DePauw University
HONR101: Honor Scholar Seminar

Science Fiction

Dr. Arthur B. Evans
EC 204, aevans@depauw.edu
home page: http://academic.depauw.edu/~aevans

(site last updated: December 2013)


Course description:
In our Western society, the natural sciences and the humanities are often viewed as "Two Cultures," as C.P. Snow once called them. And with today's continuing 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 worldviews: science fiction (SF). As a literature of speculation and "thought experiment," SF 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, we will focus on a variety of recurring philosophical and social themes in SF--technology and human values, gender and identity, alienation and the "other," cybernetics and artificial intelligence, etc.--and how they reflect certain evolutionary currents in today's world and (perhaps) the world of tomorrow. Accompanying the novels and short stories that we discuss in class will be stills and movie clips from SF cinema, ranging from classic films such as Frankenstein (1931) and Forbidden Planet (1956) to more contemporary SF cinema such as The Matrix (1999) and I, Robot (2004). Highly interdisciplinary and thematic in nature, this course does not require a strong science background.

Class materials:
- The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction (2010)
- The Prentice-Hall Anthology of Science Fiction & Fantasy (2001)
- Jules Verne, Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1864)
- weekly online critical readings
-
Moodle website
- daily sf filmclips
- books on reserve at Roy O. West Library