English | Science Fiction
L230 | 2194 | Huntsman


L230 2194 HUNTSMAN
Science Fiction

1:25p-2:15p MWF (30) 3 CR.

TOPIC: SPECULUM MUNDI—WOMEN’S SCIENCE FICTION AS A MODEL OF SOCIAL
CHANGE

Writers have always used contra-factual narratives to examine and
challenge the received truths of their societies.  Earlier these
narratives might have taken the form of allegory (The Fairy Queen or
Pilgrim's Progress) or satire (Gulliver's Travels); in our time the
major form is science fiction, or, as it is now better termed,
speculative fiction.  In this course we will read works by a variety
of women authors who, whatever their particular vision, use their
fiction as a mirror for our cultures and societies in order to test
or protest things as they are or might be.  Given the rapidity with
which mass-market tradebooks go in and out of print, the precise
reading list cannot be established at this time, but you will be
able to get the reading list from me by late spring.  In any case,
the reading list will draw from the works of writers such as Ursula
LeGuin, Vonda McIntire, Joanna Russ, Shirley Tepper, Margaret
Atwood, Suzette Haden Elgin, Joan Slonczewski, Joan Vinge, Kate
Wilhelm, Melissa Scott, Nancy Kress, and Olivia Butler, among
others.

You can expect to read about ten to twelve books (approximately one
per week). In general, the class will be in discussion format and
each of you will have the opportunity to lead the class in the
discussions.  A variety of viewpoints is anticipated and welcome;
there is no particular ideology (feminist or otherwise) that will be
encountered, let alone enforced, nor will there be any expectation
that any of you will have read speculative/science fiction before.
(In previous semesters the students ranged in the political spectrum
from self-described "anti-feminists" to virtual "separatists," and
the literary spectrum included senior English majors as well as
students who had completed only the basic freshman sequence of L141-
142.)  This diversity has always elicited lively--and therefore
rewarding--perspectives on the literature.  Regular attendance and
participation will naturally be expected.  In addition, you take two
or three examinations and will write two or three 4-5 page papers.
Because improvement in writing skills requires practice, you will be
encouraged to revise and resubmit your papers throughout the
semester.  Finally, if you have works by women in mind that you
think would fit the theme of the course and that you would like to
discuss in the class, please suggest titles by email
(HUNTSMAN@INDIANA.EDU) or by snail-mail (English, BH 442).