DePauw University
HONR 101: Honor Scholar Seminar

Science Fiction

Dr. Arthur B. Evans
EC 204,
home page:

(site last updated: 12 July 10)


Syllabus (sample)

HONR 101C - Honor Scholar Seminar
Dr. Arthur B. Evans, EC 204,
Fall 2010 - TTh 2:20-3:50 EC 019


class texts and materials:
Evans, ed., The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction (WA)
Roberts, ed., The Prentice-Hall Anthology of Science Fiction and Fantasy (PH)
Jules Verne, Journey to the Center of the Earth (Oxford World’s Classics)
online readings (*) - links available via Moodle
Moodle site:

In our Western society, the natural sciences and the humanities have often been viewed as “Two Cultures,” as C.P. Snow once expressed it. And with today's ongoing specialization and fragmentation of knowledge, the gulf between them seems to be growing ever wider. This course will examine a fictional genre that purposefully bridges these two world views: science fiction. As a genre that routinely features extrapolation, speculation, and “thought experiments” of various kinds, science fiction has a long tradition of raising fundamental questions about how we define ourselves, our reality, and our possible futures. Through a selection of readings from pre-Jules Verne to post-Cyberpunk, in this course we will focus on a variety of recurring philosophical and social themes--technology and human values, gender and identity, alienation and the “other,” cybernetics and artificial intelligence, etc. We will examine how these important issues reflect certain evolutionary currents in today's world and how they will probably shape the world of tomorrow.


Thurs. 8/26
- intro to course, syllabus, Moodle, course requirements, etc.
- genre theory: speculative fiction (horror, fantasy, science fiction)
- Moodle readings: What is Speculative Fiction?; Definitions & History; Why Read and Study SF?
- (WA) “Introduction”
- mandatory reflection paper (due next Thurs.) on C.P. Snow, “The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution” (1959) in Moodle at:

Tues. 8/31
(*) Edgar Allan Poe, “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” (1845)
(PH) H.P. Lovecraft, “The Colour Out of Space” (1927)
(PH) Shirley Jackson, “The Lottery” (1948)
(PH) Stephen King, “The Raft” (1982)
reflection paper (dues next Tues.) on Joyce Carol Oates, “Reflections on the Grotesque” at

Thurs. 9/2
(PH) George MacDonald, “The Gray Wolf” (1871)
(PH) Robert E. Howard, “The Tower of the Elephant” (1933)
(PH) J.R.R. Tolkien, “Riddles in the Dark” (excerpt from The Hobbit, 1937)
oral exposé on horror and/or fantasy: ___________________
reflection paper (due next Thurs.) on George MacDonald, "The Fantastic Imagination" (1864) at

Tues. 9/7
(*) Jonathan Swift, excerpt from Gulliver's Travels (1726)
(*) Edward Bellamy, excerpt from Looking Backward (1888)
(*) Jules Verne, “In the 29th Century” (1889)
(WA) E.M. Forster, “The Machine Stops” (1909)
reflection paper (due next Tues.) on Nanelle and David Barash, “Biology, Culture, and Persistent Literary Dystopias” at

Thurs. 9/9
(PH) Robert Sheckley, “The Store of the Worlds” (1959)
(WA) Harlan Ellison, “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman” (1965)
(PH) Dean Koontz, “The Undercity” (1973)
oral exposé on utopias and/or dystopias: _______________

Tues. 9/14
(WA) Clifford D. Simak, “Desertion” (1944)
(PH) Robert A. Heinlein, “The Long Watch” (1949)
(WA) Cordwainer Smith, “The Game of Rat and Dragon” (1955)
(WA) Frank Herbert, “Seed Stock” (1970)

Thurs. 9/16
oral exposé on ecological science fiction: _________________
exam #1

Tues. 9/21
(WA) Philip K. Dick, “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” (1966)
(PH) Orson Scott Card, “Ender's Game” (1977)
(WA) William Gibson, “Burning Chrome” (1982)
(WA) Eileen Gunn, “Computer Friendly” (1989)
reflection paper (due next Thurs.) on James John Bell, “Exploring the Singularity” at

Thurs. 9/23
(PH) Marion Zimmer Bradley, “Exiles of Tomorrow” (1955)
(WA) Robert A. Heinlein, “‘All You Zombies...’” (1960)
(WA) Kate Wilhelm, “Forever Yours, Anna”
oral exposé on computers or time travel: _________________
reflection paper (due next Thurs.) on Clifford Pickover, “Traveling Through Time” at and

Tues. 9/28
web project check: initial thoughts ( at least 3 ideas)
(PH) E.E. “Doc” Smith, “Robot Nemesis” (1934)
(PH) Isaac Asimov, “Robbie” (1940)
(WA) Isaac Asimov, “Reason” (1941)
(WA) Alfred Bester, “Fondly Fahrenheit” (1954)
reflection paper (due next Tues.) on Charles Platt, “What’s It Mean to Be Human, Anyway?” at

