English N1B

Reading & Composition: Techno-Orientalism

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Session Course Areas
1 Summer 2012 Fan, Christopher Tzechung
TTh 10-12 81 Evans

Book List

Gibson, William: Neuromancer; McHugh, Maureen F.: China Mountain Zhang; Sterling, Bruce: Mirrorshades

Other Readings and Media

A reader will be provided on the class bSpace site in PDF format. We will also be watching a number of films, including the Wachowski brothers' first Matrix film (1999), the pilot episodes for Ronald D. Moore's 2003 Battlestar Galactica reboot, and Joss Whedon's Serenity (2005).


Course Objectives
This course will focus on developing students’ practical fluency with exposition and argumentation, with an emphasis on research skills. A short diagnostic essay will be assigned at the beginning of the semester followed by two progressively longer essays (totaling at least 16 typewritten pages). These will be substantially revised and accompanied by various research activities and exercises.

Course Description

Since the ‘70s, American perceptions of Asia—especially of Japan and China—have typically been wrapped in anxieties over technology. These anxieties become most obvious in ‘80s science fiction (sf) film and literature: in particular, the genre called “cyberpunk.” While the techno-Orientalism of the ‘80s was weighted more by fears of Japanese technology and takeover of American businesses, in the ‘90s, that weight shifted to a rapidly modernizing China. The argument this course will consider is how this shift has revealed the limitations of cyberpunk as a genre, and how it has produced a new set of aesthetics—what I call “naturalism with Chinese characteristics.” We will explore this question, and techno-Orientalism more broadly, in some really awesome films and books from the ‘70s onward.

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