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Fall Classes

Happy Friday! May you have a terrific one, and a great weekend, as well.

Happy early birthday wishes to lynn_maudlin, morningapproach, gods_lil_rocker, bouncybabylemur, splix, divadiane1, fungus_files, markbourne, sunshinedew, and knesinka_e. May all of you enjoy many happy returns of the day!

Before I forget to mention them, here are three books I'm very excited about that either just came out or will be coming out within the next week:
1. Broadview Press's third edition of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (lovely appendices!)
2. Annette Kolodny's In Search of First Contact: The Vikings of Vinland, the Peoples of the Dawnland, and the Anglo-American Anxiety of Discovery (Native America, First Contact, and the Icelandic Sagas!)
3. D.B. Jackson's Thieftaker (great author, speculative fiction, and a historical setting in pre-Revolutionary America!)

In other news...

I'm getting my ducks in a row for Fall 2012 classes. Here's what I have lined up to teach...

1. I am thrilled to say that I will be offering internationally, online, for graduate students and auditors, Science Fiction, Part 1: From Its Modern Beginnings Through The Golden Age (1818-1966) for the Mythgard Institute. This is my favorite course to teach (followed by the second half), and I'm really excited about moving it onto a broader stage. I'll be posting more information on this as it's available. For now, here is the reading list.

Required Texts:

The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One: 1929-1964: The Greatest Science Fiction Stories of All Time, edited by Robert Silverberg
The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two A: The Greatest Science Fiction Novellas of All Time, edited by Ben Bova
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley [ISBN: 978-1554811038 (Important to have this version!)]
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (William Butcher translation)
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (Natasha Randall translation)
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury [ISBN: 978-0380973835 (Important to have this version!)]
Dune by Frank Herbert
The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein

The Lecture Breakdown (roughly 2.5 hours per topic)

Proto-Science Fiction, Frankenstein, and the Birth of Modern SF  
Ratiocination, Technology, and the Growth of the Genre
Jules Verne and the Scientific Romance
H.G. Wells and the Science Fiction Parable
Utopia, Dystopia, and Lost Worlds
The Pulps, The Editors, and Scientifiction 
Early SF, Gender, and the Rise of Fandom
World War II and Its Aftermath
Science Fiction, the Frontier, and the Young Adult Reader
Science Fiction Film and Television
Science Fiction Goes Epic
Robert Heinlein and the Golden Age

The Weekly Reading Schedule

Week 1: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)

Week 2: "Rappaccini's Daughter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1844)
"The Diamond Lens" by Fitz-James O'Brien (1858)
"Mellonta Tauta" by Edgar Allan Poe (1859)

Week 3: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (1870)

Week 4: The Time Machine by H.G. Wells (1895)
"The Machine Stops" by E.M. Forster (1909)

Week 5: We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (1924)

Week 6: "The Colour Out of Space" by H.P. Lovecraft (1927)
Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell (1938)
"Nightfall" by Isaac Asimov (1941)

Week 7: "First Contact" by Murray Leinster (1945)
Vintage Season by C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner (1946)
"That Only A Mother" by Judith Merrill (1948)

Week 8: The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury (1950)

Week 9: "The Sentinel" by Arthur C. Clarke (1951)
"The Cold Equations" by Tom Godwin (1954)
"Fondly Fahrneheit" by Alfred Bester (1954)

Week 10: A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr. (1960)

Week 11: Dune by Frank Herbert (1965)

Week 12: The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein (1966)

2. I'll also be teaching my 100 Years of Single-Gender Worlds seminar as both an undergraduate and graduate course at Lenoir-Rhyne University.

Here are the assigned readings:

Mizora: A World of Women by Mary E. Bradley Lane (1880-1881)
"Sultana's Dream" by Rokheya Shekhawat Hossein (1905) (online here)
The Disappearance by Philip Wylie (1951)
Consider Her Ways by John Wyndham (1954)
"Houston, Houston, Do You Read?" by James Tiptree, Jr. (1967)
"When It Changed" by Joanna Russ (1972)
London Fields by Caroline Forbes (1985)
Ethan of Athos by Lois McMaster Bujold (1986)
The Gate to Women's Country by Sheri S. Tepper (1988)
Epitaph Road by David Patneaude (2010)

Each student will do an independent essay on one of the following books and present it to the class:

Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1915)
Swastika Night by Katharine Burdekin (1937)
Virgin Planet by Poul Anderson (1959)
Spartan Planet by A. Bertram Chandler (1968)
Sex and the High Command by John Boyd (1970)
Wanderground: Stories of the Hill Women by Sally Miller Gearhart (1979)
Retreat! As It Was by Donna J. Young (1979)
Children of the Light by Susan B. Weston (1985)
A Door into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski (1986)
Ammonite by Nicola Griffith (1993)
Glory Season by David Brin (1993)
Califia's Daughters by Leigh Richards (2004)
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (2008)
Nomansland by Lesley Hauge (2010)

