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Science and Literature

ENGL 075.401
instructor(s):
fulfills requirements:
Elective of the Standard Major

Science fiction has become the mythology of modern technological civilization. In this course, we will explore its emergence as a genre and the ways it has reflected our evolving conceptions of ourselves and the universe, examining such characteristic themes as utopias, time travel, superman, robots, aliens, and other worlds—and the differences between European and American treatment of these themes. The course is structured chronologically and thematically around a series of classic SF novels and short stories (available for purchase at the Penn Book Center). Monday and Wednesday lectures will set the works in historical, scientific, thematic, and cultural context. Friday sections will provide the opportunity for in-depth comparative discussion. Five guest lectures by distinguished philosophers, sociologists, and historians will explore the broader import of SF.