MSC, SUMMER 2008 DR. GERALD LUCAS TUES & THUR 12:30-2:50, H/SS-122
Spec-Fic covers many genres of ﬁction, from science ﬁction to magical realism.
ENGL 4482: Popular Culture
In its simplest sense, speculative ﬁction asks a “what if ” question of reality.
This section of ENGL 4482 Popular Culture will c o n s i d e r speculative ﬁction (spec-ﬁc), attempt to arrive at a critical deﬁnition, examine its various f o r m s, p l a c e i t within a social context, and its c u l t u r a l signiﬁcance. Many consider “speculative ﬁction” as a synonym for science ﬁction, since the latter speculates The information presented on this syllabus is current as of Tuesday, May 27, 2008. For the most accurate information, see the course web site: <litmuse.net>. LITMU S E . N E T
about the future. Does speculative ﬁction differ in any way from science ﬁction? Is this difference signiﬁcant? Is speculative ﬁction a sub-genre of science ﬁction, or vice versa? Are there other genres that might also be considered speculative? Along with our look at science ﬁction, we will also consider texts within genres that are not necessarily science ﬁction, but that seem to be speculative in nature, like fantasy, magical realism, alternate histories, slipstream, and even horror. If these genres, too, can be considered speculative ﬁction, then treating spec-ﬁc the same as science ﬁction must be reconsidered. Our ongoing task this semester will be to consider the speculative nature of each of the texts we read in an effort to come to a more critical understanding of spec-ﬁc. How does it, then, relate to genre ﬁction as a whole? Does its very name suggest a more critical approach to
“Science ﬁction is that branch of literature which is concerned with the impa ct of scientiﬁc advance upon human beings.” —I. Asim ov
genre ﬁction; i.e., is spec-ﬁc deﬁned not by the genre of the text, but by the critical, thought-provoking nature of the text regardless of genre or subject matter? Does that, then, make spec-ﬁc the literature of genre ﬁction?
Dr. Gerald R. Lucas Ofﬁce: H/SS-117 • Hours: TR 11a-12pm & by appointment firstname.lastname@example.org • http://grlucas.net/ 1
Our study of spec-ﬁc will use the following texts: ‣ Mikhail Bulgakov. The Master and Margarita. ‣ Octavia Butler. Kindred. ‣ Steve Niles. Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend. ‣ Stanislaw Lem. Solaris. ‣ Sherri Tepper. The Gate to Women’s Country. ‣ Various short stories as downloadable PDFs. Th e s e b o o k s a n d s t o r i e s should accompany you to class on the day they are assigned to be read (see Reading Schedule), as we will make heavy use of them in our daily discussions. Please do not come to class without your text(s). You should also bring an ink interface of some sort, as well as dead trees on which to take notes. You should not sit in class like you’re watching TV: learning requires active participation, especially in a shorter summer course. Finally, since class lecture and discussion will often touch on the controversial, this college classroom is not an appropriate place for children. Please leave them at home.
Skeleton Reading Schedule
This schedule represents the ideal outline for our study this semester, but it is tentative and subject to change. Individual stories may be downloaded via the course web site; they should be printed on dead trees and brought with you to class. 5/27 6/3 6/5 6/10 6/12 6/17 6/19 6/24 6/26 7/1 7/3 7/8 7/10 7/15 7/17 7/22 Borges “Garden of the Forking Paths”, Gibson “Gernsback Continuum” Bulgakov The Master and Margarita, Part 1 Bulgakov The Master and Margarita, Part 2 García-Márquez “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World”; Ballard “The Drowned Giant” Calvino “The Distance of the Moon” Butler Kindred, Prologue through “The Fight” Butler Kindred, “The Storm” to end Niles (Matheson) I Am Legend Niven “Man of Steel”; Di Filippo “Virus” Tepper The Gate to Women’s Country, Chapters 1-19 Tepper The Gate to Women’s Country, Chapters 20-35 Tiptree, Jr. “The Girl Who Was Plugged In” Ballard “The Enormous Space” & “Space Station” Lem Solaris, “The Arrival” through “The Conference” Lem Solaris, “The Monsters” through “The Old Mimoid” Final Exam: 6-8pm
There are three major requirements for this section of ENGL 4482, each of which must be successfully completed to pass the course. Assignments are weighted on a point system, depending on their importance. For example, a reading quiz might have 10 points while the ﬁnal exam might have 200. FINAL EXAM A ﬁnal cumulative exam will be given that will test your knowledge of the subject matter (texts, lecture material, and vocabulary), your ability to synthesize this material, and your creativity in going beyond the discussion and lecture materials. The ﬁnal exam will include v o c a b u l a r y, i d e n t i ﬁ c a t i o n , a n d interpretation. All exam grades will be based upon objective knowledge of the material, thoroughness, depth of insight, precision, and originality. WRITING For each class period, you are required to respond in writing. In most cases, these responses will be written in an online forum directly after class, so the entire class can beneﬁt from reading your Continued on last page LITMU S E . N E T
Science ﬁction “is the myth-making principle of human nature today.” —Lester del Rey
ASSIGNMENTS Yo u r w o r k r e p r e s e n t s y o u . Therefore, I expect everything you turn into me to exemplify the very best of your professional self. Please proofread all work before submission. ATTENDANCE Attendance will be taken at every class meeting. If you come in late, it is your responsibility to inform me of your presence that day. If you fail to do so, you are absent. Two tardies count as one absence. There are no “excused absences” in my class, but you are allowed to miss one class before your grade suffers. Each additional class missed beyond the allotted one will result in your ﬁnal semester’s grade being dropped one letter. DEADLINES Late work is not acceptable and will receive a zero. Technical, computer malfunctions are not acceptable excuses for late work. Quizzes and in-class activities cannot be made up for any reason. EMAIL The best and quickest way of contacting me is via email. Only use the email address that I provided on this document for class business: <email@example.com>. GRADES Letter grades are based upon a traditional ten-point scale. If you would like to know your ofﬁcial grade, you should see me during my ofﬁce hours or make an appointment. MATERIALS Course readings are an integral part of the class and should be brought daily. When readings are assigned to be discussed in class, please bring a copy of the reading with your reading notes ready LITMU S E . N E T
to participate in the discussion. Do not come to class without your books and something to write with and on. Everyday. Seriously. All non-course-related materials — especially electronic communication devices, like cell phones, bluetooth earpieces, iPods, etc. — should be left in your car. They are not needed for our class and should, therefore, not accompany you. I understand our contemporary need to be in contact with everyone all the time, but do not let this personal need distract the rest of the enclose it in quotation marks, and cite the source using M L A citation style. A paraphrase employs source material by restating an idea in an entirely new form that is original in both sentence structure and word choice. Quotations and paraphrases must be cited to avoid plagiarism. 2. If you use ideas or information that are not common knowledge, you must cite a source.
