ENGL 349 A: Science Fiction and Fantasy

Meeting Time: 
TTh 10:30am - 12:20pm
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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, or available online at the links given in the schedule below.  Any title listed below that is not one of the six books I ordered or that does not have a link attached can be found on the “Files” page of the Canvas site, where the pdf files are listed alphabetically under the author’s last name (for example, Arthur C. Clarke’s story “Reunion” is listed under the file name “Clarke.reunion.pdf”).    


Important: Some of the readings below are labeled as “suggested only.”  Suggested readings are not required; I will not assume you have read the suggested materials.  I am likely to refer to them in class, but they are included primarily for students who are especially interested in the topic of the day’s class.


Week 1.

January 5: Introduction to the course


January 7: Theorizing the genre

                   Darko Suvin, chapters 1 and 4, Metamorphoses of Science Fiction              

                   Fredric Brown, “Preposterous”

                   Arthur C. Clarke, “Reunion”

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



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

January 12: Edgar Rice Burroughs, A Princess of Mars                       

                     Gwyneth Jones, “Metempsychosis of the Machine”


January 14: Burroughs, A Princess of Mars

                     Robert Sheckley, “The Native Problem”

Suggested only: John Rieder, chapter 1 from Colonialism and the Emergence of Science Fiction

 Suggested only: Nalo Hopkinson, “Report from Planet Midnight,” in Hopkinson, Report from Planet Midnight       

Suggested only: Ray Bradbury, “Way Up in the Middle of the Air”



Week 3. Hard SF (starting in the 1940s)

January 19: David Hartwell, “Hard Science Fiction”

                    Hal Clement, “Proof”

                    Robert A. Heinlein, “Columbus Was a Dope”

                    Isaac Asimov, “Evidence”

                    Arthur C. Clarke, “The Sentinel”


January 21: Tom Godwin, “The Cold Equations”

                     James Blish, “Watershed”

                     Clifford Simak, “Desertion” 



Week 4. Alternate traditions: Literary SF (1950s)

January 26: Theodore Sturgeon, More Than Human


January 28: Sturgeon, More Than Human       



Week 5. New Wave SF (1960s and 70s)

February 2: Ursula K. LeGuin, The Lathe of Heaven


February 4: LeGuin, The Lathe of Heaven

Suggested only: Ursula K. LeGuin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”



First papers due by Friday, February 5,  by 5 p.m.; email to tfoster@uw.edu



Week 6. Alternate traditions: Feminist SF

February 9: Sarah Lefanu, “Authority and Sentiment: Is There a Women’s Science Fiction?”

                     C.L. Moore, “No Woman Born”

                     Judith Merril, “That Only a Mother”    

                     Joanna Russ, “When It Changed”



February 11: James M. Tiptree, Jr. (Alice Sheldon), “The Women Men Don’t See”

                       Octavia Butler, “Amnesty”

                       Sofia Samatar, “The Red Thread”



Week 7. Cyberpunk (1980s and 90s)

February 16: Bruce Sterling, “Preface” to Mirrorshades              

                      William Gibson, Neuromancer

Suggested only: James M. Tiptree (Alice Sheldon), “The Girl Who Was Plugged In”


February 18: Gibson, Neuromancer

Suggested only: Bruce Sterling, “Maneki Neko”                     

Suggested only: Eugie Foster, “Whatever Skin You Wear”



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

February 23: Ted Chiang, Stories of Your Life and Others


February 25: Chiang, Stories of Your Life and Others

Suggested only: Ken Liu, “Ghost Days,” available online at


Suggested only: Aliette de Bodard, “Immersion,” available online at




Week 9:

March 2: Nisi Shawl, Everfair


March 4: Shawl, Everfair

Suggested only: Alondra Nelson, “Introduction: Future Texts” (on afrofuturism);                                               available online at: http://socialtext.dukejournals.org.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/content/20/2_71/1



Week 10:

March 9: Shawl, Everfair


March 11: Shawl, Everfair



Final papers due, Wednesday, March 17, by 5 p.m., by email to tfoster@uw.edu


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: 
October 13, 2020 - 4:40am