Through this coming weekend and beginning of next week the syllabus will come to live here, and the first of our class presentations will too. Some bits of the syllabus will remain yet to do deliberately. I want to meet with you all personally and, since we have a nice seminar-sized class, tailor the course to your special interests.
BUT WE HAVE TWO READINGS TO DO FOR THE FIRST DAY and our very first discussion! A story and a author view of writing and thinking about SF.
• I came across this story on facebook not too long ago. I have posted a screen shot to the site where you can read it. (Lots of graphics posted here will also be links as this one is. Be sure to check to see.)
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER AND COME WITH IDEAS TO SHARE ABOUT:
How does this story fit into your ideas of SF? Does it violate any of your assumptions about SF? If so, which ones? Is it a feminist story? How can you tell? (are you a "lumper" or a "splitter"? Do you know what that means?) ???
Le Guin, U. (1989). “The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction." In Dancing at the Edge of the World: Thoughts on Words, Women, Places. Grove. (on website) Remember to click pics! And notice that I think the Wikipedia is very useful for popular culture, among other things. And I do believe in citation as well!
And what's this? come in with ideas about it to share!!!
And these are the books for the course we will all read in common:
• sf ecologies:
"The Secret Feminist Cabal is an extended answer to the question Helen Merrick asks in her introduction: ''why do I read feminist sf?'' In this wide-ranging cultural history we are introduced to a multiplicity of sf feminisms as Merrick takes readers on a tour of the early days of sf fandom, tracks the upheavals of the 1950s and 1960s and the explosions of feminist sf in the 1970s, and contextualizes subsequent developments in feminist sf scholarship. Her history is expansive and inclusive: it ranges from North America to the UK to Australia; it tells us about readers, fans, and academics as well as about writers, editors, and publishers; and it examines the often uneasy intersections of feminist theory and popular culture. Merrick brings things up to date with considerations of feminist cyberfiction and feminist science and technology studies, and she concludes with an intriguing review of the Tiptree Award as it illuminates current debates in the feminist sf community. Broadly informed, theoretically astute, and often revisionary, The Secret Feminist Cabal is an indispensable social and cultural history of the girls who have been plugged into science fiction. --Vernoica Hollinger, ed. Edging into the Future"
Phillips. 2007. James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon. Picador. 9780312426941.
"James Tiptree, Jr., burst onto the science fiction scene in the late 1960s with a series of hard-edged, provocative stories. He redefined the genre with such classics as Houston, Houston, Do You Read? and The Women Men Don't See. For nearly ten years he wrote and carried on intimate correspondences with other writers--Philip K. Dick, Harlan Ellison, and Ursula K. Le Guin, though none of them knew his true identity. Then the cover was blown on his alter ego: "he" was actually a sixty-one-year-old woman named Alice Bradley Sheldon. A feminist, she took a male name as a joke--and found the voice to write her stories. Based on extensive research, exclusive interviews, and full access to Alice Sheldon's papers, Julie Phillips has penned a biography of a profoundly original writer and a woman far ahead of her time. -- Google books"
Johnson. 2006. Everything Bad is Good for You. Riverhead. 978-1594481949. Also available on the Kindle, as a Google eBook, and as an audiobook.
"The heart of Johnson's argument is something called the Sleeper Curve--a universe of popular entertainment that trends, intellectually speaking, ever upward, so that today's pop-culture consumer has to do more "cognitive work"--making snap decisions and coming up with long-term strategies in role-playing video games, for example, or mastering new virtual environments on the Internet-- than ever before. Johnson makes a compelling case that even today's least nutritional TV junk food–the Joe Millionaires and Survivors so commonly derided as evidence of America's cultural decline--is more complex and stimulating, in terms of plot complexity and the amount of external information viewers need to understand them, than the Love Boats and I Love Lucys that preceded it. When it comes to television, even (perhaps especially) crappy television, Johnson argues, "the content is less interesting than the cognitive work the show elicits from your mind." Johnson's work has been controversial, as befits a writer willing to challenge wisdom so conventional it has ossified into accepted truth. But even the most skeptical readers should be captivated by the intriguing questions Johnson raises, whether or not they choose to accept his answers. --Erica C. Barnett"
• sf textualities:
"So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction & Fantasy is an anthology of original new stories by leading African, Asian, South Asian, and Aboriginal authors, as well as North American and British writers of colour. Stories of imagined futures abound in Western writing. Writer and editor Nalo Hopkinson notes that the science fiction/fantasy genre "speaks so much about the experience of being alienated, but contains so little writing by alienated people themselves." It's an oversight that Hopkinson and [Uppinder] Mehan aim to correct with this anthology. The wealth of postcolonial literature has included many who have written insightfully about their pasts and presents. With So Long Been Dreaming they creatively address their futures. With an introduction [actually cover blurb] by Hugo and Nebula Award-winner Samuel R. Delany. Contributors to So Long Been Dreaming are Opal Palmer Adisa, Celu Amberstone, Ven Begamudre, Tobias S. Buckell, Wayde Compton, Andrea Hairston, Maya Khankhoje, Tamai Kobayashi, Larissa Lai, Karin Lowachee, devorah major, Suzette Mayr, Carole McDonnell, Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, Eden Robinson, Nisi Shawl, Vandana Singh, Sheree R. Thomas, and Greg van Eekhout. -- Google books."
"A perfect introduction for new readers and a must-have for avid fans, this New York Times Notable Book includes “Bloodchild,” winner of both the Hugo and the Nebula awards and “Speech Sounds,” winner of the Hugo Award. Appearing in print for the first time, “Amnesty” is a story of a woman aptly named Noah who works to negotiate the tense and co-dependent relationship between humans and a species of invaders. Also new to this collection is “The Book of Martha” which asks: What would you do if God granted you the ability—and responsibility—to save humanity from itself? -- Seven Stories Press."
"Living in an altered past that never saw the end of the Great Depression, Jeannine, a librarian, is waiting to be married. Joanna lives in a different version of reality: she's a 1970s feminist trying to succeed in a man's world. Janet is from Whileaway, a utopian earth where only women exist. And Jael is a warrior with steel teeth and catlike retractable claws, from an earth with separate-and warring-female and male societies. When these four women meet, the results are startling, outrageous, and subversive. -- Beacon."