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F A L L 2 0 1 9

S C I E N C E F I C T I O N & FA N TA S Y
ENGL373 • Professor Boyle • 3 credits

COURSE DESCRIPTION + OBJECTIVES


What does it mean to be human? How do works of science fiction and fantasy represent our
lived realities, define our collective past, and shape our future trajectories? What separates
machine and flesh, imagination and reality, science and literature? This course will explore
these questions and others by examining science fiction and fantasy literature. Together, we
will discuss a variety of literary texts produced in a number of diverse historical moments in
order to understand humanity’s longstanding fascination with SF, its political dimensions, and
its scientific attachments. Reading works by foundational SF authors like Mary Shelley, Ursula
K. Le Guin, Ray Bradbury, Octavia Butler, Aldous Huxley, and C. L. Moore, among others, we
will investigate the genre’s theoretical, scientific, political, and cultural foundations; we will
also examine SF’s major devices, motifs, and concerns in order to develop a collective
definition of the genre and its role in shaping in contemporary social discourse.

REQUIRED TEXTS
For this course, you’re required to have the following texts (in these editions, so check the
ISBN):
★ Margaret Cavendish, The Blazing World (Penguin; 9780140433722);
★ Aldous Huxley, Brave New World (Harper Perennial; 9780060850524);
★ Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (Norton; 9780393920703);
★ Octavia Butler, Kindred (Beacon Press; 9870807083690);
★ Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness (Penguin Galaxy; 9780143111597).

Additional course texts are available on Blackboard (indicated in calendar as “Bb”); please
make sure to always print and bring these with you to class.

GRADES & ASSIGNMENTS


★ attendance (100 pts.): You have four free absences in this class. I don’t need to know why
you aren’t in class, what you’re doing while you’re absent, or anything else about your
missed days. Your attendance grade decreases by one full letter grade (from an A to a B or a
B to a C) for each additional meeting you miss. If there are unusual circumstances related to
your attendance, please communicate with me so we can develop a plan that works for
you.


★ participation (100 pts.): This course best operates in an atmosphere in which each and
every participant feels comfortable expressing his or her ideas, opinions, and questions. For
this reason, I ask that you respect one another as individuals with potentially differing
backgrounds and perspectives. I will not tolerate rudeness or disruption and reserve the
right to ask you to leave if I feel your presence is preventing other students from engaging
with the material (this will count as an absence). If you are not comfortable speaking up in
class, you may email me your thoughts before class (at least 30 minutes prior to our meeting)
so that I may bring them up (without naming the person who emailed them) as topics for
discussion.


