Special Topics in Language and Literature: Intro to Science Fiction.


As scientific research becomes ever more arcane, dazzling and terrifying technologies occupy an increasingly central role in our lives. Science fiction responds to this basic condition of modern society: by imagining the implications of new discoveries, it helps to make the human impact of scientific innovation visible. Working at the boundary of knowledge and imagination, it gives us insight into the complicated relationship between individual needs and desires and the natural and technological world. In this course, we will examine the long history of science fiction in the context of scientific revolutions, including new cosmologies, evolution, space exploration, and cybernetics. We will ask how narrative forms shape and are shaped by the ideas they convey, paying close attention to character, description, plotting, and suspense. And we will look at the consolidation of science fiction as a genre over the course of the twentieth century, reflecting on the relationship between popular and canonical writing. Authors will include Bacon, Kepler, Shelley, Wells, Borges, Lem, Dick, and Ballard.

Area requirements for majors to be determined by the Director of Undergraduate Studies in English. One course.