Archive by Author

post-Neuromancer cyberspaces (could be relevant for class!)

25 Apr

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some imagery from Penley’s NASA/Trek

4 Apr

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The non-science-fictional complexities of gender

25 Mar

I hope to show a few minutes of this in class. A question to think about: how might our relationship to The Left Hand of Darkness change if we acknowledge that gender is a lot more complicated than Genly Ai tends to think?

Pulp covers for your edification and in-class backdrop

28 Feb

1927 Amazing Stories cover

1939 Astounding cover

Week 2: Political Utopias and Techno-Topias (Bellamy)

3 Feb

Our first reading for the course is Edward Bellamy’s 1888 novel Looking Backward, 2000-1887.

looking backward

I have also assigned two sections from Phillip Wegner’s 2002 book Imaginary Communities: Utopia, the Nation, and the Spatial Histories of Modernity. The first Wegner reading discusses utopia and modernity in general terms, looking at utopia as a genre of imagined spaces that encourages readers to look critically at the present. The second section discusses Looking Backward –– which Wegner calls “the single most influential narrative utopia of the nineteenth century” –– in detail and elaborates its historical context.

For those of you who have been brave enough  to offer to blog in this first week, I want to offer a little bit of guidance, or at least some ideas you can jump off from.

I suggest that you draw specific passages from the Bellamy (and from Wegner or any other critical or theoretical text that interests you) and explore a particular theme or idea that connects in some way to your research interests. Here are some of the key themes that strike me as interesting places to begin thinking about Bellamy’s novel.

  • Utopia (in its various forms)
  • Modernity (in the context of turn-of-the-century America or perhaps more broadly)
  • Technology and the idea of techno-scientific progress
  • Socialism, liberalism, and the idea of political progress
  • US nationalism and its relationship to the rest of the globe
  • Communication and media
  • Labor and consumption
  • Nature/environment
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Race and ethnicity (is it conspicuous by its absence?)
  • Art and literature

If you’re unfamiliar with WordPress, just make sure you are logged in and then click here to make your blog post. Under “categories” in the right-hand sidebar of the “add new post” page, please check the box for the week in which you are posting (week 2 for now). You should also feel free to add tags that describe the subject matter of your post.

If you’re going to be posting at your own blog, please make a short post at this blog with a link to your entry when you have completed it.

Discussion questions for week 1: thinking about genre, form, imagination

31 Jan

We’ll have a short discussion period in our first class, getting to grips with the idea of science fiction as a genre –– though genre studies will be only one of many critical perspectives we will engage. The readings by Le Guin and Delany open up questions and conflicts regarding content, form, and usefulness that will come up again and again through the semester.

Some questions to get discussion started:

  • What is science fiction? How can we define it? What are its uses? How do each of these three essays answer these questions and how do the answers they suggest contradict or complement one another?
  • What is Le Guin’s argument about imaginative fiction and the American psyche? What distinctions does she draw between science fiction and fantasy? Are Americans still afraid of dragons; how have the dragons that frighten us changed?
  • What does Delany say about genre and form in “About 5,750 Words”? How does he differentiate between realism, science fiction, and fantasy?
  • How does the real world of New York’s racial landscape become central to the idea of what science fiction is for in “The Necessity of Tomorrows”? To what extent does this perspective on speculative fiction seem compatible with Delany’s earlier essay?
  • What role does literary quality play in all three of these arguments?

skiffy whale

30 Jan

flying saucer landing

Welcome to English 762/862, a master’s/doctoral level seminar on speculative fiction at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

As part of the class discussions, we’ll be using this website to post blog entries and discussion questions.

Please sign up to present and blog at this link
. If you plan to blog at your own site, please list the URL so we can link to it from this homepage. We’ll discuss the technicalities of blogging on the first day of class.