English 150

Senior Seminar: Alternate Histories - Counterfacts and Fictions

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
9 Spring 2007 Gallagher, Catherine
Gallagher, Catherine
TTh 12:30-2 210 Dwinelle

Other Readings and Media

Amis, Kingsley: The Alteration; Borges, Jorge Luis: Labyrinths: Selected Stories & Other Writings; Butler, Octavia: Kindred; Cowley, Robert (ed.): What Ifs? Of American History; Dick, Philip K.: The Man in the High Castle; Greenberg, Martin (ed.): The Best Alternate History Stories of the 20th Century; Kantor, MacKinlay: If the South Had Won the Civil War; Macksey, Kenneth: Invasion; Roth, Philip: The Plot Against America


This course aims to increase awareness of a widespread intellectual trend?the popularity of alternate history in numerous fields?while also learning to discern its variations across the cultural landscape. We will intensively explore the logic, formal traits, and varieties of alternate-history writing as it has been practiced over the last seventy years by avant-garde, mainstream, and science fiction writers, as well as by amateur and professional historians. One of our tasks will be to distinguish between ?counterfactual? history and outright fiction, discovering the inherent differences between their narrative forms as well as examples of merged form. We will also pursue alternate history?s links to: theoretical speculations in physics, political movements for redress, innovations in statistical analysis, military training, legal proceedings, historical regret, digital technology, and literary experimentation.

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