ENGL 349 A: Science Fiction And Fantasy

Meeting Time: 
TTh 10:30am - 12:20pm
CDH 135
Tom Foster
Tom Foster

Syllabus Description:

Schedule of readings:

All stories and essays not included in the books ordered for the class are available on the Canvas site for the course, in the form of pdf files.  Suggested readings are not required; I will not assume you have read the suggested materials, but will refer to them in class. They are included primarily for students who are especially interested in the topic of the day’s class.


Week 1.

January 3: Introduction to the course

January 5: Darko Suvin, chapters 1 and 4, Metamorphoses of Science Fiction             

                 Fredric Brown, “Preposterous”

                 Arthur C. Clarke, “Reunion”

Suggested: Samuel R. Delany, “About 5750 Words” 


Week 2. Pulp adventure: Speculative fiction, travel writing, and colonialism

January 10: Edgar Rice Burroughs, A Princess of Mars                       

                  Gwyneth Jones, “Metempsychosis of the Machine”

January 12: Burroughs, A Princess of Mars

                   John Rieder, chapter 1 from Colonialism and the Emergence of Science


                  Nalo Hopkinson, “Report from Planet Midnight,” in Hopkinson, Report

                                                                     from Planet Midnight

                  Robert Sheckley, “The Native Problem”


Week 3. Hard SF

January 17: David Hartwell, “Hard Science Fiction”

                   Hal Clement, “Proof”

                   Robert A. Heinlein, “Columbus Was a Dope”

                   Isaac Asimov, “Evidence”

                  Arthur C. Clarke, “The Sentinel”

January 19: Class cancelled


Week 4. 

January 24: Tom Godwin, “The Cold Equations”

                   James Blish, “Watershed”

                   Clifford Simak, “Desertion”


January 26: Alternate traditions: Literary SF (1950s)

                   Alfred Bester, The Demolished Man


 First papers due, Monday, January 30, by 5 p.m.


Week 5. 

January 31: Bester, The Demolished Man

February 2: New Wave SF (1960s and 70s)

                   Thomas Disch, Camp Concentration


Week 6.

February 7: Disch, Camp Concentration              

Suggested only: Ursula K. LeGuin, “The Direction of the Road”

February 9: Alternate traditions: Feminist SF

                   C.L. Moore, “No Woman Born”

                   Judith Merril, “That Only a Mother”

                   James M. Tiptree (Alice Sheldon), "The Women Men Don't See" and "The Girl Who Was Plugged In"

                   Sarah Lefanu, “Authority and Sentiment: Is There a Women’s Science Fiction?”

Suggested only: Joanna Russ, “When It Changed”


Week 7. Cyberpunk

February 14: William Gibson, Neuromancer

                     Bruce Sterling, “Preface” to Mirrorshades

Suggested only: Bruce Sterling, “Maneki Neko”

February 16: Gibson, Neuromancer


Week 8. Ethnicity, Race, Science Fiction, and Fantasy

February 21: Octavia Butler, Dawn

February 23: Butler, Dawn


Week 9:

February 28: Nisi Shawl, Filter House

                     Alondra Nelson, “Introduction: Future Texts” (on afrofuturism); available

                                                                                                                online at: http://socialtext.dukejournals.org.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/content/20/2_71/1

                     Eugie Foster, “Whatever Skin You Wear”

March 2: Shawl, Filter House

              Nalo Hopkinson, “Shift,” in Hopkinson, Report from Planet Midnight


Week 10:

March 7: Ted Chiang, from Stories of Your Life and Others

               Aliette de Bodard, “Immersion,” available online at


               Ken Liu, “Simulacrum,” available online at http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/simulacrum/

March 9: Chiang, from Stories of Your Life and Others


Final papers due, Wednesday, March 15, by 5 p.m.




Catalog Description: 
The study of the development of and specific debates in the related genres of fantasy and science fiction literatures
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
August 4, 2017 - 10:40pm