School of Humanities



Aisling Blackmore


Start date

Feb 2011

Submission date

Jul 2014

Aisling Blackmore

Aisling Blackmore profile photo


Ambiguous Understandings: Critical Interpretations of Utopia in Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed 1969 – 2011.


This thesis seeks to understand attitudes towards utopia in science fiction, by studying the patterns of response to Ursula Le Guin’s two utopian novels The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed from 1969 to 2011. It will engage in a meta-analysis of critical, as well as popular, responses to and analyses of these novels. The ways in which these responses vary will give an insight into patterns of reception and response. This thesis seeks to use these variations to better understand the concept of utopia at the end of the twentieth century.

Why my research is important

While there is much written on the utopian aspects of Le Guin’s work, and Le Guin herself, there is a lack of scholarship consolidating this huge area of scholarship, reflecting on how reception of her ideas has developed. Utopian studies is a significant scholarly field, but primarily focuses on utopian texts, rather than critiques of such literature. This thesis, as a meta-critique will contribute original insights to the field of cultural history.


  • 2012: University Postgraduate Award and Safety Net Top-Up