English 166

Special Topics: Speculative Fictions, Possible Futures


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Summer 2018 O'Brien, Geoffrey G.
TuWTh 4-6:30 Hearst Mining 310

Book List

Butler, Octavia: Kindred; Card, Orson Scott: Ender's Game; Delany, Samuel: Dhalgren; Le Guin, Ursula K.: The Left Hand of Darkness; Mieville, China: Embassytown

Other Readings and Media

a Course Reader (short stories by Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Connie Willis, and others, as well as critical essays by Hazel Carby, Fredric Jameson, and others)

Description

This course will present the genre of speculative fiction and its historical commitment to imagining plausible and implausible alternatives to the present. We will begin by looking at the Golden Age of the science fiction short story, the 1950s and 60s, and then proceed to treat some representative novels from the 1970s to the contemporary. Along the way, we’ll consider some of the crucial topics and concepts that form the imaginary of this genre, from advanced technology and what it affords and subtracts from the human (artificial intelligence, the end of work, extended longevity, interstellar travel and contact with other entities, etc.), to the hyper-urban, as well as questions of race, class, gender, capitalism, war, and colonialization as they encounter and acquire new and estranging contexts. We’ll also attempt to theorize some of the modes and tropes by which such fictions explore these questions: apocalypse, futurity, new bodies and forms of communication, the hivemind, virtuality, and so on, as well as the traditional narrative conventions enlisted to support these representations.

This course will be taught in Session D, from July 3 to August 9.

Other Recent Sections of This Course

fall, 2019

166/1

Special Topics: Getting Global: Literature & Film of an Expanding & Unequal World

166/2

Special Topics: Literature in the Century of Film

166/3

Special Topics: Writing as Social Practice

166/4

Special Topics: Literatures of the Asian Diaspora in America

166/5

Special Topics: Seeing Is Believing: Early Realist Painting and Writing

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Special Topics: Charles Dickens

166/8

Special Topics: Green Thought in a Green Shade

166/9

Special Topics: New Orleans

166/11

Special Topics: The Works of Vladimir Nabokov

Naiman, Eric
spring, 2019

166/1

Special Topics: Gothic

166/2

Special Topics: Marxism and Literature

166/4

Special Topics: Poetry and Prose of Race and Social Class

166/5

Special Topics: Asian American Literature - World, Nation, Locality

166/6

Special Topics: Realism, Then and Now

166/7

Special Topics: Anton Chekhov

Muza, Anna
fall, 2018

166/2

Special Topics: Alfred Hitchcock

166/3

Special Topics: Journeys: British World-Building, c. 700-1700

166/4

Special Topics: "this morning's minion": Sonic Mysticism in Gerard Manley Hopkins and Emily Dickinson

166/5

Special Topics

spring, 2018

166/1

Special Topics: Comedy & Violence

166/2

Special Topics: Romantic Science

166/3

Special Topics: Classical & Renaissance Drama

166/4

Special Topics: Marxism & Literature

166/5

Special Topics: Emily Dickinson

166/6

Special Topics: Speculative Fiction

summer, 2018

166/2

Special Topics: Games of Thrones, Medieval to Modern

fall, 2017

166/3

Special Topics: Black Science Fiction

166/4

Special Topics: Writing Poetry and Nonfiction, Writing as Social Practice

spring, 2017

166/1

Special Topics: Marxism and Literature

166/2

Special Topics: Studies in Literature and Environment (Shelter and Weather)

166/3

Special Topics: Slavery and Conspiracy

166/4

Special Topics: Literature in the Century of Film

166/5

Special Topics: Modern Irish Literature


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