ENGLISH 335:  SCIENCE FICTION AS SOCIAL CRITICISM                                                              SPRING 2011  POLICY STATEMENT

 

 

Instructor:  Jake Jakaitis Meeting Time:  12:30 to 1:45 Tu Th
Office:  RO A-209 Classroom:  Stalker Hall 301
Office Hours:  2-4 M,  4-5 Tu & by appointment E-mail Address:  jake.jakaitis@indstate.edu
Office Telephone:  812-237-3269 Home Page:  http://isu.indstate.edu/jakaitis

 

 

Week 1; Week 2; Week 3; Week 4; Week 5: Week 6; Week 7; Week 8; Week 9; Week 10; Week 11; Week 12; Week 13; Week 14; Week 15; Week 16; Week 17.

 

 

 


 

COURSE DESCRIPTION:

 

English 335:  Science Fiction as Social Criticism investigates the genre's historical tendency to question the relation of individuals to the social and political structures that shape their identities and govern their lives, thereby enacting political and social criticism.  It is not a chronological or historical survey. Instead, we will examine science fictional addresses to technology and progress, conquest and colonization, and the role of the individual in society.  Following Ursula K. Le Guin's belief that a well-written science fiction is never really predictive, but is always about the author's present, always a displacement of a concern relevant to the here and the now, our goal will be to expose complex relations among popular texts and social, economic, and political forces in culture, to effect a cultural critique.  To ease our way into this process of complex critical analysis, we will begin with genre definition, then examines how 1940s and 1950s science fictions represent identity issues and social structures before investigating more complicated issues of cultural critique in contemporary s ience fiction.  Science Fiction as Social Criticism satisfies the General Education 2000 Program's Literature and Life requirement and has received preliminary approval as an Upper-Division Integrative Electivein the Foundational Studies Program. 


 

REQUIRED TEXTS:

 

(Years in parentheses indicate dates of original publication.)

 

Asimov, Isaac. Caves of Steel. (1953) Bantam, 1991. ISBN 0-533-29340-0

Dick, Philip K  Blade Runner (1968) Del Rey, 1987.  ISBN 0-345-35047-2.

Heinlein, Robert. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. (1966) Orb Books, 1997. ISBN:  0-312-86355-1.

Steele, Allen.  Coyote:  A Novel of Interstellar Exploration. (Serialized in Asimov's 2001-02) Ace SF, 2003.  ISBN 0-441-01116-0.

 

            Wells, H.G.  The Island of Dr. Moreau. (1896) Dover Thrift 0-486-29027-1.

            Wells, H.G. The Time Machine (1895) Dover Thrift Edition. ISBN 0-486-28472-7 ]. 

            Professor’s Pack [Available at Goetz Printing, 16 South 9th Street. Telephone:  232-6504].

 

DO NOT CALL GOETZ UNTIL I ANNOUNCE THAT THE PROF PACK IS READY.


 

COURSE OBJECTIVES:


 

COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND POLICIES

 

Because this is a general education class, the reading and class preparation load will be rather intense at times.  While at times we will be reading only a single short work [story or novella] for a single class meeting, in some units we will be covering a complete novel of 300 or more pages in three or four class meetings.  You will be expected to read carefully, take notes, and come to class prepared to take an objective test or to write short answer and essay responses to quiz questions about the assigned work.  Study questions to focus your reading will appear as links in the on-line syllabus in advance of the due dates for the assigned readings. It is your responsibility to check our web syllabus regularly, for I will often withhold posting of study questions for later assignments or revise previously posted study questions so that I can tailor the questions to address issues and concerns raised in class discussions of the previous works.  The study questions and quizzes will sustain the expectation that you have carefully read and thought about the assigned readings and that you are prepared to participate in meaningful discussion and interpretive analysis of the assigned literary works.  Familiarity with the literature will, of course, prepare you for interpretive analysis and discussion on quizzes, in the mid-term examination, in assigned papers, and on the final examination.  You are responsible for all of the assigned readings, even aspects of them not discussed in class

 

1.  Attendance and Participation (10%)

 

 Attendance:  Full attendance is expected.  Because we will open some class sessions with a quiz, punctuality is crucial to your success.  If you arrive late, it will be impossible to give you additional time to complete the assignment and, since the class discussion following each quiz will rely on students' responses to the quizzes, completing the work after class is not an acceptable option.  If you accumulate 6 unexcused absences, you will fail this course.  Of course, all absences, excused or unexcused, affect your grade because each absence reduces your quiz and participation score.  If you have an excused absence for medical or other University approved reasons, it is your responsibility to make up missed work by appointment with me before the next class meeting. Attendance will count 5% of the course grade.

