This course will explore the topic of science fiction and the frontier. Probably most of you have heard Captain James Kirk intone the phrase, “Space, the final frontier” at the opening of an old Star Trek episode. In this course we will be comparing science fiction with some other modes of adventure fiction about the frontier—the imperial adventure story (H. Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines) and the American Western (Owen Wister’s The Virginian and the 1952 film High Noon). We’ll also be asking how the notion of the frontier looks from the point of view of those for whom the frontiersmen are not pioneers but invaders, in Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction. The bulk of the course will be devoted to reading and discussing some science fiction classics about exploring various sorts of frontiers, including H. G. Wells, The First Men in the Moon; StanislawLem, Solaris; Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars; a bunch of short stories by different hands including Stanley Weinbaum, Catherine L. Moore, Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, and others; and three SF films: 2001: A Space Odyssey; Monsters(2010, dir. Gareth Edwards), and Avatar.
This course will have a strong emphasis on discussion and student participation. I expect to see fully awake, bright-eyed students in class who have done the reading and are eager to talk about it. If that sounds like you, welcome aboard.
Requirements include full attendance, one 4-page paper, one 10-page research paper, two class presentations, and the final exam.