English 173 - Spring, 2019

Science Fiction (Cross-listed w/ STS)

Class Information

Instructor: Milburn, Colin
CRN: 71930
Time: TR 12:10-1:30
Location: 1227 Haring


    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; and the invention of the posthuman. The course will cover four chronological periods: the early genre; the Golden Age; the New Wave; and contemporary 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.


    essays; weekly in-class assignments; final exam.


    How to Live Safely in a Science-Fictional Universe, Charles Yu
    Nova, Samuel Delany
    Neuromancer, William Gibson
    The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
    The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume 1, Robert Silverberg, ed.
    Icehenge, Kim Stanley Robinson
    The Time Machine, H. G. Wells
    Dune, Frank Herbert
    Midnight Robber, Nalo Hopkinson