Participation:  Much of our time will be spent discussing the assigned readings.  Exemplary performance in these activities will demonstrate that you are effectively preparing and thinking about the material and will significantly increase your attendance/participation score.  After each class meeting, I will assign participation points to students who actively comment on the readings and promote meaningful discussion related to the specified goals of the course. At semester's end, students will receive a letter grade for participation based on my estimation of their cumulative performance. It is in your best interest to take notes and come to class prepared to ask questions or provoke discussion.  These practices will also prepare you to perform well on the short essays and examinations.  Conferences are not required but are encouraged. If you wish to meet with me but cannot attend my office hours, please arrange a conference with me at a more convenient time. If you do intend to meet with me during one of my office hours, it is best that you let me know in advance so that I can reserve the time for you. A semester goes by rather quickly;  please see me immediately if you begin having difficulty with any of the course materials. Participation will count for 5% of your course grade.

Professional Courtesy:  You will be expected to behave professionally in this college classroom.  Turn off cell phones before entering the room.  From the moment that you enter the classroom, you should be focused on the materials and assignments in this course.  Reading of newspapers or other material not directly related to work in ENG 335 will not be allowed in the classroom--neither before class has started nor during our formal class session.   If you are interested in reading newspapers or other materials unrelated to this course as you wait for class to begin, do so outside the classroom. Students who behave rudely, or who have to be asked to put down newspapers or other reading materials will lose participation points.  Under extreme circumstances, such students will be removed from the classroom or dropped from this course.  Laptops may be used for note-taking and for review of course materials posted in our on-line syllabus or for searches during class to support our discussions.  However, this privilege will be revoked for anyone using a laptop for e-mail, instant messaging, or any purpose not directly related to the ongoing class discussion.  If laptop use appears to become a problem, I reserve the right to demand that an individual immediately turn the display toward me for inspection.  Any student viewing material irrelevant to this course will be removed from the class.

2.   2.   Quizzes (20%)

Class meetings will often open with a quiz.  These short examinations will require short essay responses that analyze and interpret assigned readings.  These responses must begin with topic sentences that directly answer the question and then supply specific story details to support the topic.  [See the "How to Respond Effectively to Quiz Questions" link below.]  Simply quickly reading the assigned stories will not prepare you to score well on these quizzes.  Instead, you must actively consider study questions, literary techniques, plot structures and conflicts, thematic concerns, or the relation of the assigned reading to material presented in lectures and discussions of previously assigned works.  How to Respond Effectively to Quiz Questions

 3.   Essay (20%)

You will write an extended analysis (4-5 typewritten pages:  1,200 to 1,600 words) of one of the novels covered in the course prior to the thirteenth week of classes: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Caves of Steel, or Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep [Blade Runner].  The essay will be an analysis of the novel supported by library research and will be worth 20% of the course grade. The broad assignment covering all three novels will be posted on our web syllabus and discussed in class as we begin The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Your options will be clarified as we discuss each additional novel. Essays will conform to MLA documentation style, will be submitted by e-mail attachment, and will be returned in the same manner. The due dates and more specific instructions for documentation procedures and essay submission will appear in the assignment.

4.  Mid-Term Examination (25%)

During week eight, you will write a mid-term examination including short answer questions about concepts, terms, and assigned works discussed in class and an extended response to an essay question.  This examination will cover the readings as well as the broad issues in science fiction discussed over the first seven weeks of the semester. The short answer component will include a matching section asking you to link quotations from stories to the appropriate story titles. Regular attendance and note-taking are crucial to your success on this portion of the examination.

 5.   Final Examination (25%)

You will complete a final examination covering material assigned from week eight through the end of the semester.  Like the mid-term, the final will include both short answer and essay components.  The final will be written during our final examination class meeting at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, May 3, in SH 301.

