English 159 - Fall, 2016

Topics in the Novel

    Topic: Speculative Fiction

Class Information

Instructor: Lanzendoerfer, Tim
CRN: 32522
Time: TR 3:10-4:30
Location: 1116 Hart


    You know what fantasy literature is; you know what science fiction literature is. But do you know what speculative fiction is? There is a long-standing debate about the term in science-fiction circles, and we will add to this debate by taking a longer and a broader view of the term “speculative” (though not the term “fiction”): a term with currency going back to Kant and Hegel, and which has recently cropped up again in the philosophy of Speculative Realism. The philosophical idea behind the “speculative”—that there are things that cannot be verified but still are true, or effective—we will bring to bear on a range of science-fiction and fantasy texts to ask if there is a unifying potential here beyond the usual strict delineation between the two categories. At the end of the class, we may have sounded the depths of this question: does it make sense to speak of a broader category of “speculative” texts? What do they have in common? What do they not?


    The Time Machine, H.G. Wells / 9780141439976
    I am Legend, Richard Matheson / 9780765357151
    The Dispossessed, Ursula K. LeGuin / 9780062421074
    Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood / 9780385721677
    The Iron Council, China Miéville / 9780345458421
    Equilateral, Ken Kalfus / 9781620400166
    Zone One, Colson Whitehead / 9780307455178
    Science Fiction: A Very Short Introduction, David Seed / 9780199557455