“Science ﬁction represent s the modern heresy and the cu tting edge of speculative imag ination as it grapples with Myster ious Time—linear or non-lin ear time.” —Frank Herbert
Unsure as to what to cite, when to cite, and how to cite? Check your handbook for the best information. The professor reserves the right to use Turn It In, a plagiarism prevention service, to evaluate any written work submitted for this course. As directed by the professor, students are expected to submit or have their assignments submitted through the service in order to meet requirements for this course. The papers may be retained by the service for the sole purpose of checking for plagiarized content in future student submissions. SPECIAL NEEDS Any student who has special needs should contact Ann E. Loyd at the Counseling and Career Center (478-471-2714) and ﬁll out the appropriate paperwork. The student should then see me with the documentation so that the necessary accommodations can be made. TECHNOLOGY COMPETENCY Computer competency is an integral skill in any discipline. Students should be familiar with the general uses of a computer, particularly using a web browser. Students should be willing to put forth the effort to learn what they need to in order to succeed in the course. Please see me for additional assistance. 3
class. If you answer a cell phone in my class, I will expect you to leave. In addition, I do not allow class discussions to be taped, so do not bring any voice recording devices to class. Let’s try to keep eating and drinking to a minimum. Eat your dinner and snacks before you come to class. PLAGIARISM Any time you use ideas that are not your own — be they paraphrased or copied verbatim — in anything that you write, you must supply a citation in an identiﬁable citation method, e.g., MLA, Chicago, etc. Willful plagiarism will result in automatic failure of this class and will be submitted to the Dean for further potential consequences. Remember two things: 1. If you use the language of your source, you must quote it exactly,
Course Procedure and Class Time
Every class will follow a similar procedure, beginning promptly at the start of class:
1. Attendance — If you come in late, it is your responsibility to ask me to mark you present. Remember, two tardies count as an absence. 2. Reading Quiz — Since reading is such an important component of this course, you should expect a quiz for every assigned reading. These quizzes are designed to test factual aspects of the text, not interpretation or evaluation. Read every text carefully and take reading notes — character names, general plot, important items, etc. — and the quizzes will be no problem. 3. Posing Questions — As you read each assigned text, consider aspects of the text that are confusing or unclear. When you ﬁnish reading, write down at least ﬁve questions that you have about the text. These questions should be in an effort to gain further insight to the text for yourself and your classmates. After the quiz, you will have the opportunity to pose these questions for discussion. 4. Discussion — Most of the class period will be our attempt to answer the questions posed at the beginning of the class. 5. Forum — If all goes well, we should close the class each day in a computer-assisted classroom, so that we may end each day with the forum, in which you will respond to an initial prompt, then comment on others’ posts. While you will not be quizzed everyday, you should always prepare for a quiz: this means that you should read carefully, and be ready to discuss the assigned texts. Knowing the assigned texts is paramount for this course, for most of our time will be spent on discussion of the texts. If you come unprepared, you are not only hurting yourself, but hampering the class. Finally, we will not follow this procedure ever yday. Sometimes discussing will proceed naturally, so we will not make ourselves slaves to a certain procedure. Come ready to discuss. Continued from page 2
“Science Fiction is speculative ﬁction in which the author takes as his ﬁrst postulate the real world as we know it, including all established facts and natural laws. The result can be extremely fantastic in content, but it is not fantasy; it is legitimate—and often very tightly reasoned—speculation about the possibilities of the real world.” —Robert Heinlein
thoughts. The forum will also give you a chance to respond to others’ ideas. Your writing in the forum should total at least 350 words, including an initial response to the text and a comment (or several) on your classmates’ entries. The purpose of these responses is to get you thinking about issues covered in the works that are important to you. You should reﬂect on how these works relate to other works we discuss in class, literature you have read previously, your own daily life, and class discussion. All entries should be thoughtful, refer to speciﬁc portions of the text on which you're writing, and use the critical vocabulary that we have introduced in class. You can access the forum at litmuse.net. Other writing will be assigned in class. DAILY WORK “That's really what SF is all about, you know: the big reality that pervades the real world we live in: the reality of change. Science ﬁction is the very literature of change.” —Frederick Pohl LITMU S E . N E T
Regular class attendance, question posing, and active participation in classroom discussions are required. Participation, effort, and attitude will count signiﬁcantly in this course. Quizzes, other class activities, and homework assignments not explicitly outlined above will be considered daily work.