English 179 - Winter, 2019

Topics in Comparative American Literatures

    Topic: Science Fictional and Fantasy World Building Across U.S. Racial Formations

Class Information

Instructor: Jerng, Mark
Time: TR 3:10-4:30
Location: 217 Olson


    Can science fiction and fantasy grasp our shared and unshared conditions of lived experience better than modes of realism? What kinds of selves, what understandings of history, what interrelations between capital, empire, and human are understood better through science ficctional and fantasy world-building? This class explores world-building as a narrative technique honed within genre fiction in order to think about how these genres provide a better account of the multiple ways in which racialization operates in ways that serve social organizations and geographies of political and economic power. In what ways are fantasy and science fiction better resources for expressing the co-existence of formal equality and structural inequality, a better way of exploring a moment of race relations in which symbolic gains co-exist with increased dispossession for others, and in which slavery gets revived in various forms of unfreedom and ownership? This course focuses on SF and fantasy writers including Octavia Butler, Samuel Delany, Kenneth Liu, NK Jemisin, Larissa Lai, Victor Lavalle, to analyze the relationships among race, historicity, territory, capital, and humanness in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century.


    Lecture Participation and Attendance: 15%
    Critical Reflection Paper #1: 15%
    Critical Reflection Paper #2: 20%
    Rough Draft Assignment: 10%
    Research Paper 20%
    Final Exam: 20%


    Return to Neveryon, Samuel Delany
    Kindred, Octavia Butler
    The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin
    Salt-Fish Girl, Larissa Lai
    The Destroyer, Victor Lavalle