C Lit 240B, Fall 2019
T/Th 10:30-12:20 MEB 245
Instructor: Mimi Nielsen
Any situation in which some [people] prevent others from
engaging in the process of inquiry is one of violence.
Speculative fiction renders the familiar unfamiliar and the unfamiliar familiar. Science fiction, one of the sub-genres included under this heading, imaginatively pushes the bounds of biology, technology, and the universe as we understand them, often leading to catastrophic scenarios or fantastical solutions to natural phenomena and human dilemmas. Viewed on a continuum, as escapist fantasy or scientifically grounded imaginative realism, it submerges us in life-altering stories of change, often cataclysmic in scale.
The course readings will primarily consist of science fiction but may also include other speculative fiction sub-genres. During class discussions, we will parse how the different narratives’ worldbuilding configure value as they address topics such as innovation, the environment (writ large), sociopolitical systems, and more. We will consider the significance of how wonder, love, belonging, loss, alienation, and hope are portrayed. We will discuss what our texts convey about what it means to be human, sentient, or artificial intelligence and the implications for the depicted societies. Questions of ethics and what constitutes ‘right action’ run like a thread through all of our texts.
Finally, we will attend to how these fantastical portrayals affect us as readers. What can we glean from our engagement and how might our responses inform our ideas about particular texts, characters, or situations? We will explore these questions and more, drawing on our discussions to propel and craft thoughtful analysis and textually substantiated writing assignments.
The aim of C Lit 240 is to develop critical reading and academic writing skills. With this in mind, C Lit 240B is designed to facilitate student fluency in generating questions, performing textual analysis, and articulating a point of view supported by textual evidence.