M A I N *L I N K S


SUNY Fredonia
College of Arts and Sciences
ENGL 216: Science Fiction
Spring 2012
Section 1: TTh 12:30-1:50, Fenton 179
Office: Fenton 265; M 10-11, TTh 11-12:30, 2-3:30, W 10-12, and by appointment; 673-3856
E-mail: simon@fredonia.edu, brucesimon18@yahoo.com
Web Page: www.fredonia.edu/department/english/simon/
ANGEL Space: https://fredonia.sln.suny.edu/default.asp


About the Course Web Pages

This web site is designed to help you get as much out of this course as possible--you can use it to find out what assignments are due and when, how your work will be assessed, how to use the course ANGEL space, and how to use the world-wide web for research, among other things. Please get in the habit of checking back to these pages to keep track of changes to the syllabus and advice on assignments, as well as to surf the ever-expanding list of links to interesting web pages related to the course. And please contact me anytime (see above for my coordinates) if you have ideas about how to improve these pages or the course as a whole.

I. Course Description

Historical and generic survey of science fiction through representative works and major authors; examination of its relationships with other types of literature. This section will focus on near-future science fiction from a variety of places and times. It is organized into four units, each consisting of three novels set in roughly the same decade. This structure allows us, within each unit, to compare different authors' narrative strategies, themes, and visions (formalist criticism), consider developments in the genre and relations to other genres, modes, and media (intertextual criticism), explore relations between the novels and the time periods in which they were written (historicist criticism), and relate the novels to contemporary social/political issues (cultural criticism). Further, it allows us to practice going beyond disciplinary (science fiction as a specialization within English studies) and even interdisciplinary (science fiction studies as a cultural studies field combining literature with history, sociology, the sciences, and so on) inquiry and work toward a transdisciplinary approach to examining the stakes of science fiction.

This course is an elective in the English and English Adolescence Education majors and satisfies Part V of the College Core Curriculum (CCC).

II. Rationale

In ENGL 216, as in most courses offered by the English Department, students from a range of majors, minors, and concentrations interact, and the goals of the professional programs are integrated with specific course and CCC goals. Achieving these goals (described in Section IV below) will require us to foster academic skills and intellectual habits of reading closely and carefully, thinking critically and creatively, listening actively and attentively, speaking thoughtfully and concisely, and writing clearly and analytically--skills and habits useful to everyone, but of particular importance to future teachers.

III. Textbooks. There are twelve books in the campus bookstore for you to purchase:

IV. Course Objectives and Outcomes

As a course fulfilling Part V of the CCC, ENGL 216 is designed to present general ideas and ethical principles basic to the humanities and to foster critical thinking and critical literacy. This section sets out to reach these goals by helping students (1) to appreciate, understand, and practice using various modes of analysis of science fiction, (2) to appreciate, understand, and analyze a variety of narratives and narrative strategies in science fiction, (3) to appreciate, understand, and analyze the development of science fiction from the Cold War to the present, and (4) to appreciate, understand, and analyze the relationship between science fiction and society after 1945. To achieve these goals, students will

V. Instructional Methods and Activities

The methods used in the classroom will include lecture, in-class writing, guided discovery, open discussion, cooperative group work, and other learning-centered and critical thinking-oriented activities.

VI. Evaluation and Grade Assignment

A. Methods

Attendance/Preparation/Participation (15%). Regular attendance and thoughtful participation are crucial to your enjoyment of and success in this course. If there is absolutely no way for you to avoid missing a class, please contact me ahead of time or soon after your absence, preferably by email. More important than showing up on time, of course, is coming to class prepared and focused. I expect you to read what has been assigned for a given date at least once (and preferably more than that!) by the time we begin to discuss it in class, and to familiarize yourself with and think about the postings on the course ANGEL site's discussion board and on sf@SF, the course blog (described below and in Section VIIIB). This is a discussion rather than a lecture course, after all; although I will provide some context for and interpretations of our reading, the bulk of class time will be spent in small- or large-group discussions and activities. Since it's difficult to make good contributions to discussions about a piece of writing if you haven't read it attentively or thought about it thoroughly, how well you budget your time outside of class will to a large degree determine how well you do in this class in general and how well you do on this portion of your course grade in particular.

