ClassSense of Adventure: Dreaming a New World—Lessons and Teachings from Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower
This class is offered as part of the Loft's Sense of Adventure theme.
"When apparent stability disintegrates . . . people tend to give in to fear and depression, to need and greed. When no influence is strong enough to unify people, they divide. They struggle, one against one, group against group . . . . They create chaos and nurture it. They kill and kill and kill. Until they are exhausted and destroyed . . . or until one becomes a leader most will follow, or a tyrant most fear.”
The above quote comes from Octavia Butler’s revolutionary book Parable of the Sower. A sci-fi story that was published in 1992, Parable of the Sower has become prescient, as many of the issues, conditions, and struggles relayed in this novel mirror our own world today. Given the two raging pandemics in our country—racism and COVID—life as we knew it, along with our sense of stability, have both disintegrated. Perhaps even more significant is how these pandemics lifted the veil of willful ignorance and denial, exposing the cracks and fissures in our society, leading us to question how stable and secure “pre-COVID times” really were.
Part dystopian reality, part science fiction, and all abolitionist (by the end of the seminar, you’ll know what is meant by this), Parable of the Sower serves as both a warning and a vision: a warning about what our society and planet will become if we continue to abuse our planet and each other and a vision of what a new world could look like if we center community care, empathy, interconnectedness, and mutual aid. As we enter the world of Lauren Oya Olamina, a fifteen-year-old Black girl living in 2024 Los Angeles, we embark on a journey riddled with violence, chaos, and hatred, as well as kindness, love, resiliency, and hope. In journeying with her, we will draw connections to the state of our own society and planet, as we take in the teachings and learnings from Lauren’s travels.
In so doing, we will examine systems of oppression, power dynamics, and the various conditions required to create machinations of death and destruction. This type of inquiry and analysis is necessary if we want to create a new world that doesn’t a) use the master’s tools and b) reproduce the master’s house, as Audre Lorde wisely cautions against. We conclude the seminar by using the findings from our analyses to consider alternatives and emergent possibilities in order to usher in a new world.
Reading Seminar Essentials:
WHO this seminar is for: People interested in learning more about how systems of power and oppression operate in order to a) dismantle systems of death and destruction and b) envision a new way of being, relating, and doing
WHAT we’ll be doing: reading, writing, reflecting, discussing, dreaming
SKILLS you’ll be developing:
- the ability to critique rigorously (applying women of color feminism, critical race theory, and postcolonial analysis)
- the capacity to dream and vision without limitations or boundaries
- an abolitionist lens (e.g., how to think like an abolitionist)
Class will meet on Wednesdays from 6–7:30 p.m. on the following days: Jan 27, Feb 10, Feb 24, March 10, April 7, April 21
Instructions for Accessing This Online Class
In order to access live class meetings, you must have the Zoom application downloaded to your computer. You will also need a WiFi/Internet connection throughout the duration of your scheduled meeting and a computer with audio and video capability. The information to join your Zoom classroom will be provided in your confirmation email upon registration. Please check spam folders if you do not see this email upon registration. For more information on how to use Zoom, please see our training manual here.