Before Huxley’s soul-crushing dystopia envelops your students, prepare them with this Brave New World Introduction PowerPoint. The slideshow gives students insight regarding genre, historical context, Huxley’s background, theme subjects, and the basic premise of the novel.
Keep scrolling for a note-taking page that accompanies the presentation.
Brave New World Preview SlideshowBrave New World Introduction compressed
The first part of the Brave New World preview presentation explores the concept of dystopia, introduces Huxley’s imagined society, gives some background on the author, and offers anoverview of the historical context. The second part of the presentation previews the unit.
Brave New World Preview HandoutIntroduction Notes - Brave New World
I use this note-taking page to help students summarize the key information. If you intend to give students a packet to complete as they read the novel, this could be the first page.
Viewing and discussing the introduction PowerPoint is the first of my pre-reading activities for the novel. For more ideas, check out Brave New World Pre-Reading Activities.
Brave New World Preview PowerPoint Slides:
1) Title Page
2) Huxley Quote (1)
“…most men and women will grow up to love their servitude and will never dream of revolution.”
3) Fact Sheet
- Author: Aldous Huxley
- Date of publication: 1932
- Country of origin: England
- Genre: speculative fiction, dystopian novel
- Point of view: third-person omniscient
- Setting: England in the year 2540
4) Speculative Fiction
The term speculative fiction has two competing definitions:
A) A super-genre that includes science fiction, fantasy, supernatural fiction, alternate histories, dystopian fiction, and even superhero fiction.
B) A genre akin to science fiction but focusing on the human condition and societal development rather than science and technology (i.e., imagined utopias and dystopias).
5) The Concept of Utopia
- The perfect human society
- “Utopia,” from the Greek for “no place.”
- Sir Thomas More’s work Utopia (1516)
○ More coined the term.
○ He used a fictional society to explore the problems in his own society.
- Many thinkers explored the concept before More coined the term.
- The most famous Utopian writer of Huxley’s time was H.G. Wells, who wrote A Modern Utopia in 1905.
6) Imagined Utopias (1)
7) Imagined Utopias (2)
- The Republic (~380 BCE) by Plato – the perfect Greek city-state
- Tao Hua Yuan (421 CE) by Tao Yuanming – intellectuals living in harmony with nature
- Al-Madina al-Fadila (~950 CE) by Al-Farabi – life in Medina as perfected under the rule of the prophet Mohamed
- New Atlantis (1627) by Francis Bacon – a futuristic society based on “generosity and enlightenment, dignity and splendor, piety and public spirit”
- Gloriana , or the Revolution of 1900 (1890) by Lady Florence Dixie – British society perfected through feminism
- Walden Two (1948) by B. F. Skinner – a small, self-sufficient utopia based on social science
8) Real Attempts at Utopia
- Palmanova, 1593 – the perfect fortress city (Venetian Republic)
- New Lanark, 1786 – a socialist manufacturing center (Scotland)
- Home, 1895 – nudism and anarchy (Washington State)
- Penudo, 1933 – communal agriculture (Brazil)
9) Utopia and Dystopia
Aldous Huxley worried that optimistic visions of perfect societies were wrong-headed and even dangerous.
Dystopia: an imagined state or society in which there is great suffering or injustice, typically one that is totalitarian or postapocalyptic. (Merriam-Webster)
Dystopian novels imagine that “progress” might have terrible results. In other words, striving for utopia might result in horrific dystopia.
10) Dystopian Novels
(Discussion of popular examples.)
11) Welcome to Brave New World
- The year is 632 AF (2540 to you and me).
- There is no war; England and the rest of the world are unified under the control of The World State.
- You live a carefree life. Technological conveniences abound. You do not worry about physical needs, getting old, dating, family life, or personal goals.
- Your job is easy, and you enjoy it. It is what you were born to do.
- Your free time is full of titillating amusements that leave no time for depressing philosophical questions.
- Sounds pretty good, right?
12) The Author: Aldous Huxley
- Born in Godalming, England in 1894
- Childhood nickname: “Ogre”
- A family of scientists and writers
- Mother died when he was 14
- Blind for almost three years as a young man
- Completed first novel at age 17
- “Incompetent” French teacher for 1 year
- Rejected from service in WWI due to poor eyesight
- Worked in a chemical plant and as a farm laborer
- First published novel at age 27
- Moved to Los Angeles in 1937
- Nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature 7 times
13) Historical Context
- Developments in Psychology
- Technology and Industry
- Genetics and Eugenics
- Entertainment and Media
- Social Change
- Government and World Order
- Shattered Optimism
14) Developments in Psychology
- 1879 – The world’s first psychology lab opens in Germany.
