FEMINIST APPROACHES TO SCIENCE FICTION
English 367: Feminist Approaches to Science Fiction
As Veronica Hollinger observes, "feminist theory contests the hegemonic representations of a patriarchal culture that does not recognize its ‘others.' Like other critical discourses, it works to create a critical distance between observer and observed, to defamiliarize certain taken-for-granted aspects of ordinary human reality, ‘denaturalizing’ situations of historical inequity and/or oppression that otherwise may appear inevitable to us, if indeed we notice them at all. The concept of defamiliarization–of making strange–has also, of course, long been associated with [science fiction]" (The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction 129). This course examines the relationship between science fiction literature and feminist theories of gender, race, sexuality, and class. We will consider feminist critiques of imagined futures that reify contemporary inequities. However, science fiction works that denaturalize--and thus encourage us to critically analyze--social systems of power and notions of identity constitute our main focus.
English 367 satisfies the university's VLPA and DIV requirements.
Goals and Methodology
Students in the course work toward several goals:
*Analyzing the language, structure and themes of fictional texts, *Explicating the relationship between feminist science fiction and feminist theory, *Identifying the historical, cultural, and industrial contexts informing and informed by selected works of science fiction, and *Developing as critical thinkers who can formulate substantive arguments and explore those arguments with evidence.
Course activities promote active learning, with most class sessions incorporating a mix of mini-lectures, discussion, and group work. The course design—which includes frequent non-graded and graded writing—reflects the importance of writing as a means of learning. My role is to provide the tools and resources you will need to advance your own thinking. I will pose questions, design activities to help you think through these questions, and respond to your ideas. Your role is to do the hard work—the close reading, discussion, and writing. You will analyze texts, present your interpretations via class discussion and written assignments, and critically respond to others’ readings.