★ essays: For this semester, you will


complete three formal writing
assignments: 1.) a passage interrogation;
2.) a critical review; and 3.) a cinematic
SF analysis. You choose the order that
you complete these assignments, but
you will need to adhere to the due dates
posted in the calendar below. Put
differently, you can complete the
passage interrogation for Assignment 1,
2, or 3 (using the readings from units 1, 2,
or 3); the critical review for Assignment 1,
2, or 3 (using the reading from units 1, 2,
or 3); and the SF-on-screen analysis for Assignment 1, 2, or 3 (using readings from units 1, 2,
or 3). You will, however, need to write on one text from each of our first three course units.
A. passage interrogation (150 points):
- For this assignment, select a brief passage from one of our assigned poems
(100-250). Type this passage in a word-processing (Microsoft Word or Pages)
document and use the “Footnote” feature of your word processing software
and the Oxford English Dictionary to interrogate the text. To do so, annotate
the words, phrases, references, and sentences in that passage. Your goal in
this assignment is to observe interactions between the passage’s overall
meaning (and its relationship to the broader work) and its individual parts
(words, phrases, and references).
- Your grade for this assignment will be based on two parts: 1.) your 100-250-word
annotated passage and 2.) a 3-page reflective synthesis essay where you
make explicit connections between the individual items you’ve identified/
annotated in your selected passage and the broader work. Make sure to use
MLA8 or Chicago style, formatting, and citations.
B. critical review (150 points):
- This assignment asks that you select one of our assigned works of fiction and
investigate its critical history using the databases available through Purdue’s
Libraries (you may also use Google Scholar). Once you’ve identified a variety
of scholarly sources (books published by reputable presses, peer-reviewed
essays, chapters in edited collections) about your chosen work of fiction,
select 4 sources to focus on in an annotated bibliography. After writing
bibliographic citations and annotating these sources, write a cover letter
summarizing the major trends you identified in scholarship on your chosen
work of fiction and suggesting avenues for future research.
- Each entry in your critical review should include the following: 1.) a bibliographic
citation (following MLA8 or Chicago), and, 2.) an annotation (with two
paragraphs, the first summarizing the source and the second assessing its
merit and placing it in conversation with the other sources in your critical
review). Each annotation should be 500-750 words.
- Your cover letter should be 1-2 pages in length. Make sure to reference specific
sources included in your annotated bibliography. Formatting, citations, and
style should be consistent throughout this assignment, though you are free
to select whichever citation style (MLA, Chicago, APA, IEEE, whatever) you
prefer.
C. SF-on-screen analysis (150 points):
- Films, like books, are cultural texts that attempt to define, enforce, or challenge
particular social beliefs through the narratives they share. In this way, we
may read both films and books for the particular ways they deploy certain
literary devices to craft narratives about not only the world in which we
presently live, but also the future world we may or may not hope to inhabit.
- In this argumentative essay, you will analyze how, why, and to what ends one of
the films we watch in class adopts and adapts the SF genre’s concerns,
devices, and appeals in order to convey a particular message about
humanity’s past, present, and future to audiences. Your essay should
therefore identify not only what that film’s particular message is and why it
matters but also how the film conveys that message in ways that are in
keeping with and distinct from other SF texts we’ve experienced. Your essay
should reference specific examples from the film and from the literary texts
we discuss as a class.
- Your final essay should be 3-4 pages. Make sure to use MLA8 or Chicago style,
citations, and formatting.


★ sci-ties report (150 pts.): As a genre, SF forges strong ties between literature and science.
SF authors often use their literary texts to understand, explain, reimagine, and challenge
real-world scientific theories and discoveries. Your task is to select one of the works of
fiction we’ll read this semester and investigate its “sci-ties”—its “scientific ties” (it sounds
like “sci-fi,” get it?)—and report on your findings to your peers.
★ To do this, you will work in groups of 2-3 to explore the popular scientific theories or

concerns circulating when your chosen text was (or texts were) written. As a
group, you will create an infographic in which you: 1.) outline the science (primary
concerns, hypotheses, conclusions, researchers, etc.), and, 2.) explain how the
literary work seems (or works seem) to engage or respond to the science. Your
infographic will serve as a handy guide for classmates looking to engage more
deeply with the scientific underpinnings of our texts.
★ We will register for literary texts during the first week of class. The breakdown of
groups will be as follows: groups of 2 for short stories or novellas (you’re
responsible for both short stories, if there are 2); groups of 3 for novels (you’re
responsible for reporting on the entire text, so you may want to read ahead).
★ Your infographic is due the first day we discuss your chosen texts; make sure to
upload your infographic to the course’s Blackboard page before the start of class.
You’ll be asked to speak for 5 minutes to outline your findings. Have fun with
design on this assignment!


★ take-home final exam (100 pts): This take-home final exam, which will be comprised of
multiple-choice and short essay questions, will ask you to showcase your knowledge of
science fiction and fantasy as it has developed over the course of this semester by carefully
engaging with texts from Unit 4. The final exam will be available on the last day we meet,
and your response will be due one week later. In writing your response, make sure to cite
specific passages and examples from our readings, class discussion, and films. Please use
MLA8 or Chicago style, citations, and formatting. This exam is open notes.


★ worksheets (100 pts. [25 pts. each]): We will complete worksheets each time we watch a
film in class. These worksheets will ask straightforward questions about plot, character
development, and literary devices. They are intended as a way for you to identify and
reflect on major narrative moments, which you might draw on when writing your essays.
You should be able to complete these worksheets by the time we finish viewing the film in
class.