Thurs. 9/30
(PH) Eric Frank Russell, “Jay Score” (1941)
(WA) Brian Aldiss, “Super-Toys Last All Summer Long” (1969)
(WA) Ursula K. Le Guin, “Nine Lives” (1969)
oral exposé on robots and/or artificial intelligence: _______________
reflection paper (due next Thurs.) on Steve Mizrach, The Ethics of the Cyborg: “Should there be a limit placed on the integration of humans and computers and electronic technology?” at

Tues. 10/5
web project check: final proposal
(*) Cyrano de Bergerac, excerpt from The Other World: States and Empires of the Moon (1657)
(*) H.G. Wells, excerpt from The War of the Worlds (1898)
(WA) C.L. Moore, “Shambleau” (1933)
(WA) Stanley Weinbaum, “A Martian Odyssey” (1934)
reflection paper (due next Tues.) on Brian Aldiss, “Desperately Seeking Aliens” at:

Thurs. 10/7
(PH) Fredric Brown, “Arena” (1944)
(PH) Damon Knight, “To Serve Man” (1950)
(WA) Arthur C. Clarke, “The Sentinel” (1951)
oral exposé on aliens (1): _________________

Tues. 10/12
(WA) Robert Sheckley, “The Specialist” (1953)
(WA) Robert Silverberg, “Passengers” (1968)
(WA) Nancy Kress, “Out of All Them Bright Stars” (1986)
(WA) Ted Chiang, “Exhalation” (2009)

Thurs. 10/14
oral exposé on aliens (2): ____________________
exam #2


Tues. 10/26
Jules Verne, Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864)
oral exposé on Verne: ____________________
reflection paper (due next Tues.) on Bruce Sterling’s “Midnight on the Rue
Jules Verne”:
(originally published in Science Fiction Eye 1 [Winter 1987]: 62-64).

Thurs. 10/28
film: Journey to the Center of the Earth (1956)
reflection paper (due next Thurs.) on Mark Rose, “Filling the Void: Verne, Wells, and Lem” (excerpt) in Moodle at:

Tues. 11/2
(WA) H.G. Wells, “The Star” (1897)
(WA) Theodore Sturgeon, “Thunder and Roses” (1947)
(WA) Judith Merril, “That Only a Mother” (1948)
(WA) Ray Bradbury, “There Will Come Soft Rains” (1950)
reflection paper (due next Tues.) on PBS “Frontline: Apocalypse!” at: and

Thurs. 11/4
web project check: resources and materials
(WA) Fritz Leiber, “Coming Attraction” (1950)
(PH) James Tiptree, Jr. “The Last Flight of Dr. Ain” (1969)
(WA) Octavia E. Butler, “Speech Sounds”(1983)
oral exposé on “TEOTWAWKI”: ___________________
reflection paper (due next Thurs.) on Francis Fukuyama, Our Posthuman Future (excerpts) at

Tues. 11/9
(WA) Leslie F. Stone, “The Conquest of Gola” (1931)
(WA) Frederik Pohl, “Day Million” (1966)
(WA) Samuel R. Delany, “Aye, and Gomorrah...” (1967)
(WA) Joanna Russ, “When It Changed” (1972)

Thurs. 11/11
(WA) James Tiptree, Jr., “I Awoke and Found Me Here On the Cold Hill’s Side”(1973)
(PH) Octavia E. Butler, “Bloodchild” (1984)
(WA) Greg Egan, “Closer” (1992)
oral exposé on gender and sexuality and sf: ___________________
reflection paper (due next Thurs.) on “You Are Cyborg” - a conversation with Donna Haraway about cyberfeminism at: (skip "The Cyborg Ancestry" section at the end)

Tues. 11/15
oral exposé on women sf writers: ___________________
exam #3

Thurs. 11/18
(WA) Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Rappaccini's Daughter” (1844)
(WA) Edmond Hamilton, “The Man Who Evolved” (1931)
(PH) Larry Niven, “The Jigsaw Man” (1967)
web project: present rough draft of content (homepage and other screens of your site, identify text and graphics, etc.)

Tues. 11/22
(*) Voltaire, “Micromegas” (1752)
(WA) William Tenn, "The Liberation of Earth" (1953)
(PH) Kurt Vonnegut, “Harrison Bergeron” (1961)
(WA) Bruce Sterling, “We See Things Differently” (1989)
oral exposé on biotech or social satire: ____________________
reflection paper (due next Tues.) on Horace Miner, “Body Ritual among the Nacirema” at:


Tues. 11/30
submit final version of websites
origins (2 pages) - and
brief history of -
class visit to the DePauw Archives - Roy O. West Library - the R.D. Mullen Pulp Magazine Collection

Thurs. 12/2
oral exposé on television sf: ____________________
oral exposé on gaming and sf: ____________________
begin review of student websites

