LT364-6-SP-CO:
Cyborgs, Clones and the Rise of the Robots: Science Fiction

The details
2019/20
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Spring
Undergraduate: Level 6
Current
Monday 13 January 2020
Friday 20 March 2020
15
20 August 2019

 

Requisites for this module
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Key module for

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Module description

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.

Aims
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.

Learning Outcomes

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.

Module aims

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.

Module learning outcomes

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.

Module information

Essential Reading:

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
Capek, Karel 1936 (1998) War With the Newts. trans Ivan Klima, Harmondsworth: Penguin
Atwood, Margaret (2003) Oryx and Crake
Ishiguro, Kazuo (2005) Never Let Me Go
Butler, Octavia E. (2005) Fledgling
Carey, Philip (2012) The Chemistry of Tears

And ONE of the following for the book review essay and discussion:
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 availble on Moodle.

Learning and teaching methods

10 x weekly two-hour seminars The first four weeks of the module focus on different genres of science fiction (short stories, novels and a play) from the nineteenth to the twentieth centuries. In week five the seminar will be devoted to small-group discussions on selected texts leading to the first assessment: a book-review essay, providing the opportunity for some reference to a film adaptation where relevant. The tutor will provide guidance on the selection of the texts. The remaining five weeks explore twenty-first century examples of science fiction. Each seminar will be introduced by the tutor with short presentations followed by more detailed group discussions of the primary text.

Bibliography

  • Dick, Philip K. (2007) Do androids dream of electric sheep?, London: Gollancz.
  • Carey, Peter. (2012) The chemistry of tears, London: Faber and Faber.
  • Hopkinson, Nalo. (©2000) Midnight robber, New York: Grand Central.
  • H. G. Wells. (2017) The War of the Worlds, London: Alma Books.
  • (2015) The feminine future: early science fiction by women writers, Mineoloa, New York: Dover Publications Inc.
  • H. G. Wells. (1967) Three novels: The time machine, The war of the worlds, The island of Doctor Moreau, London: Heinemann.
  • Atwood, Margaret. (2003) Oryx and Crake, London: Bloomsbury.
  • Wachowski, Andy; Wachowski, Larry; Reeves, Keanu; Fishburne, Laurence; Moss, Carrie-Anne. (c1999) The matrix, Burbank, CA: Warner Home Video.
  • Wells, H. G. (1967) The War of the Worlds, London: Heinemann.
  • Butler, Octavia E. (2005) Fledgling: novel, New York: Seven Stories Press / Grand Central Press.
  • Elizabeth Lundberg. (2015) ''Let Me Bite You Again': Vampiric Agency in Octavia Butler’s Fledgling', in GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies. vol. 21 (4) , pp.561-584
  • H. G. Wells. (2013) Orson Welles - War of the Worlds - Radio Broadcast (1938): BBC Radio 4 Extra.
  • Elizabeth Bellamy. (2015) 'Ely’s Automatic Housemaid', in The feminine future: early science fiction by women writers, Mineoloa, NY: Dover Publications Inc., pp.30-35
  • Florence McLandburgh. (2015) 'The Automaton Ear', in The feminine future: early science fiction by women writers, Mineoloa, NY: Dover Publications Inc., pp.20-29
  • Capek, Karel. (1964) War with the newts, New York: Bantam Books.
  • Gibson, William. (c1984) Neuromancer, London: Voyager.
  • Proyas, Alex; Smith, Will; Asimov, Isaac. (c2004) I, Robot, [London]: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.
  • Asimov, Isaac. (2013) I, robot, London: Harper Voyager.
  • Capek, Karel; Capek, Josef. (1966) R.U.R. and The insect play, London: Oxford University Press. vol. no. 34
  • Scott, Ridley; Ford, Harrison; Hauer, Rutger; Young, Sean; Olmos, Edward James. (c1999) Blade runner: the director's cut, [London?]: Warner Home Video.
  • Clare Winger Harris. (2015) 'The Artificial Man', in The feminine future: early science fiction by women writers, Mineoloa, NY: Dover Publications Inc., pp.97-103
  • Ishiguro, Kazuo. (2005) Never Let Me Go, London: Faber.
  • Lang, Fritz; Harbou, Thea von; Abel, Alfred; Helm, Brigitte. (2010) Metropolis, [U.K.]: Eureka Entertainment. vol. 8
  • Klotzko, Arlene Judith. (©2006) A clone of your own?: the science and ethics of cloning, New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Jennifer Malia. (2009) '"Public Imbecility and Journalistic Enterprise": The Satire on Mars Mania in H. G. Wells's The War of the Worlds', in Extrapolation. vol. 50 (1) , pp.80-104

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 Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework Participation marks 5%
Coursework Essay (book review) 1,500 words 04/03/2020 35%
Coursework Essay 2 (3,500 words) 22/04/2020 60%

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%

Reassessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Professor Katharine Cockin
LiFTS General Office, email: liftstt@essex.ac.uk Telephone: 01206 872626

 

Availability
Yes
Yes
No

External examiner

Prof Duncan James Salkeld
Professor of Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature
Resources
Available via Moodle
Of 40 hours, 40 (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).

 

Further information

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