Course description

Mutants, robots, zombies, vampires, and other super- or non-human beings abound in popular literature and media today. These extraordinary figures and the fantastical, often dystopian worlds they inhabit have become rather ordinary components of our shared cultural landscape. They point, moreover, to the ways in which science and speculative fiction as a genre speaks to our contemporary moment. In this course we will examine a range of cultural texts, including short stories, novels, film, comics, and visual art, to explore how science and speculative fictions allow us to envision other timespaces, dimensions, and worlds. Contemplating these texts in relation to each other and the genre of science and speculative fiction will create room for discussing changing conceptions of the human, alternate representations of race, gender, and sexuality, the contradictions of technology, and the possibilities for social justice in the present.

Learning Goals

  • To acquire a deeper understanding of the 21st century by engaging in critical dialogue about the genre of science and speculative fiction and its relationship to contemporary phenomena
  • To sharpen textual analysis skills by close reading different media forms in short blogging assignments and formal papers
  • To develop confidence in written and oral expression by thinking and writing collaboratively as well as facilitating class discussion in response to cultural texts of the present moment

Core Goals Fulfilled by this Course

  • 21st Century Challenges: a. Analyze the degree to which forms of human difference shape a person’s experiences of and perspectives on the world; d. Analyze issues of social justice across local and global contexts.
    • We will fulfill this goal through an engagement with contemporary science and speculative fictions written by authors of diverse backgrounds as well as through a deep exploration of questions pertaining to social and material inequality, racial and sexual discrimination, global climate change, etc.    
  • Areas of Inquiry–Arts and the Humanities: b. Analyze arts and/or literatures in themselves and in relation to specific histories, values, languages, cultures, and technologies.
    • We will fulfill this goal by carefully situating and close reading all course texts.

Required Materials

  • Ink, Sabrina Vourvoulias (2012)- ISBN-13: 978-0615657813
  • Fledgling, Octavia Butler (2007)- ISBN-13: 978-0446696166
  • The Shadow Hero, Gene Luen Yang & Sonny Liew (2014)- ISBN-13: 978-1596436978
  • Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal, G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona (2014); ISBN-13: 978-0785190219
  • Orleans, Sherri L. Smith (2014)- ISBN-13: 978-0147509963
  • A journal



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