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