Your grade for this segment of the course will be based on a combination of your attendance and your preparation/participation in class and on the course ANGEL site and/or course blog. As there are no exams in this course, think of my evaluation of your preparation/participation as a different but equally important method of assessing your overall performance and improvement in the course. Due to the reliance on attendance of many aspects of preparation and participation, more than two unexcused absences will hurt your preparation/participation grade and each non-emergency absence after the fourth will lower your final course grade by one full grade (e.g., with five such absences, a B+ will become a C+; with six, it will become a D+).

Online Participation (15%). If anyone is unfamiliar with using the course ANGEL site (https://fredonia.sln.suny.edu/default.asp) please see me. We will be using the site to distribute announcements, provide research and other resources, and collect certain assignments, so be in the habit of checking it regularly. To supplement and prepare for our class discussions and activities, as well as continue them after the end of each class, I have created a discussion board on our course ANGEL site. You should use it regularly and often to develop your writing and critical thinking skills, demonstrate your engagement with the course material, and consider and respond to others' ideas and interpretations. For instance, you can, among other things,

Over the course of the semester, I will keep track of the timing, amount, and quality of your posts to the discussion board, including the quality of the ensuing online discussions initiated by them. 0-4 posts will earn you a zero, 5-9 posts an F, 10-14 a D, 15-19 a C, 20-24 a B, and 25+ an A on this segment of your final grade. The quality of your online participation will also be factored into your preparation/participation grade.

Critical Essays (40%). I will provide detailed information on the two required 4-to-6-page critical essays on the course web site at www.fredonia.edu/department/english/simon/sf3/ce.htm.

Final Project (30%). I will provide detailed information on your options for the oral/written final project, which include participating in a team service-learning project or an individual critical, creative, pedagogical, or web-authoring project, at www.fredonia.edu/department/english/simon/sf3/fp.htm.

B. Grading. All work during the semester will be graded on a letter basis (A=outstanding, B=good, C=average, D=bad, F=awful) and converted into a number for purposes of calculating final grades. I use the following conversion system (the number in parentheses is the "typical" or "normal" conversion, but any number in the range may be assigned to a given letter grade):

A+=97-100 (98); A=93-96.99 (95); A-=90-92.99 (91); B+=87-89.99 (88); B=83-86.99 (85); B-=80-82.99 (81); C+=77-79.99 (78); C=73-76.99 (75); C-=70-72.99 (71); D+=67-69.99 (68); D=63-66.99 (65); D-=60-62.99 (61); F=0-59.99 (55)

Your final grade is determined by converting the weighted numerical average of the above assignments into a letter grade, according to the above scale.

C. Portfolio. English majors should be aware of the English department's guidelines for ongoing portfolio submissions.

VII. Bibliography.

A. Contemporary References

B. Classic References

C. Key Journals



VIII. Course Schedule and Policies

A. Tentative Course Schedule. The following course schedule is subject to revision--please refer here regularly for updates to this schedule, notes on the texts, and suggestions for further reading.


T 1/24 Introductions, Overview, Set-up.
Th 1/26 Near-Future? Science Fiction?

The Bad Old Century


T 1/31 Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Part One-Two (1-230)
Th 2/2 Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Part Three-Appendix (231-323)


T 2/7 Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale, Part I-XI (1-253)
Th 2/9 Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale, Part XII-Historical Notes (254-395)


T 2/14 Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go, Part One-Two (1-203)
Th 2/16 Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go, Part Three (204-288)

The Bad New Century


T 2/21 Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, Part One-Two (1-110)
Th 2/23 Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, Part Three-Coda (111-190)


M 2/27 CRITICAL ESSAY I due by 11:30 pm in CE Drop Box on course ANGEL site (attach as .rtf, .doc, .docx, or .pdf document, please).
T 2/28 Butler, Parable of the Sower, 2024-2026 (1-133)
Th 3/1 Butler, Parable of the Sower, 2027 (134-295)


T 3/6 MacLeod, The Execution Channel, Part One-Three (1-184)
Th 3/8 MacLeod, The Execution Channel, Part Four-Five (185-285)


M 3/12-F 3/16 SPRING BREAK: NO CLASSES.

The Corporate Century?


