English 173 - Spring, 2022

Science Fiction

Topic: Cross-listed with STS

Class Information

Instructor: Milburn, Colin
CRN: 42137
Time: MWF 10:00-10:50
Location: 230 Wellman
GE Areas: Writing Experience


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; quizzes; final exam.


Neuromancer, William Gibson
The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
Stories of Your Life and Others, Ted Chiang
Nova, Samuel Delany
The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume 1, Robert Silverberg, ed.
Midnight Robber, Nalo Hopkinson
Aurora, Kim Stanley Robinson
The Time Machine, H. G. Wells
Dune, Frank Herbert