6.  Extra Credit.

I award extra credit points for written discussions and analyses that you submit after attending any event on or off campus that addresses issues in science fiction. Extra credit opportunities will be announced over the course of the semester; some of these will involve reading additional stories or novels or discussing a film adaptation of a work of science fiction.  Over the course of the semester, you may earn a total of up to 50 extra credit points for attending events or doing additional reading and film watching, and writing 2 to 3 page, double-spaced, typed analyses that directly relate your experience to science fiction themes and issues raised in this course.  Typically, each extra credit submission can earn a maximum of 10 points.  Occasionally, however, a longer assignment will be designated as offering up to 20 points.  Submissions will be evaluated and partial credit will be awarded based on the quality of the work.  I will announce upcoming events in class and I invite all of you to do the same.  Extra credit will be available only for events approved in advance by me.  No extra credit assignments will be accepted in the final two weeks of classes--except for the text evaluation assignment--and I will accept no more than one extra credit submission from any student in any given week of the semester. Extra Credit Announcements.


GRADING:

Attendance/Participation [10%]
100 Points
Quizzes [20%]
200 Points
Essay [20%]
200 Points
Mid-Term [25%]
250 Points
Final Examination [25%]
250 Points
Total [100%]
1,000 Points

Final Grade Scale:  A=920 points; A-=900 points; B+=850 points; B=820 points; B-=800 points; C+=750 points; C=720 points; C-=700 points; D+=650 points; D=620 points; D-=600 points; F= less than 600 points.  The same percentage scale applies to each assignment.  For example, if you earn a B on the essay, I will assign you somewhere between 82% and 84% of the available points depending on my evaluation of your paper.  The letter grade and specific point score will be noted in my final comments on the paper.

**** Retain all graded assignments until you receive your final grade.  You will have little chance for grade review unless you are able to re-submit your graded work.

 

Additional Information: For information about the General Education--Foundational Studies Program--specifically the "Sycamore Standard," academic freedom, and the rights and responsibilities of students with disabilities--consult the General Education-Foundational Studies website (http://www.indstate.edu/gened/newfoundationalstudies program.htm)

 


 

      ENGLISH 335:  SCIENCE FICTION AS SOCIAL CRITICISM                                                                                                                                            SPRING 2011 SYLLABUS

 

This is a tentative syllabus.  It is your responsibility to attend regularly, to be prepared for quizzes on the readings, and to adjust to changes in the reading or assignment schedule.  Any changes will be posted in the syllabus available at my web site:  http://isu.indstate.edu/jakaitis/.  Please check the web site regularly, as additional supporting materials [study questions, background information on the authors and assigned readings, etc...] will regularly be added to the site. The abbreviation PP means that the assigned reading appears in the professor's pack.

 

DATE      ASSIGNMENT


                                                                                WEEK ONE:  Course Introduction

 

1-11 [Tu]        Discuss course policies and syllabus; introduce science fiction genre definitions and expectations. Cover Art.

 

1-13 [Th]        Continue course introduction and prepare for first assigned reading:  The Time Machine  by H.G. Wells.

                       Read William Gibson on The Time Machine. Here's another time travel essay, a review of Michael Swanick's Bones of the Earth.

                       Notes on Cosmic and Ethical Evolution

 


 WEEK TWO:  Scientific Romances--Playing with Time

 

1-18 [Tu]       The Time Machine [1895] by H. G. Wells. Read this short novel for free by clicking on the MS Word or PDF versions below. SQ  

                      The Time MachineMS Word Version; PDF version.                    

1-20 [Th]       "Twilight" [1934] by John W. Campbell [PP:  24-41].  Campbell & Astounding   SQ

1-23 [SUNDAY]    Last day to Drop Classes with No Grade


                                                                              WEEK THREE:  Playing with Time/Scientists Playing God

 

1-25 [Tu]        "Time Shards"[1979] by Gregory Benford [PP: 96-106] SQ & "All You Zombies"[1959] by Robert Heinlein [PP: 203-219]. SQ

1-27 [Th]        Begin The Island of Dr. Moreau [1896]: Chapters 1 through 14, pages 1-59. SQGericault's Raft of the Medusa     


WEEK FOUR:  First Contact Cont./Scientists Playing God

 

2-01 [Tu]        Finish The Island of Dr. Moreau: Chapters 15-22, pages 60-104.

 

2-03 [Th]        "Microcosmic God" [1941] by Theodore Sturgeon [PP:  88-113].  Sturgeon Literary TrustSQ                                         

                       "Act of God" [2004] by Jack McDevitt [PP:  253-264]. SQ

                        Three Week Attendance Report Due.                                                             


WEEK FIVEScience and Religion in SF

 

2-08 [Tu]        "The Quest for St. Aquin" [1951] by Anthony Boucher [PP:  378-393]. SQ

                   

2-10 [Th]        "The Nine Billion Names of God" [1953] by Arthur C. Clarke [PP: 426-432].  Clarke's Quotations.

