Science Fiction and Fantasy -

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Neuromancer. Ace, 1984. Heinlein, Robert. Starship Troopers. Ace, 1987. Mathesen, Richard. I Am Legend. Tor, 1995. Miller, Frank. The Dark Knight Returns.
EngLt 392

Fall 2010

Science Fiction and Fantasy Instructor: Bob Lyman Office: D384

Phone: 916.484.8628

Email: [email protected]

Office Hours: TTh: Noon to 12: 25 pm, and by

appointment Class Web:


nglish 392 is a survey course that explores the rich and varied worlds of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Over the course of the semester, we will explore characteristic features from fairy tales, old Gothic, and Romantic literatures and see how those same features are used in some recent Cyberpunk and Anime. We will discuss the mythic structure of these literatures and investigate their possible psychological, social and political meanings. Although you will undoubtedly be familiar with some of the texts and movies we will discuss (some of which we have read and re-read countless times), we will play with new ways of seeing these stories. Of course I hope you will also find new stories that surprise and delight you as well.

Required Texts: Gibson, William. Neuromancer. Ace, 1984. Heinlein, Robert. Starship Troopers. Ace, 1987. Mathesen, Richard. I Am Legend. Tor, 1995. Miller, Frank. The Dark Knight Returns. DC Comics, 1997.

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Attendance and Class Etiquette: I expect you to attend class. More than three unexcused absences will likely result in you being dropped from the class; if the accumulated absences total more than three after the drop deadline, your course grade will, at the very least, be lowered by one full letter grade—more if the absences are excessive. Absences may only be excused according to school policy; if you anticipate missing class, please speak to me in advance to make arrangements for any assignments due that day. I also expect you to show up on time for class; coming to class late is both rude and disruptive. I take roll at the beginning of each class; if you are not present in the classroom when I take roll, I will mark you absent. If you miss a class, you are responsible for homework due on that day and for material covered in class—not I. Class assignments must be turned in the day they are due or before; late homework assignments will not be accepted! I expect students to behave appropriately in a college classroom. This means that we must at all times show respect for everyone in the class. Any disruptive behavior in the classroom may result in suspension and the possibility of being dropped from the course. For specific information refer to the official “Student Rights and Responsibilities” as established by the college.

Course Grade: Your grade in the course will be determined by a combination of two essays, a midterm exam, and a final exam. The breakdown of the course grade is as follows: Points Exams 250 Midterm—The Gothic 250 Final Papers 250 Midterm Paper 250 Final Paper—Your Choice 1000 Total

Help! Finally, I would like to offer a short word of advice. You sacrifice a great deal to attend school—time, effort and money; make the most of what you invest and USE the time I have scheduled for office hours. If the times I have listed at the top of this syllabus are not convenient for you, please talk to me or email me about making an appointment. And don’t wait to the end of the semester if you are having difficulties; a little time spent early in the semester may prevent a great many frustrations. Although I do check my voice mail, I am ALWAYS available by email. So if you are just too busy to come to office hours, you can email me with questions.

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English 392 Assignment Schedule Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17



8-24 8-26 Introduction to the course—Roots: Myth, Fairy Tales “Iron Hans,” MacDonald’s “The Gray Wolf,” and and the Gothic; Definition—Science Fiction vs Fantasy Simak’s “Over the River & Through the Woods” 8-31 Characteristics of Gothic Literature—Discuss Botting

9-2 from Frankenstein and Lovecraft’s “Colour Out of Space”

9-7 The Uncanny—Discuss Tatar, Freud’s concept of the personality, and Liminality

9-9 Terror and Horror—Discuss Poe’s “House of Usher,” Matheson’s “The Prey” and Bradbury’s “The Veldt”

9-14 The Hero’s Journey—Watch and discuss f8 and discuss both Russ’s “When It Changed” and Butler’s “Speech Sounds” 9-21 Discuss Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns

9-16 The Hero, cont.—Discuss Howard’s “The Tower of the Elephant,” Gore’s “The Wood” AND reading comics (McCloud) 9-23 The Dark Knight Returns

9-28 Gothic evolution—toward a contemporary definition of SciFi & Fantasy—LeGuin’s “Introduction”

9-30 Discuss midterm papers—mapping possible approaches

10-5 Discuss Matheson’s I Am Legend

10-7 I Am Legend

10-12 Creature Features—Discuss Butler’s “Bloodchild” and Charnas’s “Boobs”—the role of the Other

