Science Fiction Part I

Science Fiction, Part 1

Join award-winning scholar Dr. Amy H. Sturgis as she explores the ways in which the literature of science fiction over time has asked the question: “What if?”

DURATION: 12 Weeks
ID: LITB 5301

Disclaimer: The information on this page is provided as an overview. The course outline, readings, and assignments may be subject to change in the final syllabus as determined by the lecturer and/or preceptors.


Amy H. Sturgis
Visiting Lecturer
Maggie Parke
Maggie Parke
Mythgard Institute Director; Lecturer; Preceptor;
Erin Aust
Admissions Coordinator; Preceptor

What are the origins of Science Fiction as literature? Why is Science Fiction important? How did it evolve over time?

What does it mean to be human? Are we alone? What wonders or terrors will tomorrow hold? Join award-winning scholar Dr. Amy H. Sturgis as she explores the ways in which the literature of science fiction over time has asked the question: “What if?” This course will consider the development of the genre from “proto-SF” writings through the Golden Age, with an eye toward how the great works and movements within science fiction both reflect the concerns and attitudes of their time and imagine beyond them. Discover why author Ray Bradbury called science fiction “the most important literature in the history of the world.”

Course Schedule

Week 1 – Proto-Science Fiction, Frankenstein, and the Birth of Modern SF

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)

Week 2 – Ratiocination, Technology, and the Growth of the Genre

  • “Rappaccini’s Daughter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1844)
  • “The Diamond Lens” by Fitz-James O’Brien (1858)
  • “Mellonta Tauta” by Edgar Allan Poe (1859)

Week 3 – Jules Verne and the Scientific Romance

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (1870)

Week 4 – H.G. Wells and the Science Fiction Parable

  • The Time Machine by H.G. Wells (1895)
  • “The Machine Stops” by E.M. Forster (1909)

Week 5 – Utopia, Dystopia, and Lost Worlds

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (1924)

Week 6 – The Pulps, The Editors, and Scientifiction

  • “The Colour Out of Space” by H.P. Lovecraft (1927)
  • Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell (1938)
  • “Nightfall” by Isaac Asimov (1941)

Week 7 – Early SF, Gender, and the Rise of Fandom

  • “First Contact” by Murray Leinster (1945)
  • Vintage Season by C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner (1946)
  • “That Only A Mother” by Judith Merril (1948)

Week 8 – World War II and Its Aftermath

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury (1950)

Week 9 – Science Fiction, the Frontier, and the Young Adult Reader

  • “The Sentinel” by Arthur C. Clarke (1951)
  • “The Cold Equations” by Tom Godwin (1954)
  • “Fondly Fahrenheit” by Alfred Bester (1954)

Week 10 – Science Fiction Film and Television

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr. (1960)

Week 11 – Science Fiction Goes Epic

Dune by Frank Herbert (1965)

Week 12 – Robert Heinlein and the Golden Age

The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein (1966)

Required Texts

* linked title is strongly suggested edition

Course History

This course has been offered in the following semesters.

Science Fiction, Part I Offerings
Summer 2018Maggie Parke, Erin Aust
Fall 2014Jessica O’Brien, Afton Woodward
Fall 2012Jessica O’Brien

Course Artwork

Course artwork adapted from an original illustration by Elia Mervi. Used with permission. All rights reserved.