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.
Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-2018) described herself as “A Citizen of Mondath,” that country of the imagination where live the storytellers, the mythmakers, and the singers. In this survey of her works, we will study Le Guin’s own use of story, myth, and song to build unique worlds at the heart of her fiction: the far-flung Hainish Universe, the intimate islands of Earthsea, the disparate states of the Western Shore, and others. We will examine her literary theories of science fiction and fantasy as vehicles for myth, archetype, and character, and as locations for the exploration of gender, politics, the environment, race, culture, religion, and power. Finally, we will examine how her views evolved over time as she revisited and re-visioned the worlds she had built, and how her legacy empowers other authors to build worlds of their own.
Special Note: Robert Steed, PhD, Professor of Humanities at Hawkeye Community College, will give a special guest lecture during Week 9 of this course. Steed specializes in the study of Chinese religions, particularly Daoism, and Asian religions more generally. His research and teaching interests extend to religion and popular culture, medieval and world Christianity, mysticism, religion and art, and mythopoeic art, especially that of J.R.R. Tolkien, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Miyazaki Hayao.
This course includes two live 90-minute lectures per week with one 60-minute discussion session as assigned.
Week 1: A Citizen of Mondath
- Le Guin’s biography
- Early world-building
Week 2: The Hainish Cycle I: Beginnings
- “Myth and Archetype in Science Fiction”
- The early Hainish Cycle writings
Week 3: The Hainish Cycle II: Gender
- The Left Hand of Darkness
- Gender revisited
Week 4: The Hainish Cycle III: Politics
- The Dispossessed
- Politics in Le Guin’s writings
Week 5: The Hainish Cycle IV: The Environment
- The environment in Le Guin’s writings
- The Word for World is Forest
Week 6: New Wave SF
- Le Guin and the New Wave Science Fiction
- The Lathe of Heaven
Week 7: The Books of Earthsea I: Power
- The early Earthsea writings
- A Wizard of Earthsea
Week 8: The Books of Earthsea II: Race and Culture
- Race & culture in Le Guin’s writings
- The Tombs of Atuan
Week 9: The Books of Earthsea III: Religion
- Religion in Le Guin’s writings
- The Farthest Shore
Week 10: The Books of Earthsea IV: Feminism
- Feminism in Le Guin’s writings
Week 11: The Books of Earthsea V: Later Re-visions
- The Other Wind
- Tales from Earthsea
Week 12: Other Worlds
- Late world-building, and the Annals of the Western Shore series
- “Omelas” and Le Guin’s literary legacy
Note: Students may use any edition of the following texts.
- Required Texts:
- The Hainish Cycle
- The Lathe of Heaven (1971)
- The Books of Earthsea
- Powers (Annals of the Western Shore Book 3) (2007)
- The Wind’s Twelve Quarters (1975)
- Optional Texts (not required):
- Suggested Edition:
- Single-volume Library of America edition of Annals of the Western Shore (includes Gifts, Voices, and Powers)
Further readings will be provided by the course instructors in the final syllabus.
This Course has been offered in the following semesters.
|Fall 2021||Dr. Sara Brown & Dr. Brenton Dickieson|