English | Projects In Reading & Writing: Richly Informative or Infinitely Empty?
W170 | 13973 | Lewis


<b>PROJECTS IN READING & WRITING<p>TOPIC: Richly Informative or
Infinitely Empty? Representing Outer Space from Earth<p>INSTRUCTOR:
M. Lewis<p>13973     TR     4:00pm-5:15pm     SY 103<p></b>Over the
centuries—from Copernicus to H.G. Wells, Neil Armstrong to Stephen
Hawking—the way humans have pictured the universe has changed
significantly. Along the way, the arrangement and movement of
celestial bodies and the nature of the space they inhabit have
provided fodder for scientific research, religious prophecy, and
philosophical inquiry. Depicted as both positive and negative—as
the “final frontier” and the “great abyss”—space has been used as a
symbol for a variety of ideals and fears. Briefly retracing
historical representations of the universe, but focusing on
depictions of space from the 20th and 21st centuries, this course
will investigate the ways in which the concept of space is used to
convey a wide range of unique, sometimes even opposing ideas.
Through an analysis of essays, paintings, articles, short stories,
cartoons, and films (such as <i>2001, Close Encounters of the Third
Kind,</i> and <i>Serenity</i>) we will interpret how texts
differently depict the universe, why given depictions arise, and how
these diverse representations of what is beyond Earth differently
affect what occurs on Earth. Does space represent an escape from
responsibility or a potential solution to Earthly problems, such as
overpopulation? How do various depictions of space shape how we
think of our personal, social, or human identity? Are certain kinds
of humans, based on race, sex, gender, ideology, or nationality,
excluded from both fictional and real accounts of space? As we
review representations of space, we will be practicing our ability
to read and write analytically, focusing not on finally determining
how space ought to be read, but how texts represent the universe,
how those representations affect one another, and how we—in our own
texts—can comment on those versions in fair, complex, and compelling
ways.