T 3/20 Brin, Earth, Part I-IV (1-218)
Th 3/22 Brin, Earth, Part V-VIII (219-481)
F 3/23 CRITICAL ESSAY II due by 11:30 pm in CE Drop Box on course ANGEL site (attach as .rtf, .doc, .docx, or .pdf document, please).


T 3/27 Brin, Earth, Part IX-Afterword (482-667)
Th 3/29 Stephenson, Snow Crash, Ch. 1-16 (1-138)


T 4/3 Stephenson, Snow Crash, Ch. 17-43 (138-325)
Th 4/5 Stephenson, Snow Crash, Ch. 44-71 (326-468)


T 4/10 Morgan, Market Forces, Prologue-File #3 (1-289)
Th 4/12 Morgan, Market Forces, File #4-#5 (290-441)
F 4/13 FINAL PROJECT PROPOSAL due by 11:30 pm on discussion forum on course ANGEL site (attach as .rtf, .doc, .docx, or .pdf document, please).

The Asian Century?


T 4/17 Gibson, Neuromancer, Part One-Three (1-156)
Th 4/19 Gibson, Neuromancer, Part Four-Coda (157-271)
F 4/20 CRITICAL ESSAY III due by 11:30 pm in CE Drop Box on course ANGEL site (attach as .rtf, .doc, .docx, or .pdf document, please).


T 4/24 McHugh, China Mountain Zhang, China Mountain-Homework (1-208)
Th 4/26 McHugh, China Mountain Zhang, Daoist Engineering-Three Fragrances (209-310)


T 5/1 Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl, Ch. 1-18 (1-182)
Th 5/3 Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl, Ch. 19-Epilogue (183-359); course evaluations
F 5/4 CRITICAL ESSAY IV due by 11:30 pm in CE Drop Box on course ANGEL site (attach as .rtf, .doc, .docx, or .pdf document, please).


Th 5/10 4-6 pm: Final Project presentations in regular classroom
F 5/11 FINAL PROJECT due by 11:30 pm in FP Drop Box on course ANGEL site (attach as .rtf, .doc, .docx, or .pdf document, please).

B. Class Policies

1. Attendance. As stated in Section VI above, barring emergencies each absence after the fourth will lower your final course grade by a full grade. Be aware that absences due to emergencies are the only absences that will not be counted toward your total for the semester. Emergencies include but are not limited to death in the family, hospitalization or serious illness, and natural disasters; scheduled and unavoidable school-sponsored events (games, meets, performances, etc.) are also counted as emergencies for the purpose of this attendance policy. Besides emergencies, the only other absences that won't affect your participation/preparation grade are excused absences. Please notify the instructor over email, in advance if possible and, if not, as soon after the absence as possible, if you wish an absence to be considered as an emergency or excused absence; the decision will be made at the instructor's discretion.

2. Online Participation. Please familiarize yourself with the college's Computer and Network Usage Policy in the University Catalog 2011-2012 and check with your instructor first before posting something to the course ANGEL space that is not directly related to the course.

3. Late Assignments. Online posts that are not well-timed with the course material and fail to spark other students' interest and responses will not count the same as well-timed posts or posts that do inspire further discussion. Late written assignments will not be accepted or graded. Only students who ask for an extension at least two days before the due date of any written project will be granted an extension.

4. Plagiarism and Academic Integrity. To plagiarize is "to steal and pass off as one's own the ideas or words of another" (Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary). SUNY Fredonia strongly condemns plagiarism and takes severe action against those who plagiarize. Disciplinary action may extend to suspension from privileges or expulsion from college. Please familiarize yourself with the college's Academic Integrity Policy in the University Catalog 2011-2012 and check with your instructor if you have any questions about it.

5. Students with Disabilities. If you have a documented disability, please contact our Office of Disability Support Services in the Learning Center at Reed Library.

6. Portable Electronic Devices. Please turn them off before you enter the class. If I see you using them while class is in session, I will hold onto them for you until we are done for the rest of the class. I will consider requests to use them for academic purposes.


M A I N * L I N K S



ENGL 216: Science Fiction, Spring 2012
Created: 1/24/12 12:12 pm
Last modified: 3/30/12 6:29 pm
Webmaster: Bruce Simon, Associate Professor of English, SUNY Fredonia
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