English 166

Special Topics: Black Science Fiction

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
3 Fall 2017 Serpell, C. Namwali
TTh 3:30-5 130 Wheeler American Cultures
American Literature
African American Literature
Special Topics

Book List

Butler, Octavia: Dawn; Delaney, Samuel: Babel-17; Duffy, Damian: Kindred: A Graphic Novel; Johnson, Mat: Pym; LaValle, Victor: Destroyer; Laymon, Kiese: Long Division; Lovecraft, H.P.: The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym; Schuyler, George: Black No More

Other Readings and Media

Screenings of a Star Trek episode (1966), Sun Ra, Space is the Place (1974), John Sayles, The Brother from Another Planet (1984). Stories by Octavia Butler, Ray Bradbury, W.E.B. DuBois, Samuel Delaney, Derrick Bell.


This course addresses two genres—black fiction and science fiction—at their point of intersection, which is sometimes called Afrofuturism. The umbrella term “black fiction” will include texts that issue out of and speculate about the African-American experience. The category “science fiction” will comprise texts that speculate about alternative, cosmic, dystopian, and future worlds. Overlapping—and mutually transforming—concepts will include: genetics, race, diaspora, miscegenation, double consciousness, technology, ecology, biology, language, history, futurity, space (inner and outer), and, of course, the alien. We will consider stories, novels, graphic novels, comics, films, music, and television clips. 

Other Recent Sections of This Course

Spring, 2019
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
166/1 Special Topics: Gothic Duncan, Ian
166/2 Special Topics: Marxism and Literature Gonzalez, Marcial
166/4 Special Topics: Poetry and Prose of Race and Social Class Giscombe, Cecil S.
166/5 Special Topics: Asian American Literature - World, Nation, Locality Leong, Andrew Way
166/6 Special Topics: Realism, Then and Now Cordes Selbin, Jesse
166/7 Special Topics: Anton Chekhov Muza, Anna
Fall, 2018
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
166/2 Special Topics: Alfred Hitchcock Bader, Julia
166/3 Special Topics: Journeys: British World-Building, c. 700-1700 Miller, Jasmin
166/4 Special Topics: "this morning's minion": Sonic Mysticism in Gerard Manley Hopkins and Emily Dickinson Stancek, Claire Marie
166/5 Special Topics Le, Serena
Spring, 2018
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
166/1 Special Topics: Comedy & Violence Flynn, Catherine
166/2 Special Topics: Romantic Science Goldstein, Amanda Jo
166/3 Special Topics: Classical & Renaissance Drama Knapp, Jeffrey
166/4 Special Topics: Marxism & Literature Lye, Colleen
166/5 Special Topics: Emily Dickinson Shoptaw, John
166/6 Special Topics: Speculative Fiction Jones, Donna V.
Summer, 2018
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
166/1 Special Topics: Speculative Fictions, Possible Futures O'Brien, Geoffrey G.
166/2 Special Topics: Games of Thrones, Medieval to Modern Strub, Spencer
Fall, 2017
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
166/4 Special Topics: Writing Poetry and Nonfiction, Writing as Social Practice Giscombe, Cecil S.
Spring, 2017
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
166/1 Special Topics: Marxism and Literature Lye, Colleen
166/2 Special Topics: Studies in Literature and Environment (Shelter and Weather) Francois, Anne-Lise
166/3 Special Topics: Slavery and Conspiracy Wagner, Bryan
166/4 Special Topics: Literature in the Century of Film Goble, Mark
166/5 Special Topics: Modern Irish Literature Falci, Eric

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