English R1B

Reading and Composition: Science Fiction

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
24 Fall 2022 Delehanty, Patrick
TuTh 6:30-8 Dwinelle 254

Book List

Dick, Philip K.: Ubik; Ellison et al.: Dangerous Visions; Gibson, William: Neuromancer; Johnson, Denis: Fiskadoro; Le Guin, Ursula K. : The Dispossessed; Lem, Stanislaw: Solaris; Miller, Walter J. : A Canticle for Leibowitz; Strugatsky, Boris & Arkady: Roadside Picnic

Other Readings and Media

Films and TV episodes: Stalker (dir. Andrei Tarkovsky), La Jetee (dir. Chris Marker), Blade Runner (dir. Ridley Scott), Star Trek Deep Space NineThe Outer Limits

Short stories by Samuel Delany, Harlan Ellison, Philip K Dick, Theodore Sturgeon, JG Ballard, Kim Stanley Robinson, and others 


“We have no need of other worlds. We need mirrors. We don't know what to do with other worlds. A single world, our own, suffices us; but we can't accept it for what it is.”       -Stanislaw Lem, Solaris.

Science fiction, or speculative fiction as it's sometimes called, has often been referred to as a literature of ideas. This designation has both accentuated its philosophical character and set it apart from "real" literature. In this course, we will examine both aspects, and we will see how our texts, by imagining different futures, alien encounters, radical technologies, the apocalypse, utopias and dystopias, and any number of different worlds and fantastic situations, imagine not only what the future may hold, but also hold up a mirror to the present. 

Rather than looking at the whole history of the genre, this course is primarily centered around texts from the 1960s through the 1980s, often referred to as "new wave" sci-fi. This period saw a transition away from the sci-fi of the first half of the 20th century, which primarily appeared in pulp magazines and was often aimed at children and young adults, to a new, more mature, ambitious, and daring literary sensibility. We will also be looking at some films and television shows, including some written by the authors we will be reading. Possible topics include utopia/dystopia, the interaction between humans and technology, cyclical history and religion, alien encounters, post-humanism, and political imaginaries.    

In addition to cultivating your critical thinking and literary analysis skills, this course will help to strengthen your academic and analytic writing. Becoming a better writer requires practice; as such, you will be required to write several essays of increasing length as the semester progresses, as well as revising your writing heavily. We will also work on improving your writing through shorter assignments such as reflections, responses, and revisions. Moreover, since this course is R1B, we will focus on conducting original research, including finding sources and coming up with an original research topic. The class will culminate in a research paper on a topic of your choice.

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