The full syllabus is available here: syllabus.pdf.


Thursday, September 3. Introduction.

  • Suvin, “On the Poetics of the Science Fiction Genre.”
  • Rieder, Science Fiction and the Mass Cultural Genre System, chap. 1.
  • Optional: Delany, “Aye, and Gomorrah….”

Thursday, September 10. Cultural capital.

  • Guillory, Cultural Capital, preface and chap. 1.
  • Lamont and Lareau, “Cultural Capital.”
  • Bourdieu, “The Forms of Capital.”

Thursday, September 17. Emergence (1): scientific romance.

  • Luckhurst, Science Fiction, chaps. 1–2.
  • Wells, The Time Machine (1895).
  • Browse periodical contexts for the earliest versions of The Time Machine in the references on the course website at

Thursday, September 24. Emergence (2): pulps.

  • Look through at least the two earliest numbers of Amazing Stories on the Pulp Magazines Project. Read editorial paratexts, and pay attention to advertisements. Read:
    • Wertenbaker, “The Man From the Atom.” The sequel, in Amazing 1, no. 2, is optional. As for circulation, consider this story’s first appearance in Science and Invention 11, no. 4 (August 1923).
    • Wells, “The New Accelerator.” Consider this story’s first appearance in the Strand 22, no. 132 (December 1901).
  • Stone, “The Conquest of Gola” (1931). Read around in this issue of Wonder Stories.
  • Look through the August 1938 issue of Astounding Science-Fiction on the Pulp Magazines Project. Read, collected from later issues:
    • Asimov, “Reason” (ASF, April, 1941).
    • Asimov, “Runaround” (ASF, March, 1942). First in fabula order.
  • Luckhurst, Science Fiction, chap. 3.

Thursday, October 1. Cliques and critique.

  • Pohl and Kornbluth, The Space Merchants (1953).
  • Luckhurst, Science Fiction, chap. 5.
  • Look through Galaxy on the Internet Archive:
    • In the first number (October, 1950), read the introductory editorial, the back cover, and look carefully at ads.
    • Consider the periodical context for Gravy Planet, Galaxy 4, nos. 3–5 (June–August, 1952).
  • Cheng, Astounding Wonder, chap. 7.

Thursday, October 8. Renovation.

  • Le Guin, The Dispossessed (1974), at least through chap. 7.
  • Le Guin, “American SF and the Other.”
  • Jameson, “World Reduction in Le Guin.”
  • Ellison, introduction to Dangerous Visions.
  • Ballard, “Which Way To Inner Space?” and Ballard, “Fictions of Every Kind.”
  • Smith, “Women Science Fiction Writers Don’t Sell.”
  • Delany, “To Read The Dispossessed” (1976) (excerpts).

Thursday, October 15. Specific forms of consecration.

  • Le Guin, The Dispossessed, complete.
  • Le Guin, “A Response, by Ansible, from Tau Ceti.”
  • Le Guin’s awards:
    • Franson and DeVore, Hugo, Nebula, and International Fantasy Awards.
    • Gunn, Nebula Award Stories Ten, introduction and 249–54. Optional: Le Guin’s story about Odo, “The Day Before the Revolution.”
    • Watch at least the first four minutes of Le Guin’s AussieCon Guest of Honor speech (1975).
    • Watch the recording of Neil Gaiman’s presentation of the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the National Book Awards (2014) and Le Guin’s acceptance speech (or read the latter).
    • English, The Economy of Prestige, introduction and chap. 3.
    • Streitfeld, “Literary Lions Unite.”
    • Streitfeld, “Writing Nameless Things.”
  • Le Guin in the Library of America:
    • Le Guin, Hainish Novels & Stories, 1067–81 (chronology up to 2017).
    • Browse: pages on the website of the Library of America devoted to Le Guin, including the author page.
  • Luckhurst, Science Fiction, chap. 8.

Thursday, October 22. Coolness and cyberpunk.

  • Gibson, Burning Chrome, selections:
    • The preface by Bruce Sterling.
    • “Source Code: An Introduction” (2002).
    • “The Gernsback Continuum” (1981).
    • “Johnny Mnemonic” (1981).
    • “Burning Chrome” (1982).
  • Gibson, “Time Machine Cuba.”
  • Luckhurst, Science Fiction, chap. 9.
  • Materials on Gibson’s early reception (thanks to Suzanne Boswell):
    • Gomoll, “An Open Letter to Joanna Russ,” and Sterling, letter to the editor, in reply.
    • Adam, “Cyberhero.”
    • Gibson, “Cyberspace ’90.”
    • Jennings, “New Wave Science Fiction.”
    • Carter, “Inside Science Fiction Publishing.” The whole section on “Science Fiction Today” (41–76) is of interest.

Thursday, October 29. Butler: what is an (SF) author?

  • Butler, The Parable of the Sower (1993), at least through chap. 17.
  • Wilson, Clarion, introduction.
  • Two news articles on Butler’s 1995 MacArthur grant:
    • Griest, “A Grab Bag Of Geniuses.”
    • Streitfeld, “A Life Apart.”
  • Rowell, “An Interview with Octavia E. Butler.”
  • Butler, “Positive Obsession.” Compare the fragmentary scan of the essay’s original appearance in Essence 20, no. 1 (May 1989).
  • Canavan, Octavia E. Butler, chaps. 1, 6.

Thursday, November 5. Butler’s centrality.

  • Butler, The Parable of the Sower, complete. Read the materials at the back of the book.
  • Kilgore and Samantrai, “A Memorial to Octavia E. Butler.”
  • Thomas, Dark Matter, table of contents and introduction; browse “Contributors.”
  • Batty, review of Dark Matter and Whisphers from the Cotton Tree Root, 209–13.
  • In and around Imarishah and brown, Octavia’s Brood:
    • Sheree Renée Thomas, foreword.
    • Walidah Imarishah, introduction.
    • Tananarive Due, “The Only Lasting Truth.”
    • Acknowledgments.
    • The anthology’s indiegogo crowfunding page.
  • Final paper abstracts due on course blog.

Thursday, November 12. Canon and empire.

  • Zahn, Heir to the Empire (1991).
  • Familiarize yourself with the problem of the canon by reading the following in Wookieepedia: the plot synopses of Episodes IV–VII (sic): A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, The Return of the Jedi, and The Force Awakens; “Star Wars Legends”; “Canon.”
  • Optionally, watch The Force Awakens (2015; requires paid subscription to Disney+).
  • Guynes, “Publishing the New Jedi Order.” The interview with senior media-studies scholar Henry Jenkins in the same volume is also interesting as a reception document.

Thursday, November 19. Omnivores at the SF Buffet.

(Thursday, November 26. Thanksgiving.)

(Monday, November 30.)

  • Preliminary writing on final paper due on Sakai, building on paper abstract for course blog.

Thursday, December 3. SF and the globe.

  • Okorafor, Lagoon (2014). Consider the following contexts for the novel:
    • Smith, “Crisis in Nigeria as President Drops Out of View.”
    • Browse the Language Varieties website page on Naijá.
  • Glimpses of Nigerian reception:
    • Onwualu, “Why We Need to Hear Stories.”
    • Okorafor, “Nnedi Okorafor Wins the Wole Soyinka Prize.”
  • Glimpses of US reception: us and:
    • Dobbs, “Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon.”
    • Optional: Marquis, “The Alien Within.”

Thursday, December 10.

  • Research presentations.

Friday, January 15, at 4:30 p.m.

  • Final paper due to the graduate office via Sakai. Please send me a copy as well.