Jun 06, 2023  
College Catalog 2021-2022 
College Catalog 2021-2022 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

ENGL 260 - Science Fiction: From Matrix Baby Cannibals to Brave New Worlds

In the past fifty years, science fiction has emerged as the primary cultural form for thinking about human extinction: climate catastrophe and natural disasters, plagues that empty continents, and species suicide through war. But science fiction has also emerged as the primary cultural form for imagining a near boundless future through technological progress: artificial superintelligence, cybernetic enhancement of the human, and the possibility of utopian political order. Facing such disorienting and unfathomable changes, science fiction seeks with frantic energy to understand what it means to be a human and to live a meaningful life. Why are we here? What are we to become? How will the promises of technology, or the lethal threats of scarcity, change what it means to be a thinking, feeling human? In this course we will examine works of science fiction as complex aesthetic achievements, as philosophical inquiries into the nature of being and time, and as theoretical examinations of the nature of human cognition. We will engage in intensive readings of contemporary texts, including works by Ted Chiang, Lidia Yuknavitch, Philip K. Dick, Margaret Atwood, Octavia Bulter, Stanislaw Lem, Kazuo Ishiguro, and others. A companion film series will include the Matrix and other films in the genre Offered yearly. (4 Credits)