English 190

Research Seminar: The Work of Ursula Le Guin


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
8 Fall 2022 Jones, Donna V.
TuTh 5-6:30 Evans 7

Book List

Le Guin, Ursula: The Dispossessed; Le Guin, Ursula: The Lathe of Heaven; Le Guin, Ursula: The Left Hand of Darkness; Le Guin, Ursula: The Unreal and the Real: The Selected Short Stories of Ursula LeGuin; Le Guin, Ursula: The Word for World is Forest; Le Guin, Ursula: Worlds of Exile and Illusion: Three Complete Novels of the Hainish Series in One Volume

Description

“Science Fiction is often described, and even defined, as extrapolative. The science fiction writer is supposed to take a trend or phenomenon of the here-and-now, purify and intensify it for dramatic effect, and extend it into the future. “If this goes on, this is what will happen.” A prediction is made. … The outcome seems almost inevitably to be cancer. … Strictly extrapolative works of science fiction generally arrive about where the Club of Rome arrives: somewhere between human liberty and the total extinction of terrestrial life.”

This course will serve as a deep dive into the fantasy/science fiction work of Berkeley native Ursula LeGuin. As the quote conveys, LeGuin eschewed her peers' and contemporaries' extrapolative narratives and technological determinism. Her fantasies and science fiction dwelt on our imaginative capacity to make and undo the world through culture, custom, language, and technology. But foremost in her extensive oeuvre is the social. We will read a wide selection of LeGuin's novels, short stories, essays, and adaptations of LeGuin's fiction in film and other media. We will also address LeGuin's critics and interlocutors in an attempt to trace the long arc of her influence on genre fiction, traditional narrative fiction, and futurist writings.

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