The objective of this course is to explore the developments in our
culture over the course of the 20th and 21st centuries as
interpreted through the lens of science fiction. Predominantly, we will focus
on the American short story. Doing so
will allow us to consider a wide range of authors over the entire twentieth
century and into the twenty-first. In
particular, we will consider the American vision of a post-apocalyptic
landscape after World War II, the prevalence of “aliens” and their relationship
to social issues such as feminism and imperialism, and questions of humanity in
regard to robot and cyborg narratives.
A sampling of short story authors we will consider include: Ray
Bradbury, Ursula K Le Guin, Octavia E. Butler, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein,
Harlan Ellison, John Campbell, and Arthur C. Clarke. Although the greatest focus will be on the
short story, we will approach the genre from a myriad of mediums: the novel,
television, film, digital media, and music will all be considered. From Star Trek,to The Thing,to
David Bowie, we will consider science fiction’s place in American popular
culture and our conception of our place in the world.
Evaluation of the course will be based on all of the following: a
mid-term, a final project, 4 essays (about 4 pages each), short response posts
on Laulima, and occasional in-class quizzes.
–Exposure and exploration of a genre of literature as expressed in
various media: short story, novel, film, television, and digital media.
–Increased awareness of the continuities and changes in literary styles
and cultures, particularly in the 20th to the 21st centuries.
–Improved analytical and critical thinking skills through multiple
writing assignments and in-class discussion.
Science Fiction: Stories and Contexts by Heather Masri (we will be reading this
within the first week so if ordering online make sure it will arrive before
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (ISBN: 0345404475)
Portal by Valve (download through Steam)
A course reader available from Professional Image.