The Dispossessed

The Disposessed, by Ursula K. Le GuinStarting in September 2016, Mythgard Academy will present a free, live seminar on The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. Le Guin. Critically recognized as a tour de force across a spectrum of fiction and non-fiction genres, Le Guin was recently recognized by The Library of America with the publication of a volume of early works set in her fictional European country of Orsinia – one of only a handful of living authors to receive such an honor. Several of Le Guin’s works have been studied as part of Signum University courses as well, including The Left Hand of Darkness (Science Fiction, Part II) and A Wizard of Earthsea (Modern Fantasy I).

As one of the most subtle and complex science fiction investigations of political systems ever written, The Dispossessed describes the twin worlds of Anarres, an anarchist world, and Urras, a world much like our own with countries of varied political systems, including two very large countries with systems that are at odds with each other. Told from the perspective of the Anarresti scholar Shevek, the book provides a thoughtful and shrewd look into the various political systems that Shevek encounters, including the one into which he was born, and finds both merits and faults in each. The Dispossessed is part of Le Guin’s larger Hainish cycle, which explores a variety of worlds and social systems.

The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. Le Guin

Given the current contentious political climate in the U.S. (not to mention other areas of the world), in addition to providing insight about specific political ideologies, study of The Dispossessed can also provide us with a useful method for investigating and critiquing other viewpoints in a constructive, and respectful, manner.

As one of our series of Mythgard Academy seminars, these discussions are open for all participants at no charge. Each week, the first 100 people to sign up can join in the live discussion. If you cannot attend live, don’t worry – video recordings of each discussion will be available on this web page, through iTunes U, and on the Signum University YouTube channel.

This seminar is made possible by the generosity of everyone who has supported the Mythgard Institute and Signum University through their generous donations. The books studied during our Academy discussions are nominated and elected by donors. Earlier this year, in addition to continuing our saunter through The History of Middle-earth with The Shaping of Middle-earth and The Lost Road, we explored the gothic horrors of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and after now we are taking to the stars to explore the galactic landscapes of Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed.

If you would still like to take part in our voting process to decide our future topics for the rest of the year, it isn’t too late! Visit our donation page and help support our free seminars!
– Dr. Corey Olsen

Participation Welcome!

To help participants support each other, Mythgard provides the following interaction opportunities:

  • A live chatroom is available at the bottom right of this page where you can converse with other session attendees in real time.
    • There is a little icon on the bottom left pane of the chat widget to open the chat in a separate window, which you should find useful.
  • Also, we have a Mythgard Academy forum where donors can discuss topics related to this seminar. The forum is located in the Signum University Digital Campus within the Community Hearth. Our other Mythgard Academy activities, such as the Silmarillion Film Project can be found on our public forum. (Registration required.)

Also, please “like” the Mythgard Academy Facebook page and follow us on Twitter to get updates and reminders about each session. If you live-tweet the discussions, please use the hashtag #MythAcademy.


The Dispossessed will meet on Wednesdays at 9:30 pm Eastern Time

Week 1: From the Moon

Read: Chapters 1-2 (1-62)

Week 2: I Am Still Here

Read: Chapters 3-4 (63-125)

Week 3: Quarantine

Read: Chapters 5-6 (126-192)

Week 4: Nuchnibi

Read: Q&A and Catch-up

Week 5: Human Nature

Read: Chapters 7-8 (193-269)

Week 6: The Politics of Reality

Read: Chapters 9-10 (270-334)

Week 7: Revolution

Read: Chapters 11-13 (335-386)

Week 8: Unbuilding the Wall

Read: Q&A and Catch-up

 Week 9: True Voyage Is Return

Choose Future Seminar Topics

Do you want to support the work that the Mythgard Institute does for fantasy and other imaginative literature? Would you like to help choose the books we discuss in future seminars? Donate today!