"We live on a minute island of known things. Our undiminished wonder at the mystery which surrounds us is what makes us human. In science fiction we can approach that mystery, not in small, everyday symbols, but in bigger ones of space and time." - Damon Knight


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 29th, 2012 05:41 pm (UTC)
Your terminology for the survey course is interesting at both ends. "From the modern beginnings" briefly tripped me up—I'm used to seeing people use "modern" to mean "contemporary," so it seemed as if you were running the timeline backward!—until I realized that you were using it in a historical sense, to refer to the age of modernity. I'm used to seeing the "Golden Age" linked to the 1940s specifically; I think of the 1950s as a distinctive era, marked by the widespread use of science fiction as a vehicle for social commentary in the Pohl/Kornbluth mode, and 1966 as well into the New Wave era, under the influence of Judith Merrill's "Year's Best SF" anthologies.

When I look at 1818, I think first of Frankenstein, which of course is widely described as the first science fiction novel. I've been coming to think, though, that that description applies more plausibly to Gulliver's Travels, published nearly a century earlier. On one hand it uses its fantastic settings as a vehicle for social criticism, in the style of Pohl and Kornbluth or much Soviet science fiction; on the other it concretizes them, with calculations of the height and food consumption of Lilliputians and Brobdingnagians, orbital data for the (then undiscovered and fictitious) moons of Mars, Laputa being held up by magnetic repulsion, and so on—the fantastic elements have taken on a material interest in their own right. We don't think of sea voyages as "fantastic" any longer—but in terms of how much of the world was then unknown, lands across the sea were as remote and unknown as the solar system is now.
Jun. 29th, 2012 06:06 pm (UTC)
Ah, yes, the "modern beginnings" refers to the age of modernity. (You're right about earlier works; I'll go all the way back to Plato's Republic in my lectures on proto-SF, and definitely spend time on the medieval and early modern texts, including Swift. You raise a terrific point about thinking of sea voyages in the context of the time.) The reason it goes so late is that I'm using Heinlein himself as a symbol of the Golden Age, so we'll be talking about his works from the 1940s and 1950s, ending with what I think is his best (The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress).

The second part of the two-part course actually starts earlier (so there's a brief chronological overlap), picking up with the New Wave.

Hey, my students in my dystopia class this summer just finished Pohl/Kornbluth! :)
Jun. 29th, 2012 06:15 pm (UTC)
I see we have a difference of opinion about Heinlein; I think he was at his height in the Scribner's juveniles, from Space Cadet through Have Space Suit—Will Travel. (Rocket Ship Galileo was really a warmup; we have records that show he conceived it as the first of a conventional series, like the Rick Brant novels, and the boys' book formula shows more.)
Jul. 8th, 2012 03:02 pm (UTC)
Oh, I do adore the Scribner juveniles! And I'll definitely be giving them significant attention. I agree with you that they represent Heinlein in terrific form. Have Space Suit, as you point out, is particularly amazing.

I do think that The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, though, represents not only Heinlein's best, but also one of the most important SF novels of the century. There's so much there, so well done.
Jun. 29th, 2012 06:16 pm (UTC)
Aww thanks for the birthday wishes! :)
Jul. 8th, 2012 03:02 pm (UTC)
My pleasure! *hugs you*
Curtis Weyant
Jun. 30th, 2012 04:24 pm (UTC)
History of science fiction
Yes!! I can't wait for the Mythgard class. :)
Jul. 8th, 2012 03:03 pm (UTC)
Re: History of science fiction
Oh, thank you so much. I'm absolutely delighted that you're interested in it!
Katherine Sas
Jul. 9th, 2012 07:39 pm (UTC)
Re: History of science fiction
Me too! Of all the books on the list I've only read The Martian Chronicles, so I'm pumped to venture into new and exciting territory.
Jul. 10th, 2012 12:46 am (UTC)
Re: History of science fiction
Oh, this makes my week! I'm really excited about joining you on the adventure. Thanks for being interested!
Katherine Sas
Jul. 10th, 2012 07:36 pm (UTC)
Re: History of science fiction
Of course! The Mythgard Harry Potter class was a blast.
Jul. 15th, 2012 12:27 am (UTC)
Re: History of science fiction
I'm thrilled to hear you enjoyed it! I know I had a fantastic time. You and your fellow Mythgardians are the best. :D
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )