is indicative of the postmodern period and the onset of late capitalism as defined by cultural critic Fredrick Jameson. Using the theory of Jameson and other postmodern theorists, an exploration of the dystopic novels or Orwell and Atwood reveals how cultural hegemony has been implemented and altered from the modern to the postmodern.


English Language and Literature