UWB BIS 384A, Autumn 2007
Literary and Popular Genres: The Social Functions of Science Fiction

Schedule and Announcements

Class meetings: T/Th 5:45-7:50 in UW1-020
Instructor: Joanne Woiak
Office: UW2-335, T/Th 4-5 pm and by appointment

Announcement: schedule changes for weeks 8-9. In class on Tues Nov 13, we'll watch Dark City. For Wed, post a response to the film and/or the Gibson short story "Burning Chrome." Nov 13 also hand in a brief proposal for your final project (assignments page).
Tues Nov 20 NO class meeting. But by Tues night post a response to any one or more of the "new wave" texts (Tiptree, Brunner, or Ellison). We will talk about them further in class the next week.

Screening of Blade Runner: The Final Cut (limited run Cinerama, Oct 26 - Nov1), new opening titles (Youtube)
800 Words: The Transmigration of Philip K. Dick (play about the SF writer, at Live Girls! Theater thru Nov 17)

Syllabus (in Word) (online)

ESSAY #1, due TUES Oct 16 (handout in Word) (online)

ESSAY #2, due Tues Nov 6 (handout in Word) (online).
Some additional resources on early SF can be found on the "Extras" page of this website and on the course reserves shelf in the library.

FINAL CREATIVE PROJECT (handout in Word) (online)
proposal due on Nov 13; project due on Dec 6

Most of the videos (required texts) shown in class are on reserve in the Campus Media Center.
Link to list of course materials on reserve in the library.

GoPost discussion board for this class (weekly postings required): https://catalysttools.washington.edu/gopost/board/jwoiak/2293/

Weeks 1-2

Sept 27 Introduction: Science fiction and social issues

Oct 2 The scientific age: writing and reading SF
READ (before class starts):
Judith Merril, "That Only a Mother" (1948) (pdf)
Samuel Delany, "Aye, and Gomorrah" (1966) (pdf 900kb)
"Definitions of SF" (from Encyclopedia of Science Fiction) (pdf 2Mb)(
link to website with same document)
Thomas Disch, "From the Earth to the Moon--in 101 Years" (pdf 2.5Mb)

Lecture/discussion notes about being a "generically informed reader of SF" (Word doc).

W Oct 3 by 8pm: post your response(s) to the reading questions about the novel War of the Worlds that I put on GoPost. Bookmark this URL for the discussion board: https://catalysttools.washington.edu/gopost/board/jwoiak/2293/

Oct 4 READ BOOK (all of it by the start of class): H. G. Wells, The War of the Worlds (1898). Although not required for class, you might enjoy listening to the 1938 Orson Welles broadcast as well (mp3 link). We also watched more of the 2003 Battlestar Galactica miniseries.

EXTRA: Happy anniversary, Sputnik (Wired article) (movie October Sky).

Sun Oct 7 by 8pm: contribute at least one posting to the ongoing class discussion about War of the Worlds on GoPost.

Weeks 3-4

Oct 9 FILM shown in class: The War of the Worlds (1953)
READ (examples of SF scholarly criticism):
Darko Suvin, "Estrangement and Cognition" (pdf 870kb)
Samuel Delany, "Science Fiction and 'Literature'" (pdf 1.2Mb)

W Oct 10 by 8pm: contribute at least one posting about War of the Worlds movie and your response to the questions about R.U.R. https://catalysttools.washington.edu/gopost/board/jwoiak/2293/

Oct 11 READ BOOK: Karel Capek, R.U.R. (1920)
EXTRA: Images from performances of the play (and plot summary) here and here and here
"The Author of the Robots Defends Himself" (html)

Sun Oct 14 by 8pm: post your response to continuing class discussion about R.U.R.

Oct 16 FILM: Metropolis (1926)
ESSAY #1 DUE (see handout)
READ (scholarly criticism):
Raymond Williams, "Utopia and Science Fiction" (pdf 870kb)
J. P. Telotte, "Lost in Space: Television as Science Fiction Icon" (pdf)

W Oct 17 by 8pm: post responses to Metropolis and the first 5 chapters of We.
1. Metropolis: What technologies are depicted in the film? What do you think are the main themes?
2. We: Discuss your first impressions of the beginning of the book (Records 1-5). In particular, what do you notice is significant about the narration, characters, terminology, setting, symbolism, and/or metaphors?

