Cyborgs, Clones and the Rise of the Robots: Science Fiction
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Undergraduate: Level 6
Thursday 05 October 2023
Friday 15 December 2023
23 March 2022
Requisites for this module
Science fiction has experimented with speculation about other worlds by means of time travels in time and space and other ways of living and being by crossing boundaries of different kinds including species and the human/machine. Some science fiction has imagined oppressive regimes, hierarchical societies characterised by brutality and enslavement.
Other science fiction has used the speculative aspects of the genre to create radically new, imagined transformations of body and society brought about by scientific and technological inventions. This diversity of treatment in science fiction makes it a versatile genre which has appealed to feminist, postcolonial and Afrofuturist as much as to conservative approaches.
The module focuses on a specific theme--what it means to be human--by exploring the robot, the cyborg and clone as well as the automaton and the vampire. The fears and desires are intense in the treatment of the human/animal/machine and when associated with reproduction and the figure of the alien in the world of the science fiction novel.
This module includes material on such topics as colonialism, genocide, genetic engineering and enslavement.
The module aims to explore science fiction as a genre and in historical context by examining selected examples form the nineteenth century to the present day when science fiction forms and ideas seems to dominate contemporary culture. Attention will be paid to the characteristics and conventions of science fiction and the historical developments in the genre with selected examples from the novel, short story, drama and film. Opportunities are provided to broaden knowledge of the genre by a) choosing one of the texts (from a list of recommended texts) for close study and group discussion and b) making some comparison with film adaptations where relevant.
On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:
1. Demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the literary techniques and conventions of science fiction as a genre.
2. Demonstrate relevant knowledge of historical developments in the science fiction genre exemplified by literary texts studied on the module.
3. Perform relevant individual close readings of literary texts and comparative analyses, informed by appropriate research.
4. Develop a detailed critical understanding of changing ideas about what it means to be human as represented in science fiction.
Ashley, Mike, ed. (2015) The Feminine Future: Early Science Fiction by Women Writers, New York: Dover.
Wells, H. G. (1898) The War of the Worlds
Capek, Karel (1923) RUR
Atwood, Margaret (2003) Oryx and Crake
Ishiguro, Kazuo (2005) Never Let Me Go
Ishiguro, Kazuo (2021) Klara and the Sun
Butler, Octavia E. (2005) Fledgling
Thomas, Sheree R ed Dark Matters (2000)
W. E. B. DuBois, The Comet (1920)
Rivers Solomon, The Deep (2019)
For the book review essay and discussion you may select one from the list above or those additionally listed below:
Asimov, Isaac (1950) in I, Robot short stories focusing on 'Runaround' (1942)
Le Guin, Ursula K. (1969) The Left Hand of Darkness
Dick, Philip K. (1968) Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Gibson, William (1984) Neuromancer
Hopkinson, Nalo (2000) Midnight Robber
A full list of secondary reading is available on Moodle.
Anticipated teaching delivery: Weekly 1-hour lecture and 1-hour seminar
Elizabeth Bellamy (2015) ‘Ely’s Automatic Housemaid’, in Michael Ashley (ed.) The feminine future: early science fiction by women writers
. Mineoloa, NY: Dover Publications Inc., pp. 30–35. Available at: https://web-s-ebscohost-com.uniessexlib.idm.oclc.org/ehost/detail/detail?vid=0&sid=1e35a6ab-dfc5-4f8a-a7b7-f8e981a4df0f%40redis&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=1156457&db=nlebk
Wells, H.G. (1967) Three novels: The time machine, The war of the worlds, The island of Doctor Moreau
. London: Heinemann. Available at: https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=1537849&site=ehost-live
Jennifer Malia (2009) ‘“Public Imbecility and Journalistic Enterprise”: The Satire on Mars Mania in H. G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds’, Extrapolation
, 50(1), pp. 80–104. Available at: https://search.proquest.com/docview/234923264/CFEB739E57814BBAPQ/8?accountid=10766
Capek, K. and Capek, J. (1966) R.U.R. and The insect play
. London: Oxford University Press. Available at: https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&scope=site&db=nlebk&db=nlabk&AN=1118375
Asimov, I. (2013b) I, robot. London: Harper Voyager.
Roanhorse, R. et al. (2019) New Suns. Edited by N. Shawl. Nottingham: Rebellion.
The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course.
The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students.
Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list
Assessment items, weightings and deadlines
|Coursework / exam
||Essay 1 (1,500 words)
||Essay 2 (3,000 words)
||Online Portfolio - download from Moodle & submit to FASer in a single Word document
Exam format definitions
- Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
- In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
- In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
- In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary,
for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.
Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Katharine Cockin, email: email@example.com.
Professor Katharine Cockin
LiFTS General Office, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone: 01206 872626
Dr Doug Haynes
University of Sussex
Reader in American Literature and Visual Culture
Available via Moodle
Of 36 hours, 36 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.
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