IMPORTANT NOTE: THIS IS THE SYLLABUS FROM LAST SUMMER (2011).

The basic workload and course focus/goals will be fundamentally the same, but there may be some changes in the readings used. DON’T BUY THE BOOKS BASED ON THIS SYLLABUS!!!!!

English 40: Science Fiction and Fantasy Summer 2011 Jamie Williamson Office: 304 Old Mill; 656-4139; Home 863-0140 (not after 9); e-mail james.t.williamson@uvm.edu

In this course we will be reading works of science fiction and fantasy literature, and viewing films, from the nineteenth century through the contemporary period. The two genres are grouped together here, despite being virtual opposites in certain key respects, due to a publishing history which, particularly since about the 1920s and particularly in the United States, has tended to lump them together. This in turn has resulted in cross-fertilization between the two, writers who have worked in both genres, and a considerable grey area of separation. Of the works we will be reading, for example, Ray Bradbury’s “SF” The Martian Chronicles contains some elements which might be more readily be associated with fantasy, while the inter-planetary backstory of Robert E. Howard’s “The Tower of the Elephant” might be more readily associated with SF. Ursula LeGuin has written highly regarded work in both genres. At root, of course, both are genres which posit circumstances which move beyond our consensus reality, which are “fantastic.” However, the nature of the “fantastic” in either case is generally presented in very different terms. In SF, there is generally some conceptual rationale, often in the form of a genuine scientific theory, which roots the fantastic in a credible premise. The drawing room discussion of dimensions which opens Wells’ The Time Machine engages genuine scientific speculation reflecting the time in which it was published (1895). Though Ray Bradbury’s “science” is notably lacking in The Martian Chronicles, the idea of space travel was gaining theoretical credibility by 1950. In fantasy, the “fantastic” generally appears in the form of magic, which, though it will evince a consistency in its manifestations with a good writer, or even be given some systematic framework (this has grown increasingly common in the days of Harry Potter, and can be seen in The Tombs of Atuan), is in its workings a mystery. There is no practical theoretical information on what gives Farmer Giles’ sword power, or how a dragon works, in Farmer Giles of Ham; the magic in “Jirel Meets Magic” drifts towards the surreal. Needless to say, these are not absolute “rules” and one can find plenty of exceptions to them. These differences point to differing responses to broad ideological/historical developments in the Euro-American matrix over the past few centuries. SF is generally rooted in an imaginative, speculative response to the kind of scientific thought which grew up in the eighteenth century, and is often “future” directed. Fantasy is an extension of an imaginative response to the past of a kind which also grew up in the eighteenth century, which has often represented, in part, a reaction against the modern scientific worldview. Once again, this “rule” is very loose and scarcely absolute.

Our reading will, by intention, include work written and published at various points from the second half of the 19th century (The Golden Key and The Time Machine) to the later 20th century (LeGuin and Philip K. Dick). We will be focussing on work written in English, from Great Britain and Anglo North America. Films will range from the early days of the “talkies” (The March of the Wooden Soldiers) to last year (The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus).

TEXTS The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury The Golden Key, by George MacDonald The Tombs of Atuan, by Ursula K. LeGuin Smith of Wootton and Farmer Giles of Ham, by J.R.R.Tolkien A Maze of Death, by Philip K.Dick “The Tower of the Elephant,” by Robert E.Howard (on e-reserve) “Jirel Meets Magic,” by C.L.Moore (on e-reserve) “Liane the Wayfarer,” by Jack Vance (copies will be provided)

Reading Schedule July 5… course introduction; read/discuss opening chapter of Time Machine; view an episode of The Outer Limits. July 6… finish Time Machine; we will view the 1960 film adaptation. July 7… The Golden Key and Smith of Wootton Major; we will view Pan’s Labyrinth. July 12… The Martian Chronicles through “September 2005: The Martian”; we will view the Twilight Zone episode entitled “The Invaders.” July 13… finish Martian Chronicles; we will view Forbidden Planet. QUIZ July 14… “The Tower of the Elephant” and “Jirel Meets Magic;” we will view Conan the Barbarian. July 19… The Tombs of Atuan through the chapter entitled “Names”; some late 60s/early 70s music engaging SF/Fantasy motifs. July 20… finish The Tombs of Atuan; video TBA. QUIZ July 21… Farmer Giles of Ham and “Liane the Wayfarer”; we will view March of the Wooden Soldiers. July 26… A Maze of Death through Chapter Twelve; video TBA. July 27… finish A Maze of Death; we will view Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. July 28… in-class essay. COURSE LOGISTICS Class sessions will be a mix of lecture, full-class and small-group discussions, oral presentations, and film. (Please turn off your cell phones; you are welcome to use laptops for in-class journal entries, but otherwise laptops should be closed.) Individual class sessions will focus on the reading done for that day, and you are expected to come to class prepared to discuss the reading (which of course means having done it). BRING THE RELEVANT BOOKS TO CLASS.

Work in addition to the reading… An in-class essay on the last day of class Participation in a group oral presentation (3 per group)—sign up tonight. Three quizzes: days noted on reading schedule. In-class focussed free writes. Grades… The foundation of the course grade will be divided three ways between the essay, the oral presentation, and the quiz average. The free writes will be graded “check” (a solid, thoughtful reflection), “check plus” (a strikingly articulate and original reflections), or “check minus” (a reflection which give little evidence that the reading has been done): a check average will maintain the course average, a check plus average will raise the course average one increment (ie—B to B+), and a check minus average will lower the course average one increment (ie—B to B-). Attendance is required: more than one absence may result in a lowered final grade; more than three will result in no credit for the course. “Present” means prepared, attentive, and awake, and also on time. Lastly, quizzes must be done in class on the relevant days: no out of class make-ups.

Reading Journals The reading journals will be divided into two parts: 1) A section written out of class, made up of one page entries, one for each book, and one for each film, and half page entries for the two short stories on e-reserve. It should be evident from what you’ve written that you have in fact done the reading, but beyond this there are no specific content requirements: the focus should build on your own response to the book—you might take a “review” approach,” you might focus on a particular passage that struck you, you might discuss a particular theme, etc. IMPORTANT NOTE: A “page” means the equivalent of a 12 point typed, double-spaced page, with inch margins, from the top line of the page to the bottom line of the page (350-400 words). You are welcome to handwrite these, but make sure you take the size of your writing into account: if you average c.200 words handwritten, the one page requirement becomes two pages, etc. 2) A section for entries written in-class. Unlike the out of class entries, these will be in response to particular questions which I will pose to the class, and will characteristically take ten or fifteen minutes. Since people write at different speeds, the “length” is ten or fifteen minutes worth. The questions will be exploratory and interpretive, without a presumed single “correct” answer. These will be intermittent and usually unannounced. In both cases, these are intended to be informal—don’t worry about copy editing or revising; you are under no obligation to type, word process, or otherwise computerize the in-class entries. The physical format is up to you: a looseleaf notebook, a spiral notebook, a folder, whatever. However, a) they should be secured in some fashion—I will not accept a pile

of loose sheets, and b) in class and out of class entries should be clearly separated from each other and identified, and should not be mixed in with class notes, etc. A “check” means you have done solid, thoughtful work in the journal.

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