Instructor:  Jake Jakaitis Meeting Time:  12:00-3:20 M-F
Office:  RO A-110 Classroom:  Root Hall A 110
Office Hours:  11-12 Tu & Th, and by appointment E-mail Address:  jake.jakaitis@indstate.edu
Office Telephone:  812-237-3269 Home Page:  http://isu.indstate.edu/jakaitis





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 examine how early science fictions represent identity issues and social structures before investigating more complicated issues of cultural critique in contemporary science fiction.  Science Fiction as Social Criticism satisfies a Foundational Studies Program Upper-Division Integrative Elective requirement as well as the Popular Culture requirement for English liberal arts majors. 




Masri, Heather. Science Fiction: Stories and Contexts. ISBN 978-0-312-45015-1 (Be sure to get this edition; Masri also edits a shorter edition missing some of the stories.)








To provide an historical overview of the development of science fiction while emphasizing science fiction's tendency to enact cultural and political critique.

To connect the works studied to cultural and historical contexts through interpretive analysis and discussion of narrative structure, displacement, and the common themes and emphases of science fiction.

To develop and refine close reading and analytical skills through student interpretations of literary works communicated both through class discussions and in written assignments. 

To encourage critical sophistication and lifelong interest in literature by deepening students' awareness and understanding of the aesthetic and cultural dimensions of literary, artistic, and philosophical studies




Because this is a three week Foundational Studies and English Liberal Arts class, the reading and class preparation load will be rather intense at times, sometimes 80-100 pages for a single class period.  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 and on the final examination.  You are responsible for all of the assigned readings, even aspects of them not discussed in class. In this version of the course, I will incorporate film adaptations of some of the assigned readings, which will sometimes reduce the reading load for given class periods, but will also require you to attend class and be ready to respond in class with an analysis of a film adaptation.


1.  Attendance and Participation (20%)


 Attendance:  Full attendance is expected.  Because we will open most 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 2 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.

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 quiz short essays and on the final examination.  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.  A three week semester goes by rather quickly;  please see me immediately if you begin having difficulty with any of the course materials.

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/Daily Writing (40%)

Class meetings will often open with a quiz.  Sometimes, 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.  For some of the assigned material, I may ask you to write mini-essays of 250-300 words and to submit your typed comments immediately upon entering the classroom.  These mini-essays will ask you to establish connections among the assigned stories by discussing common themes and emphases, or they will be responses to specific questions about the stories that I will provide in the previous day's class meeting.  Of course, we will not have a quiz on those days when a mini-essay is due. How to Respond Effectively to Quiz Questions

3.   Final Examination (40%)

You will complete a final examination covering all assigned material in the course. The final will include both short answer and essay components and will be written during our final examination class meeting from 12:00 to 3:00 in Root Hall A 110.


Attendance/Participation (20%).............................................200 Points

Quizzes/Daily Writing (40%)..................................................400 Points

Final Examination Essay (40%)..............................................400 Points

                                                                                            1,000 Points

Final Grade Scale:  A+=950 points; 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 a 20 point daily writing assignment or quiz, you will earn 16 points, or 80% of the total available points. 

**** 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.


ENGLISH 335:  SCIENCE FICTION AS SOCIAL CRITICISM                                                                  SUMMER I 2008 [3 WEEK]  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 often, as additional supporting materials [study questions,  background information on the authors and assigned readings, etc...] will regularly be added to the site.  All page numbers refer to assignments in Science Fiction: Stories and Contextsunless otherwise indicated.



                                                                                WEEK ONE


Scoring Charts for Quizzes: 4 Point Chart   40 Point Chart  7 Point Chart

5-16  [M]        Discuss course policies and syllabus; introduce science fiction genre definitions and expectations. Cover Art.


5-17 [Tu]        "A Martian Odyssey" [1934] by Stanley Weinbaum: 32-52.  Alternative Bio. SQ

                       "Arena" [1944] by Fredric Brown: 52-73. SQ  F. Brown Paperback Covers 

                       "Mars is Heaven!" [1948] by Ray Bradbury: 73-87. SQ

                        Read these Notes on Romance Mode and relate Romance Mode to "A Martian Odyssey," "Arena," and "Mars is Heaven!"


5-18 [W]        "Vaster Than Empires and More Slow" [1971] by Ursula K. Le Guin: 96-119.  SQ

                       "Slow Life" [2002] by Michael Swanwick: 161-179. SQ

                               "Bloodchild" [1984] by Octavia Butler: 119-134. SQ Alternative Bio


5-19 [Th]        " The Gostak and the Doshes" [1930] by Miles J. Breuer: 503-517. SQ

                       "Twilight" [1934] by John W. Campbell Jr.: 1052-1068. SQ

                       "Vintage Season" [1946] by C.L. Moore: 517-551. SQ Longer Bio


5-20  [F]             "All You Zombies" [1959] by Robert Heinlein: 551-561. SQ The Heinlein Society.

                                "The Story of Your Life" [1998] by Ted Chiang: 614-651. Interview.

                        " Start the Clock" by Benjamin Rosenbaum: 651-663.   Rosenbaum on Translating His Story     Free Stories.                              


5-23  [M]        "The Uncany" [1919] by Sigmund Freud: 427-442.

                        "The Sandman" [1816] byE.T.A. Hoffmann: 195-220.   SQ for Freud and Hoffmann

                        "R.U.R. [1921] by Karel Capek: 231-281.   SQ Watch Forbidden Planet.  Buy Robbie


5-24 [Tu]        "Helen O'Loy" [1938] PDF by Lester Del Rey [Handout: 42-52] SQ    Finish Forbidden Planet. The Story of Robbie the Robot

                        "Liar!" [1941] by Isaac Asimov: 282-295.   SQ

                        "The Algorithms for Love" [2004] by Ken Liu: 414-427. SQ     Begin Blade Runner [1985].                


5-25 [W]        "Second Variety" [1953] by Philip K. Dick: 296-331. SQ 

                       "Burning Chrome" by William Gibson: 371-386.   SQ

                        Film: Finish Blade Runner.                              


5-26 [Th]        "Rappaccini's Daughter" [1844] by Nathaniel Hawthorne: 1029-1051.   SQ

                        "Mimsy Were the Borogoves" [1943 by Lewis Padgett: 1084-1110.  SQ   Jabberwocky

                       Film: Begin Mimsy Were the Borogoves.


5-27 [F]          "Flowers for Algernon" [1959] by Danilel Keyes: 1110-1132.

                        "Blood Music" [1983] by Greg Bear: 1175-1194.

                                                                              WEEK THREE


5-30  [M]                                                         MEMORIAL DAY:  NO CLASSES


5-31 [Tu]       "Adam and No Eve" [1941] by Alfred Bester: 905-915.  SQ

                        "The Nine Billion Names of God" [1953] by Arthur C. Clarke: 915-921.  SQ

                        "The Terminal Beach" [1964] by J.G. Ballard: 921-937.  SQ

                        "Recording Angel" [1996] by Ian McDonald: 958-969.   SQ


 6-1 [W]          "The Weapon Shop" [1942] by A.E. Van Vogt: 716-748.   SQ

                        "The Country of the Kind" [1955] by Damon Knight: 748-758.  SQ


6-2 [Th]           "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman" [1965] by Harlan Ellison: 758-768.  SQ

                         "When It Changed" [1972] by Joanna Russ: 768-774.   SQ

                         "The Persistence of Vison" by John Varley [1978]: 774-811.   SQ


6-3 [F]           FINAL EXAMINATION.