All major assignments will be graded on the standard plus-minus letter grade scale. The
breakdown for all major assignments is as follows:
★ 90-93 (A-), 94-96 (A), 97-100 (A+) —The submitted project fulfilled the assignments at

a high-quality level, and the submitted work shows originality and creativity. Work
in this range shows all the qualities listed above for a B; but it also demonstrates an
extra effort to be original or creative in developing content, solving a problem, or
developing a verbal or visual style.
★ 80-83 (B-), 84-86 (B), 87-89 (B+)

—The submitted project


fulfilled the assignment at a
high-quality level. Work in
this range needs little-to-
some revision, is relatively
complete in content, is
organized fairly well, and
shows special attention to
style and visual design.
★ 70-73 (C-), 74-76 (C), 77-79 (C+)

—The submitted project did


what the assignment asked. Work in this range tends to need a bit of revision, but it
is complete in content and the organization is logical. The style, verbal and visual, is
straightforward but unremarkable or somewhat problematic.
★ 60-63 (D-), 64-66 (D), 67-69 (D+)—The submitted project did what the assignment
asked at a low level of quality. Work in this range tends to need significant revision.
The content is often incomplete and the organization is difficult to discern. Verbal
and visual style is often non- existent or chaotic.
★ Below 59 (F)—Don’t go here. I usually reserve the F for people who don’t show up or
don’t do the work. If the submitted project evidences an honest try, I doubt it would
receive an F.

POLICIES
access and accommodations
I want our class to be a welcoming and accessible space for all students regardless of learning
style or disability. If you have any requests for adjustments that would make our class more
accessible for you, please let me know so we can discuss options. You are also encouraged to
contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC), which is located in Young Hall, room 830, by
phone at 765.494.1247 or drc@purdue.edu.

academic integrity
Purdue University takes academic integrity seriously, and so should you. As a writer and
student at Purdue, you are cautioned against the following:
★ submitting someone else's work as your own, even if you have paid for it or obtained

the author's permission;


★ using, without acknowledgment, someone else’s ideas or word-for-word phrases,

sentences, or paragraphs without quotation marks, signal language, and citations;


★ using the materials of another after making only slight changes or using a rewritten

form of someone else's materials.


Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Any student who is found to plagiarize all or part of an
assignment will fail the course.

nondiscrimination
Purdue University is committed to maintaining a community which recognizes and values the
inherent worth and dignity of every person; fosters tolerance, sensitivity, understanding, and
mutual respect among its members; and encourages each individual to strive to reach his or
her own potential. In pursuit of its goal of academic excellence, the University seeks to develop
and nurture diversity. The University believes that diversity among its many members
strengthens the institution, stimulates creativity, promotes the exchange of ideas, and
enriches campus life. Purdue’s nondiscrimination policy can be found at http://
www.purdue.edu/purdue/ea_eou_statement.html.

late work
All projects—unless otherwise noted—should be uploaded to Blackboard by the day and time
they are due. Do not email projects to me. If for whatever reason you are unable to turn in a
project on time (or ahead of time if you plan to miss class), your grade will be docked 10% for
every day it is late. I will not accept any work that is more than 2 days late unless arrangements
have been made prior to the assignment’s due date. I will consider extension requests on a
case-by-base basis, so come talk to me in office hours if you need more time completing an
assignment.

COURSE C ALENDAR
* N.B. This schedule of readings and due dates is subject to change with adequate notice.

UNIT 1: WHERE ARE WE?


WEEK 1 TUESDAY, 8/20 THURSDAY, 8/22
TOPIC Course Introductions Science, History, and the History of
Science

READING Blake, “A Daring Experiment” (Bb)

ASSIGNMENT

WEEK 2 TUESDAY, 8/27 THURSDAY, 8/29


TOPIC Eutopias Eutopias, Continued

READING Cavendish, Blazing World (pp. 119-67) Cavendish, Blazing World (pp. 167-225)
CCtSF, Ch. 16 (Bb)

ASSIGNMENT

WEEK 3 TUESDAY, 9/3 THURSDAY, 9/5


TOPIC Dystopias Dystopias, Continued

READING Huxley, Brave New World (ch. 1-5) Huxley, Brave New World (ch. 6-11)
CCtSF, Ch. 12 (Bb)

ASSIGNMENT

WEEK 4 TUESDAY, 9/10 T H U R S DAY, 9 / 12


TOPIC Dystopias, Continued Apocalypse When?