Tues. 12/7
review of student websites

Thurs. 12/9
last day of class


“Regular attendance at class, laboratory, and other appointments for which credit is given is expected of all students according to guidelines established by individual instructors. There are no “allowed cuts” or “free” absences from class sessions. Faculty may drop students from their classes or other appropriate action may be taken if absences are too frequent.” DePauw University Bulletin
INSTRUCTOR'S GUIDELINES: For excused medical absences and/or for participation in athletic events or other university-sponsored activities, the instructor must be notified in advance in order for the student to be allowed make-up privileges (extraordinary circumstances excepted). Make-up work must be completed within 48 hours from the day that the student returns to class. Absences of longer than 3 class sessions will have arranged make-up. Family emergencies, etc. must be confirmed by the Student Affairs Office. Plane flights, papers due, social functions, etc. will not be excused. Work missed on days of unexcused absence will receive the grade of “0". Also, accumulated unexcused absences will affect the student's overall grade in the course as follows: 4th unexcused absence: drop 1/3 letter grade (ex. B to B -), 6th unexcused absence: drop 2/3 letter grade (ex. B to C +), 8th unexcused absence: drop 1 full letter grade (ex. B to C), and so forth.

TESTS (20% of final grade)
There will be 3 one-hour exams, but no final exam. The average grade of the Moodle “mini-quizzes” based on the readings (which must be completed before class) and the in-class supplemental quizzes will count as 2 one-hour exam grades (for a total of 5)

PAPERS (20% of final grade)
There will be a total of five “reflection” papers (min. of 4 pages each) based on the critical readings listed on the syllabus. Start with the topic of C.P. Snow on the “Two Cultures” (in Moodle) to learn how to write them. Then choose your four subsequent topics from among the many available on your syllabus. You do at least two of the four during the first half of the semester and two during the second half of the semester. Modus operandi: First summarize (1-2 pages) and then analyze and discuss (2-3 pages) using other research sources as needed. Topics are restricted to the week assigned to them. Papers must be submitted 5:00 p.m. on the day they are due. No early or late papers accepted. The required paper format is as follows: 1" margins max, 12 pt. New Times Roman font max, double-spaced (single in block quotes), name and one-line title at the top of first page (no separate title page), no staples, print on one side of the paper only, Works Cited at the end (do some research before writing!), use MLA documentation format for citations and endnotes. Papers will be graded for both content (60%) and for style (40%).

ORAL EXPOSE (15% of final grade)
This oral presentation on an assigned sf topic must be media-assisted using PowerPoint or a similar program, be approximately 15-20 minutes in length, and allow for student questions and/or discussion at the end. Please provide a summary handout with links/references. The presentation will be graded by both students and the professor as follows: content (50%), format (25%), and delivery (25%).

DISCUSSION (25% of final grade)
This is NOT a lecture course; it is a SEMINAR. As a result, much in-class discussion is required and expected. Sample discussion questions for each story are listed in Moodle. Please prepare them for class. Discussion will be graded for both quantity and quality.

SF WEB PROJECT (20% of final grade)
Students will select one of the sf-related topics described below, prepare a research project, and present it in the form of an online website. Your website project may incorporate material from your oral presentation. Possible topics include:

- a specific sf author (e.g., Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov, Ursula K. Le Guin, et al.). For this topic, the website must include the following: a brief biography and photo of the author; an annotated listing of the author's most important sf works; quotations by literary critics about this author’s sf; a bibliography of reference works that offer information about this author; and a selection of links to other online resources which focus partially or wholly on this sf author; a discussion/analysis of at least one work by this author.

- a specific sf novel or film or TV series (e.g., The Time Machine, Brave New World, GATTACA, comparing Blade Runner with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? etc.). For this topic, the website must include the following: a general summary of the plot, characters, and setting of the work; an analysis of one or more aspects of its thematic content (what it says) and its narratological structure (how it says it); an explanation of why this particular sf work is noteworthy in the history of the genre; quotations by literary/movie critics about this work; a bibliography of reference works that offer information about this work; and a selection of links to other online resources which focus partially or wholly on this work.

- a specific sf theme, as expressed in literature and/or cinema (e.g., aliens, sf and feminism, religion, politics, “cyberpunk,” postmodernism, time travel, ecology, cloning, etc.). For this topic, the website must include the following: a brief historical overview of how this theme has been expressed in various sf works; a detailed analysis of no fewer than 3 works where this theme is dominant; a discussion of why this theme is important and/or relevant in today's world; quotations by literary/movie critics about this theme; a bibliography of reference works that offer information about this theme; and a selection of links to other online resources which focus partially or wholly on this theme.

These web projects should be original; they should NOT simply recycle information, text, or graphics from other websites. They should also not duplicate previous HoScho sf websites. Students are expected to devote substantial time to researching and developing the content of their web project. In many instances, it will be necessary to read a few sf novels and/or view several sf films as well as to locate and read a variety of reference and critical materials (all outside of class) in order to adequately prepare this project. At several points during the semester, I will ask you for a brief progress report about how your web project is coming along. During the last week of classes, all student web projects will be viewed and evaluated by your classmates and me according to the criteria of both CONTENT and DESIGN. (For samples of previous HONR101-02 sf websites, go to:

A 90-100
B 80-89
C 70-79
D 60-69
F 0-59