English 177-2 - Spring, 2021

Study of an Individual Author

Topic: Octavia Butler's Writings

Class Information

Instructor: Hsu, Hsuan L.
CRN: 62142
Time: TR 9:00-10:20
GE Areas: Writing Experience


This class will study groundbreaking works of speculative fiction by the Black feminist author Octavia Butler. We will consider how her experiments with genres such as the neo-slave narrative, the disease outbreak narrative, the captivity narrative, and climate fiction engaged with themes of race, reproduction, colonization, freedom, community, and reimagined modes of kinship. In addition to studying Butler?s appropriation of influential genres, we will read criticism covering a range of historical, theoretical approaches to her work by reading it alongside scholarship on topics such as Black feminism, kinship, genetics, sensory studies, neoliberalism, disability, Afrofuturism, and emergent strategy.

Learning objectives include improving understanding of human-environment interactions, critical thinking, equity issues, and literary analysis. This course fulfills the Writing Experience GE: it requires two or more essays with opportunity to improve your writing by incorporating instructor feedback.

This class will be conducted through a combination of synchronous 50-minute Zoom sessions (approx. 2 weekly) and asynchronous lessons.


attendance, participation, and in-class writing: 45%
short essays: 30%
final essay: 25%


Kindred, Octavia Butler
Clay's Ark, Octavia Butler
Dawn, Octavia Butler
Bloodchild and Other Stories, Octavia Butler
Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler
Emergent Strategy, Adrienne Maree Brown
Octavia's Brood, Adrienne Maree Brown and Walidah Imarisha