Anthem is Ayn Rand’s “hymn to man’s ego.” It is the story of a young man, Equality 7-2521, who yearns for knowledge. But he lives in a bleak, dystopian future where science and technology have regressed to primitive levels, and where independent thought, personal possessions and romantic love are abolished. Obedience to the group is so deeply ingrained that the very word “I” has been erased from the language. How can Equality 7-2521 free himself from this totalitarian, collectivist society?

This video lecture course is an introduction to Anthem that includes background material on Rand and the era in which she wrote, an overview of the story, an analysis of the characters, a discussion of the story’s themes and brief comparisons to other well-known dystopian works. Among the questions answered in this course:

  • How did Rand think of the idea for Anthem?
  • What is most important about the characters Equality 7-2521 and Liberty 5-3000?
  • What ideas led to the dismal world depicted in Anthem?
  • Why does Rand consider the word “ego” to be sacred?
  • How does Anthem compare to novels such as Brave New World and 1984?

High school students studying the book will find this course especially valuable, but the material is designed to interest viewers on all levels. You may take the whole course in sequence or choose to select lessons of particular interest, since each lesson is a self-contained module. Teachers who wish to use the course for classroom instruction are encouraged to select lessons most relevant to their instructional goals.

Spoiler alert: This course assumes that students have read Anthem.