Reading & Composition
Possible Futures: Revolutionary Promises and Science Fiction
This course centers on three science fiction novels that take seriously the possibility of revolution. Reading novels by Ann Leckie, Ursula K. Le Guin, and China Miéville alongside works by theorists of gender, political economics, postcolonialism, posthumanism, linguistics, and more, we’ll consider a number of questions about the intersection between speculative fiction and revolutionary thought: To what extent do these representations of alien worlds reflect truths about the past and present of our own world, and how do they interrogate and challenge the assumptions that undergird our reality? What alternate histories and possible futures do they imagine for us, and what would it take to achieve them? What alternative visions do they put forth for the relationship between the individual and collective, the human and nonhuman, the self and other? How do they help us to see beyond the limitations of our own understanding of gender, race, class, nation, and culture?
What happens the day after the revolution: can revolution keep its promises? What revolutionary potential does science fiction have as a literary form, and to what extent do these texts seek to effect revolutionary change in their readers and in the world? With these texts as our common terrain, we’ll devote ourselves to the development of critical reading and analytical writing skills, learning to become more careful readers and writers and to advance increasingly complex interpretive arguments about literary texts. Course requirements include active class participation, daily in-class reading responses, a diagnostic paper, a close reading paper and revision, and first and revised drafts of two analytic papers. The second of these two papers will introduce students to research practices and to writing with sources. Students in this course can expect to read (and reread) carefully and to write (and rewrite) extensively over the course of the semester.
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed
Ann Leckie, Ancillary Justice
China Miéville, Embassytown
*Please obtain print copies (as opposed to e-books) of all required course texts.
Fritz Lang, Metropolis
A course reader will contain selections by Walter Benjamin, Judith Butler, Frantz Fanon, Donna Haraway, Karl Marx, Thomas More, Ferdinand de Saussure, Victor Shklovsky, and others, as well as selected texts on writing and research.