English 180Z

Science Fiction

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Session Course Areas
1 Summer 2022 Drawdy, Miles
TWTh 3-5:30 108 Wheeler D


E.M. Forster begins his classic science fiction novella, “The Machine Stops,” with a question disguised as an invitation: “Imagine, if you can…” But what exactly is the use of imagination? And what exactly are its limits? In this course, we will pursue these questions as we explore the history of science fiction—as both a literary genre and an intellectual experiment—from the 1950s to the present. We will begin by reading a selection of short stories from the middle decades of the twentieth century (e.g. Asimov, Bradbury, Vonnegut) before turning to a few representative novels from the 1970s to the present. We’ll conclude by considering the strange anomaly that is science fiction theater. Throughout our discussions, we will take up many of the questions and concepts that have come to characterize this genre: advanced technology and the values of labor, the category of the human, climate crises and the (post)apocalyptic, colonialism, simulation and the virtual, as well as the myriad intersections of race, class, language, and (dis)ability. Ultimately, we will ask how literature itself as a technology mediates these questions.

While the great bulk of our time and attention will be dedicated to our selected literary texts, students should expect brief forays (side quests, as it were) into the worlds of Janelle Monae, Black Mirror, and the 2016 Met Gala, to name a few. 

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