English 180Z

Science Fiction

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2021 Snyder, Katherine
TTh 2-3:30

Book List

Atwood, Margaret: Oryx and Crake; Butler, Octavia: Bloodchild; Dick, Philip K.: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?; Forster, E.M.: The Machine Stops; Ishiguro, Kazuo: Never Let Me Go; Wells, H.G.: The War of the Worlds; Whitehead, Colson: Zone One


“Not real can tell us about real.” This is one of the fundamental lessons learned by a new race of genetically engineered trans-humans in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake. It is also one of the fundamental principles of the popular narrative genre known as science fiction. In this course, we will explore some of the landmarks and lesser known way-stations of this diverse tradition, attending to the cultural and political implications of these brave new worlds and the creatures in them. Themes and topics to include: time travel and space travel; language, codes, and data; embodiment and cognition; science and technology; alternate history and speculative futurism; utopia/dystopia and post/apocalypse; eco-disaster and terraforming. In reading stories about clones, robots, aliens, zombies, and monsters, we will ask ourselves: what does it mean to be human?

Novels will likely include some of those listed here but the readings for the course haven't yet been finalized, so don’t buy the books until after our first class meeting. We will also read a number of short stories and watch several movies and/or TV show episodes.

In additional to the required reading and viewing, assignments for the course will include frequent bCourses posts, two short essays, a midterm, and a final exam.

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