Literature of Science Fiction

Course Number: ENG 261
Transcript Title: Literature of Science Fiction
Created: September 1, 2012
Updated: January 22, 2016
Total Credits: 4
Lecture Hours: 40
Lecture / Lab Hours: 0
Lab Hours: 0
Satisfies Cultural Literacy requirement: No
Satisfies General Education requirement: Yes
Grading options: A-F (default), P-NP, audit
Repeats available for credit: 0

Prerequisite / Concurrent

Course Description

Explores the roots of science fiction as well as classic and modern works of science fiction and speculative literature. Introduces common themes in science fiction, the various ideological underpinnings of science fiction, and the way such literature comments on current issues in society and presents new ideas to society. Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes

Upon successful completion students should be able to:

  1. Recognize the elements common to science fiction that distinguish it from other genres and analyze science fiction works from various critical approaches using appropriate literary terminology.
  2. Create critical hypotheses about texts and argue for their validity using textual evidence.
  3. Analyze the ways in which science fiction reflects and distorts "reality" and the ideological arguments underlying its presentations.
  4. Explore the tradition of science fiction and discover ways in which authors have recognized the possibilities of the genre by examining a variety of modern and classic works.
  5. Examine different presentations in science fiction of gender, science and technology, governmental systems, culture, religion and ethnicity.
  6. Write clear, focused coherent essays about science fiction for an academic audience using standard English conventions of grammar and style.

Alignment with Institutional Core Learning Outcomes

1. Communicate effectively using appropriate reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. (Communication)
2. Creatively solve problems by using relevant methods of research, personal reflection, reasoning, and evaluation of information. (Critical thinking and Problem-Solving)
3. Apply the knowledge, skills and abilities to enter and succeed in a defined profession or advanced academic program. (Professional Competence)
4. Appreciate cultural diversity and constructively address issues that arise out of cultural differences in the workplace and community. (Cultural Awareness)
5. Recognize the consequences of human activity upon our social and natural world. (Community and Environmental Responsibility)

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Assessment tools may include informal responses to study questions; evaluation of small- and full-group discussion; in-class and out-of-class writing; formal essays as well as informal responses to study questions and other types of informal writing; presentations by individuals and groups; short and long essay exams; close reading exercises using support/evidence; writing exercises which include evaluation of various interpretations of a text and their relative validity. Both instructor and peer evaluation may be incorporated in the assessment process.

Students who miss more than a week's worth of class may not receive an A; those who miss two weeks' worth of class may not pass the course.

Course Activities and Design

Students read, discuss, and write about assigned readings. Class time might consist of teacher and/or student lecture, discussion, small group work, in-class writing, viewing videos, examining art related to science fiction, and other activities appropriate to the class.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Themes, Concepts and Issues

  • Theme
  • Setting
  • Plot
  • Narrative styles
  • Rhetorical strategies
  • Stereotyping
  • Stock characters
  • Gender issues
  • Didacticism
  • History of science fiction
  • Robots
  • Exobiology
  • Hard science fiction
  • Space opera
  • Pastoralism
  • Terraforming
  • Apocalypse
  • Aliens
  • Biopolitics
  • Grand masters
  • Utopias/Dystopias
  • Heroes
  • Relationship(s) between science fiction and other genres
  • Cyberpunk
  • Magical Realism
  • New Criticism
  • New Historicism
  • Feminist theory
  • Psychoanalytic theory
  • Marxist theory
  • Structuralist theory
  • Postmodern theory
  • Reader response theory

Competencies and Skills

  • Analysis.
  • Synthesis.
  • Understanding science fiction through contexts such as society, politics, artistic conventions, multiple interpretations of an author, etc.
  • Writing about science fiction.
  • Close readings.
  • Critical reading employing reviews and critical essays.
  • Speaking and listening reflectively.
  • Small-group collaboration.

Department Notes

Course texts may include anthologies, collections, novels, magazines, or other works the instructor deems appropriate. Instructors may also include additional works from related or sub genres, such as fantasy, magical realism or cyber-punk, cinematic or video texts, and/or critical works about science fiction.