READING Huxley, Brave New World (ch. 12-18) DuBois, “The Comet” (Bb)
Bradbury, “August 2026” (Bb)
ASSIGNMENT

WEEK 5 T U E S DAY, 9 / 17 T H U R S DAY, 9 / 19


TOPIC No-Places on Screen FILM SCREENING — Wall-E
FILM SCREENING — Wall-E

READING
ASSIGNMENT Film Worksheet Due at the End of Class

UNIT 2: WHO ARE WE?


WEEK 6 TUESDAY, 9/24 THURSDAY, 9/26
TOPIC The Original Experimental Body The Original Experimental Body,
Continued

READING Shelley, Frankenstein (vol. 1) Shelley, Frankenstein (vol. 2)


CCtSF, Ch. 11 (Bb)

ASSIGNMENT Assignment #1 (Unit 1) Due

WEEK 7 TUESDAY, 10/1 THURSDAY, 10/3


TOPIC The Original Experimental Body, Reimagining Frankenstein’s Monster
Continued

READING Shelley, Frankenstein (vol. 3) Moore, No Woman Born (Bb)


CCtSF, Ch. 8 (Bb)

ASSIGNMENT

WEEK 8 TUESDAY, 10/8 THURSDAY, 10/10


TOPIC The Pros and Cons of Innovation
READING NO CLASS Heuler, “Egg Island” (Bb)
— Asimov, “Life and Times of the
FALL BREAK Multivac” (Bb)

ASSIGNMENT

Note:
October 14 - December 7, 2019 — Reception: Oct. 7 @ 5:30pm
Ministr y of Truth: Ar t of the Propaganda Post er
Ringel Gallery, Stewart Center (Purdue)

WEEK 9 T U E S DAY, 10 / 15 T H U R S DAY, 10 / 17


TOPIC Bodies of Science on Screen FILM SCREENING — Young
FILM SCREENING — Young Frankenstein
Frankenstein

READING
ASSIGNMENT Film Worksheet Due at the End of Class

UNIT 3: WHAT TIME IS IT?


WEEK 10 TUESDAY, 10/22 THURSDAY, 10/24
TOPIC The Logic of Time Travel Accessing a Racial Past and Present

READING Asimov, Lastborn (Bb) Butler, Kindred (pp. 9-107)


CCtSF, Ch. 19 (Bb)

ASSIGNMENT Assignment #2 (Unit 2) Due

W E E K 11 TUESDAY, 10/29 T H U R S DAY, 10 / 31


TOPIC Accessing a Racial Past and Present, Accessing a Racial Past and Present,
Continued Continued

READING Butler, Kindred (pp. 108-88) Butler, Kindred (pp. 189-264)

ASSIGNMENT
W E E K 12 T U E S D A Y , 11 / 5 T H U R S D A Y , 11 / 7
TOPIC Navigating Time and Space on Screen FILM SCREENING — Back to the Future
FILM SCREENING — Back to the Future

READING
ASSIGNMENT Film Worksheet Due at the End of Class

UNIT 4: WHO ARE THEY?


W E E K 13 T U E S D A Y , 11 / 1 2 T H U R S D A Y , 11 / 1 4
TOPIC Sex and/in SF Sex and/in SF, Continued

READING Le Guin, Left Hand of Darkness (ch. 1- Le Guin, Left Hand of Darkness (ch.
7) 8-14)
CCtSF , Ch. 10 (Bb)

ASSIGNMENT Assignment #3 (Unit 3) Due

W E E K 14 T U E S D A Y , 11 / 1 9 T H U R S D A Y , 11 / 2 1
TOPIC Sex and/in SF, Continued Dis-eased Bodies

READING Le Guin, Left Hand of Darkness (ch. MacLean, “Contagion” (Bb)


15-20) Butler, “The Evening and the Morning
and the Night" (Bb)

ASSIGNMENT

W E E K 15 T U E S D A Y , 11 / 2 6 T H U R S D A Y , 11 / 2 8
NO CLASS

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
W E E K 16 T U E S DAY, 12 / 3 T H U R S DAY, 12 / 5
TOPIC Reproductive Futures on Screen FILM SCREENING — Children of Men
FILM SCREENING — Children of Men

READING
ASSIGNMENT Film Worksheet Due at the End of Class

Take-Home Final Exam Available on


Blackboard @ Noon

FINALS WEEK T H U R S DAY, 12 / 12


ASSIGNMENT Take-Home Final Exam Due on Blackboard @ 5pm