English 173 - Winter, 2015

Science Fiction

Class Information

Instructor: Milburn, Colin
CRN: 93569
Time: MWF 1:10-2:00
Location: 106 Wellman


    Since its emergence in the early nineteenth century, science fiction (sf) has performed a powerful role in constructing our conceptions of the future and what it means to be human in a high-tech world. This course will explore the history and development of science fiction as a literary genre and a cultural discourse. During the quarter, we will study the following topics: genre theory and definitions of sf; the relations between sf and science; the political significance of imagining alternative worlds or futures; alien zones and fictional ethnographies; technological enhancement and the invention of the posthuman; and science fiction across media. The course will cover three chronological periods: the early genre; the “Golden Age”; and postmodern science fiction. For each period we will study representative novels, short stories, and other media forms. In addition to surveying the evolution of the genre and its major thematic concerns, we will focus on developing close-reading skills and practicing techniques of literary analysis.


    2 essays; weekly writing exercises; final exam.


    The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume 1, Robert Silverberg, ed.
    Dune, Frank Herbert
    Neuromancer, William Gibson
    The Time Machine, H. G. Wells
    Ubik, Philip K. Dick
    Icehenge, Kim Stanley Robinson
    The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin