New Summer Reading Group on utopian and dystopian world for University of Salford undergraduate students

We would like to invite you to participate in our new Virtual Summer Reading Group, with a focus on ‘utopian and dystopian worlds’ 😊

Our first reading is a short story by E.M Forster called The Machine Stops, first published in the Oxford and Cambridge Review, November 1909. Forster tells the tale of a mother (Vashti) and her son (Kuno) who live in small ‘isolated’ cells on a strange, possibly post-apocalyptic future Earth-world. Their needs – food, shelter, entertainment, even the artificial air they breathe – are provided by The Machine. The Machine is never fully explained, only hinted at. Kuno proves to have a rebellious spirit, venturing out to discover whether life (still) exists outside of The Machine. Will he survive, and what will he find out?

Interested? Try this!

i) Read: Read E.M. Forster’s short story The Machine Stops and note down a few of your thoughts. You can find the reading here: or here (direct link to the PDF)

ii) Think: You can use our “Things to think about” suggestions (below) as guidance when you read if you find them helpful. Otherwise ignore. 

iii) Chat: Come along to our virtual meet up at 2 o’clock Thursday 16th July 2020 to hear us discuss the reading. You can add your own thoughts (via chat text or verbally) to the discussion. You can also participate in the SRG forum online:

Things to think about

We chose this story as it has some uncanny links to our present situation, the Covid crisis 2020. Have a think about some of these questions:

  • What aspects of contemporary life do you think are like the world depicted in the story?(e.g. the lockdown? the internet? university life?)
  • What do you think of technology as being sole mediator of social life/interaction? How does this resonate with today’s world? Do you miss “IRL”?!
  • “I want to see you not through the Machine” said Kuno. What is Kuno’s problem with virtual chats?!
  • “There were buttons and switches everywhere – buttons to call for food, for music, for clothing….” Human (over)reliance on technology? How does this resonate with today’s world?
  • What do YOU think would happen if ‘The Internet’ stopped working? (like The Machine in Forster’s story!)

Sign me up

When: Every other Thursday at 2 o’clock starting on Thursday 16th July 2020 

Where (click on this link, then join us in the Webinar room)

By who: Us! Karenza and Tom will be running this group 

For who: You! Any student is welcome 

If you have any questions, please email Dr Karenza Moore