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ENGL. 2360: Science Fiction and Fantasy

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LH 95 stellar nursery in the Large Magellanic Cloud  
Photo by NASA                            PD

Welcome to ENGL 2360: Science Fiction and Fantasy

This course explores examples of science fiction and fantasy from classic to contemporary works, with a focus on questions such as:

• How do humans define ourselves and relate to human and non-human others? What does it mean to be an individual, and what does it mean to be a “hero”?
• What can we learn from moments when different cultures interact or when humans engage with new technology?
• How do fantastic genres enable social and philosophical commentary?

Genre fiction is often dismissed as escapist pleasure-reading, yet this course will encourage you to consider the literary and cultural value of works.

Why Science Fiction?

“The authentic SF experience is a perception of truth, reality in an unreal environment.” - David G. Hartwell

The “SF” that Hartwell describes here is science fiction, but that acronym might also stand for “speculative fiction,” a category that encompasses both science fiction and fantasy. Stories about other planets, fantasy realms, and the future invariably reflect upon our own world: the “truth” and “reality” that Hartwell mentions. We will focus on the way that speculative genres empower stylistic experimentation, cultural commentary, and exploration of substantial issues.