10-14 Midterm Midterm paper due

10-19 Discuss Heinlein’s Starship Troopers (Chpts 1-5)

10-21 Starship Troopers (Chpts 6-9)

10-26 Starship Troopers (Chpts 10-12)

10-28 Starship Troopers (Chpts 13-14)

11-2 Watch and discuss Screamers

11-4 Screamers

11-9 Discuss Springer’s “The Boy Who Plaited Manes,” Antieau’s “Sanctuary” and Anderson’s “The Old Man and the Cherry Tree” 11-16 Watch and discuss Metropolis

11-11 Manga & Anime Discuss Tatsumi’s “Rash”

11-23 Discuss Varley’s “Overdrawn at the Memory Bank”


11-30 Gibson—Neuromancer (Chapters 1-7)

12-2 Gibson— Neuromancer (Chapters 8-12)

12-7 Gibson— Neuromancer (Chapters 13-24)

12-9 Discuss final papers—mapping possible approaches


12-16 Course final—10:15 a. m. to 12:15 p.m. Final paper due


11-18 Metropolis

Thanksgiving Holiday—No Classes

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Midterm Paper— Texts: Bradbury, Ray. “The Veldt.” Butler, Octavia. “Speech Sounds.” Charnas, Suzy McKee. “Boobs.” MacDonald, George. “The Gray Wolf.” Miller, Frank. The Dark Knight Returns. Poe, Edgar Allan. “The Fall of the House of Usher.” Russ, Joanna. “When It Changed.” Simak, Clifford D. “Over the River and Through the Woods.”

Essay Assignment: For this essay, you will focus on the characteristics of the Gothic story to demonstrate the characteristics you see in one of the stories above. you should not try to demonstrate all of the Gothic characteristics, however; instead, find a single focus. You can, for instance, explore: •

the features of the architecture or landscape or both and their significance

liminality, and thus the blurring between reality and dreams or the distinction between the inner and outer worlds or the development of the Other

the barrier of unspeakableness—the failure of language

the ambivalent features that lead to an emotional excess, a distortion of the sublime, and the development of the uncanny

abyssal images and their psychological or social significance

You are free to include details from additional texts, but you must reference, develop and focus upon one of the texts from the list. Your paper must also make use of and give reference to the texts by Botting, Tatar, and the liminality handout; these sources will help you to develop the central focus of your paper. The paper should be formatted following normal MLA conventions; we will discuss MLA conventions, but having completed English 300, you should be familiar with these. And in answer to the first question that always gets asked with the assignment of an essay—How long does this paper have to be?—at least four pages (1000 words) and no longer than six (1500 words). The paper is due the day of the midterm. Please begin early and use me to help you set the paper up and develop it.

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Options for Independent Reading Assignment— Texts:

Bacigalupi, Paulo. The Windup Girl. Butler, Octavia E. Kindred. Butler, Octavia E. The Fledgling. Haldeman, Joe. The Forever War. Gaiman, Neil. American Gods. LeGuin, Ursula K. The Telling. Lem, Stanislaw. Solaris. Miller, Walter M. A Canticle for Leibowitz. Powers, Tim. The Stress of Her Regard.

Final Essay Assignment: For this second critical analysis paper, you can choose any title from the list above, but you will read this text independently and then compose an analytical response to the text. You can use any of the topics of our discussions to find a controlling focus, so you can choose to do a psychoanalytical read of the protagonist, a mythical read of the plot, or an exploration of major themes. The approach you take is really up to you; all I insist upon is that you analyze your response: explain how you see, why you see, and in what specific way you see your insights revealed in the novel. Additionally, your paper must include at least two researched references to other authors—perhaps critics who have written about your author or novel, perhaps research on a key element of your paper. You can use the internet for these references, but the internet does not normally provide good sources for this kind of paper, and you run the risk of a weak paper as a result. I would suggest using the literary database available at the library—you could even ask a librarian for some help with this. The paper should be formatted following normal MLA conventions. We will discuss both the library databases and MLA format in class. Again in answer to the “How long does this paper have to be?” question—at least five pages (1250 words) and no longer than seven (1750 words). The paper is not due until the day of the final, so you can (and should) be working on during the semester. Please begin early and use me to help you set the paper up and develop it.

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