Oct 18 READ BOOK: Yevgeny Zamyatin, We (1920). New instructions: We'll discuss Records 1-18 for class today. We'll talk about the remainder of the book next Tues.

Sun Oct 21 by 8pm: contribute to online discussion of book and/or film.

Weeks 5-6

Oct 23 FILM: Frankenstein (1931)
Finish We (chapters 18-end) and discuss in class.
Brooks Landon, "Classics and Clunkers: Why Science Fiction Film is Not Science Fiction Literature and Why That's Not So Bad" (pdf 2.5Mb)

W Oct 24 by 8pm: post response to the film Frankenstein (and compare with Metropolis).
Oct 25 The Golden Age: Short Stories and Magazines
Isaac Asimov, "Nightfall" (correct date is Sept 1941 in Astounding SF) (pdf 3Mb)
C. L. Moore, "No Woman Born" (Dec 1944 in Astounding SF) (pdf 3.7Mb)
Brian Attebery, "The Magazine Era: 1926-1960" (pdf 1.3Mb)

Sun Oct 28 by 8pm: post to the discussion about this week's short stories.

Oct 30 READ BOOK: Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 (1953)

W Oct 31 by 8pm: post a response to Fahrenheit 451.

Nov 1 FILM: Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
Theodore Sturgeon, "Thunder and Roses" (1947) (pdf 2Mb) (pdf here are the missing pages 366-67, but from a different text, sorry!)
T. A. Shippey, "The Cold War in Science Fiction, 1940-1960" (pdf 1.3Mb)

Sun Nov 4: NO posting due, work on essays!

Weeks 7-8

Nov 6 FILM: A Scanner Darkly (2006)
ESSAY #2 DUE at the start of class (handout in Word)
Philip K. Dick, "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" (1966) (pdf 2.5Mb)
Damien Broderick, "New Wave and Backwash: 1960-1980" (pdf 1.3Mb)

W Nov 7 by 8pm: post responses to the film and/or story from Tues.

Nov 8 READ BOOK: Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle (1963)

Sun Nov 11 by 10pm: post responses to Cat's Cradle.

Nov 13 CHANGED FILM: Dark City (1998)
William Gibson, "Burning Chrome" (1985) (pdf 1Mb)
Bruce Sterling, "Slipstream" (link)

PROPOSAL for final essay/project DUE

W Nov 14 by 10pm: post responses to Dark City and Lathe of Heaven.

Nov 15 READ BOOK: Ursula K. LeGuin, Lathe of Heaven (1971)

Sun Nov 18: NO postings due.

Weeks 9-10

Nov 20 NO class meeting today.
CHANGED READ on your own these examples of "the new wave":
James Tiptree, Jr., "The Girl Who Was Plugged In" (1973) (pdf 4.8Mb)
John Brunner, from Stand on Zanzibar (1968) (pdf 650kb)
Harlan Ellison, "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream" (1967) (pdf 780kb)

Tues Nov 20 by 8pm, post a response to any of the texts for today.


Nov 27 New Wave and Graphic Novels (post about the readings if you haven't done so already)
(1986), first 2 chapters, book on reserve in library. Extra: some analysis of the graphic novel genre, by SF writer Norman Spinrad (pdf), and chapter summaries (link).
Discuss in class also: James Tiptree, Jr., "The Girl Who Was Plugged In" (1973) (pdf 4.8Mb). NY Times review of biography of Tiptree titled "Alice's Alias" (link).
John Brunner, from Stand on Zanzibar (1968) (pdf 650kb)
Harlan Ellison, "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream" (1967) (pdf 780kb)

Nov 29 FILM: V for Vendetta (2006), based on graphic novel by Alan Moore. Harsh but informative review in the New Yorker; Wiki entry.

Dec 4 Consultations about final projects: attendance is mandatory. Bring the writing and ideas you have so far, so you can workshop with fellow students. I can also do individual consultations before and during class, so contact me if you want that. (Or we can meet on the 6th or talk on email.) I'll also ask you to fill out course evaluations at the beginning of class.

Dec 6 FILM: Battlestar Galactica: Razor (2007). Review (link)

Tues Dec 11, 6pm: PAPER/PROJECT DUE
submit hard copy to UW2-335 or email Word attachment to jwoiak@u
Send mail to: jwoiak at u.washington.edu
Last modified: 12/19/2007 10:59 AM