English 90

Practices of Literary Study: Reading and Writing about Science Fiction

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Fall 2022 Snyder, Katherine
MW 2-3:30 Wheeler 301

Book List

Atwood, Margaret: Oryx and Crake; El Akkad, Omar: American War; Ishiguro, Kazuo: Never Let Me Go; Shteyngart, Gary: Super Sad True Love Story

Other Readings and Media

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 possibly watch a couple of movies or TV show episodes.


As a genre, science fiction has always pushed at the limits of the human—What makes us different from machines or animals? What is our place in the universe? What can the future tell us about the present day and the historical past? Yet science fiction has long been seen as a limiting case for literature, as a flimsy gadget unworthy of the serious literary critic whose methodologies are calibrated to more finely-grained texts. This view, however, reveals questionable assumptions about both science fiction and literature, and about what literary critics do when they read and write about them. In this class, we will put our own assumptions to the test, exploring various modes of textual interpretation and developing our analytical and argumentative skills. By attending closely to science fiction short stories and novels in a range of styles and modes, we will ask what makes for good reading and we will practice to become better writers.

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