ENGL 365: Science Fiction
Course Convenor: Dr Brian Baker
Seminar Time and Venue: Thursday 9am – 11am, Bowland North SR11 (Term 2)
Film Screening Time and Venue: Wednesday 9am – 12pm, Bowland North SR22 (Term 2)
Course Aims and Objectives:
This course will trace the development of science fiction (SF) in literature and film, providing an insight into the conventions of the genre and, in particular, how the key themes of the science fiction genre have been successfully adapted for the screen. Texts have been chosen from a range of historical periods to enable a consideration of the cultural and historical contexts in which key science fiction texts were produced, and how this effects their development. The course will analyse in detail the formal and generic characteristics of the science fiction novel and the short story, and will provide an introduction to the visual aspects of the science fiction film. The course will integrate themes such as time travel (La Jetée, 12 Monkeys, The Time Traveller’s Wife), encounters with the alien or other (War of the Worlds, Starship Troopers, Monsters, Solaris), and questions of human subjectivity, transcendence, love and loss. The module will also constitute an ongoing investigation of the relationship between science fiction film and ‘literary’ SF texts, considering both how the genre is represented through the cinematic form and what happens in terms of narrative structure, plot and characterisation when presented in an audiovisual format.
1 x 1,500 word film analysis. Students to choose/be allocated particular weeks to write on (to be posted up on the MOODLE site in time for class discussions). A hard copy is also to be handed in before the seminar (40%); 1 x 3,000-word essay (60%)
1,500-word film analyses to be handed in one week before the seminar in which the topic is being discussed. For example, if the topic you are writing on is The Time Traveller’s Wife (Week 3), then the analysis should be submitted to the tutor for posting on the MOODLE page (and a hard copy handed in) during Week 2.
Long Essay = by 12 noon on Monday of Week 1/Term 3
1 x 2 hour seminar per week (with the exception of Study Week)
On satisfactory completion of the course the students will:
- be able to analyse and evaluate science fiction narratives using the key theories of genre fiction and film adaptation covered in the course
- have an understanding of the place of narrative and theme within science fiction in film and literature, and will be able to link the texts/films they have studied to key theoretical concepts.
- understand the relationship of science fiction films and texts to specific historical contexts.
- have learned to extend their understanding by applying concepts to films and texts not specifically studied in seminars
- produce a piece of writing that synthesizes the information offered in the weekly seminars with the students’ own comprehension of the narratives.
H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds (1898)
Clarke, Arthur. C, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) (Orbit, 1990)
Heinlein, Robert. A, Starship Troopers (1959) (New English Library, 1993)
Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveller’s Wife (2004)
Stanislaw Lem, Solaris (1961) (Faber, 2003)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Starship Troopers (1998)
La Jetée (1963)
12 Monkeys (1997)
(other films considered during seminars will include George Pal, The War of the Worlds; Steven Spielberg, The War of the Worlds; Robert Schweintke, The Time Traveller’s Wife; Andrey Tarkovski, Solaris; Steven Soderbergh, Solaris)
For further reading, see the course Moodle site
Week 1: Introduction
Texts: Selected critical and fictional material, showing (in class) of Marker, La Jetée (1962)
Week 2: Time Loops
Text: Gilliam, Twelve Monkeys (1997)
Week 3: Time Threads
Text: Niffenegger, The Time Traveller’s Wife (2004); clips from the film adaptation
Week 4: Loss and Reality
Text: Inception (2010)
Week 5: Loss and Restitution
Text: Lem, Solaris (plus Tarkovskii and Soderbergh film clips)
Independent Study Week
Week 7: Invasion!
Text: Wells, The War of the Worlds (1898), plus Pal and Spielberg film clips
Week 8: Cold Wars
Texts: Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers (1959); clips from Verhoeven’s film adaptation
Week 9: Beyond
Arthur C Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968); clips from Kubrick’s film adaptation
Week 10: Border Crossings
Text: Monsters (2011)
Back to: ENGL 308
Forward to: ENGL 367