Science Fiction Film

English 386.01

TuTh 6:15PM - 7:30PM
Claire Ravenscroft

Science fiction has long been central to American pop culture, helping us think about everything from nuclear weapons to iPhones to what it means to be “human.” Sci-fi captures us at our most ambitious and heroic, but also our most paranoid and misguided. Today, the glittering techno-utopias of sci-fi’s golden age have yielded to horror plots, zombie thrillers and eco-apocalypses. The worlds of Get Out, 28 Days Later and Children of Men transport us to worlds that are alien, unfamiliar and yet more recognizable than we might like. Who do these stories teach us to be? How do they teach us to think? What do they make possible, or keep out of reach? Approaching climate change, free trade, state power, population, genetics, computers, aliens, blobs, fifty-foot tall women and creatures from black lagoons as simultaneously technological, political and literary objects, we will follow the history of postwar American science fiction film to the emergence of today’s “climate fiction” and grapple with the difficult questions these genres pose.

Our course texts will include such films as 2001: A Space Odyssey, RoboCop, Godzilla, Night of the Living Dead, Her and Invasion of the Body-Snatchers; episodes of Black Mirror and The Twilight Zone; and short fiction by major sci-fi authors like Ursula Le Guin, H.P. Lovecraft, Kim Stanley Robinson and Octavia Butler. Assessment for the course will be based on participation in classroom discussions, a film or book review, and two analytic essays. This course counts toward the ALP and W codes. No prerequisites; students of any year and from any major are welcome! Please email questions to the instructor at claire.ravenscroft@duke.edu.

Crosslisting Numbers: 

Art History 238

Curriculum Codes: 

ALP, W