- 1897 – Ivan Pavlov publishes his work on the classical conditioning of dogs.
- 1901 – Sigmund Freud publishes The Psychopathology of Everyday Life.
- 1927 – Alois Saliger invents the PsychoPhone for sleep learning.
- 1928 – John B. Watson publishes Psychological Care of Infant and Child.
15) Technology and Industry
Prior to the Great Depression, “The Roaring 20s” marked an increase in the standard of living and consumerism.
This was largely the result of technological advancement and the rise of assembly line manufacturing.
- Zippers (controversial)
- Chewing gum
- The autogiro (early helicopter)
- Ford automobiles
16) Genetics and Eugenics
1900 – Gregor Mendel’s scientific studies of genetic inheritance (from 1865) are rediscovered and replicated.
1921 – The American Eugenics Society (founded) – Eugenics is the disturbing proposition to “improve” the human population through selective breeding.
1928 – Frederick Griffith discovers genetic transformation (dead bacteria can transfer genetic material to “transform” living bacteria).
17) Entertainment and Media
The public gains increased access to new media leading to booms in advertising and professional sports.
1920 – KDKA Pittsburg begins commercial broadcast radio.
1927 – Warner Bros. releases the first sound-synchronized (talkie) motion picture (The Jazz Singer).
1928 – WRGB (then W2XB) becomes the world’s first television station.
18) Social Change
- The Jazz Age / The Roaring 20s
- Sexual revolution
- Harlem Renaissance
19) Government and World Order
The devastation of WWI and the creation of The League of Nations (1919–1946)
The Russian Revolution (1917) and the rise of Communism (“Workers of the world, unite!”)
Fascism takes hold:
1922 – Benito Mussolini and the National Fascist Party (PNF) take control of Italy.
1929 -The Great Depression spurs the growth of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party.
20) Shattered Optimism (The Great Depression)
The Great Depression (1929–1939)
The prosperity and optimism of “The Roaring 20s” came to a screeching halt.
Loss, unemployment, starvation, and instability led many to ask fundamental questions about society, economics, and government.
21) Criticism of Brave New World
The implications and themes of Brave New World offended many readers. Some organizations and institutions banned the novel.
“…an unforgiveable offense to progress.”-Wyndham Lewis
“…Aldous Huxley has no right to betray the future as he did in that book.” -H.G. Wells
“…probably casts no light on the future…” -George Orwell
“…as prophecy it is merely fantastic…” -Gerald Bullett
22) Unit Overview
23) Reading Schedule (5 readings)
Learn more about the reasons behind this structure: Brave New World Reading Schedule.
24) Main Characters
- Bernard Marx: A competent conditioning (brainwashing) expert who struggles to fit in.
- Lenina Crowne: An attractive and charismatic Alpha. Lenina is a perfect citizen of London society in almost every way.
- Helmholtz Watson: An overachiever who feels emptiness in his life despite his success.
- John “The Savage”: An outsider from a different culture who moves into the society as an adult.
- Mustapha Mond: the Controller; one of the masterminds behind the society.
25) As You Read, Watch for…
- Caste systems
- Famous names
- Jesus and Bible Stories
- Allusions to Shakespeare
- Symbolic objects (Have you been paying attention to the Brave New World book covers?)
26) Key Theme Subjects
- Stability vs. freedom
- Truth vs. happiness
- Passion vs. tranquility
- Science / technology
27) Unit Goals
- Explore the idea of utopia.
- Consider Huxley’s speculations.
- Trace theme development focusing on elements like characterization, plot structure, and symbolism.
- Reach conclusions on how Huxley uses allusions (source materials).
- Analyze the author’s style by examining textual evidence.
28) Connections to Life Today
As you read, think about our lives today. Think about…
- Reliance on technology
- Promiscuity / sexuality
- Genetic engineering
- Power (and who has it)
29) Final Task Preview
At the end of the unit, you will write a literary analysis essay on theme development.
Want to give yourself a sneaky advantage? Choose your theme subject in advance and jot down key page numbers as you read.
- Love / romance
- Freedom / liberty
- Scientific and technological advancement
- Truth / knowledge
- Happiness / fun
30) Huxley Quote (2)
“There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”
Thanks for checking out Brave New World Introduction PowerPoint (background and preview)
You really cannot do too much in preparing students for a complex piece of literature. Dropping the book in the laps of the students and telling them to get started results in anxiety, confusion, frustration, and poor results.
If you want to observe compelling discussions and receive excellent student work, you must start on the right foot and set students up for success. For me, this means using a Brave New World Introduction PowerPoint that gives critical background and previews the novel. This presentation is just one part of the complete unit.