                       "First Commandment" [2004] by Gregory Benford [PP:  53-68]. SQ  ESSAY ASSIGNMENT

      


WEEK SIX: Heinlein, Revolution, and AI Sentience

2-15 [Tu]         Begin The Moon is a Harsh Mistress [1966] by Robert Heinlein; Book One: "That Dinkum Thinkum," chapters 1-8, pages 11-106. SQ

2-17 [Th]         Continue The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Book One: "That Dinkum Thinkum," Chapters 9-13, pages 107-184.                    


WEEK SEVEN:  Heinlein Continued

 

2-22 [Tu]         Continue The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Book Two: "A Rabble in Arms," pages 187-304.

2-24 [Th]         Continue The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Book Three: "TANSTAAFL," pages 307-382.                                                          


WEEK EIGHT:  MID-TERM EXAMINATION

 

3-01 [Tu]         "Helen O'Loy" [1938] by Lester Del Rey[PP:  42-52]. &   SQ

                        MID-TERM EXAMINATION REVIEW

                       

3-03 [Th]         Assigned Stories MS Word   MID-TERM EXAMINATION


WEEK NINE: SPRING BREAK MARCH 7-11

 


WEEK TENBLURRED GENRES: SF, MYSTERY, & DETECTION

 

3-15 [Tu]        Caves of Steel [1953] by Isaac Asimov. Chapters One through Six: 1-81. SQ  Asimov Foundation Novels Site.

3-17 [Th]        Continue Caves of Steel, Chapters Seven through Twelve: 82-175. Caves of SteelPaper Advice


WEEK ELEVEN:  Simulated Humanity

 

3-22   [Tu]       Finish Caves of Steel, Chapters Thirteen Through Eighteen, pages 176-270.  Check out this history of science fiction; click on any area to enlarge the image.

                        Mid-Term Grades Due

                             

3-24   [Th]       "Second Variety" [ by Philip K. Dick [PP:  17-62].

                        Introduction to Blade Runner by Philip K. DickStudy Questions.  Edvard Munch's Puberty & The Scream

            

3-27 [SUNDAY]    LAST DAY TO DROP CLASSES:  NO EXCEPTIONS


WEEK TWELVE:  Simulated Humanity

 

3-29   [Tu]        Blade Runner:  Chapters 1-12, pages 1-142.                      

  

3-31   [Th]        Blade Runner:  Chapters 13-22, pages 143-242.

       


WEEK THIRTEEN:  The Post-Human

 

4-05    [Tu]        "Burning Day" [2004] by Glenn Grant [PP: 69-110].   SQ

                       

4-07    [Th]        "I Robot" [2005] by Cory Doctorow [PP: 448-493].

       


WEEK FOURTEEN:  Political Space Opera

 

4-12    [Tu]      Coyote:  A Novel of Interstellar Exploration [Serialized Jan. 2001-Dec. 2002; First Novel Publication 2002] by Allen Steele 

                        Introduction [1-5] and Parts One ["Stealing Alabama" 11-89] & Two [ "The Days Betweeen"91 -125]  Some Discussion Questions

4-14  [Th]        Coyote:  A Novel of Interstellar Exploration: Parts Three ["Coming to Coyote" 127-201] & Four ["Liberty Journals" 205-233].                       


WEEK FIFTEEN:  The Political Space Opera

 

4-19  [Tu]       Coyote:  A Novel of Interstellar Exploration: Parts Five ["The Boid Hunt" 241-258] & Six ["Across the Eastern Divide" 261-329].  SQ for Book Two                 

 

4-21  [Th]       Coyote:  A Novel of Interstellar Exploration:  Parts Seven ["Lonesome and a Long Way from Home" 333-363] & Eight ["Glorious Destiny" 367-431]. 

                                                        


STUDY WEEK:  Re-Defining the Alien Encounter

 

4-29  [Tu]       "The Art of War" [2007] by Nancy Kress [PP: 234-254 ]SQ

                       

 

4-28  [Th]       "Personal Jesus" [2007] by Paul Di Filippo [PP:  115-130].

                       FINAL EXAMINATION REVIEW


WEEK SEVENTEEN

 

FINAL EXAMINATIONS:  May 2 to May 6     

 

[Our examination is on Tuesday, May 3,  at 1:00 in SH 301.]