Exploring Star Trek

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.

Now in its sixth decade, the multimedia Star Trek franchise has engaged the imaginations of generations of fans. Star Trek creators have refined many of the ingredients of Star Trek storytelling over the years, including using the metaphors of science fiction to both wrestle with timeless moral dilemmas and philosophical questions and also make timely critiques of political and social problems. Other aspects of Star Trek, such as its optimistic (even utopian) vision of the future, have been complicated and revised from time to time. This course will explore how Star Trek has changed science fiction and popular culture not only through producing hit TV series, films, novels, games, and merchandise, but also by precedent-setting global fan participation in the form of fan campaigns, conventions, and transformative works (fan fiction, film, cosplay, etc.). How does each installment of the Star Trek story embody the hopes and fears of the time in which it was made? How has the imagination, innovation, and diversity displayed in Star Trek changed our reality today and kept (or perhaps failed to keep) the franchise relevant? How has Star Trek storytelling evolved, and where will it go next? These are some of the questions we will consider as we boldly go where no Signum University class has gone before.

Special Note: New York Times bestselling author Una McCormack will be a special guest for one meeting of this class. McCormack is the author of multiple Star Trek works, including Star Trek Discovery: The Way to the Stars (2019), Star Trek Picard: The Last Best Hope (2020), and The Autobiography of Kathryn Janeway (2020), as well as the following Star Trek Deep Space Nine novels: Prophecy and Change (2003), Worlds of Star Trek Deep Space Nine Volume 1: Cardassia (2004), Hollow Men (2005), The Never-Ending Sacrifice (2009), Typhon Pact: Brinksmanship (2012), The Fall: Crimson Shadow (2013), The Missing (2014), and Enigma Tales (2017).

Weekly Schedule

This course includes two live 90-minute lectures per week with one 60-minute discussion session as assigned.

Course Schedule

Week 1: Why should we explore Star Trek?

Week 2: The Original Series (1965-1969)

Week 3: The Rise of Fandom and the Animated Series (1968-1974)

Week 4: The Next Generation (1987-1994)

Week 5: The Film Franchise (1979-2002)

Week 6: Deep Space 9 (1993-1999)

Week 7: Multimedia Storytelling and Transformative Works (1967-present)

Week 8: Voyager (1995-2001)

Week 9: Enterprise (2001-2005)

Week 10: The Kelvin Timeline (2009-2016)

Week 11: Discovery (2016-present)

Week 12: Picard and Beyond (2020-present)

Required Texts

Additional short texts will be linked to or provided by the professor. The Amazon links are provided for convenience only, and we encourage students to purchase texts wherever they wish.


TV series (select episodes will be required viewing during the week as each series is explored in depth):

  • Star Trek: The Original Series
  • The Animated Series
  • The Next Generation
  • Deep Space Nine
  • Voyager
  • Enterprise
  • Discovery
  • Picard


  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (recommended)
  • Star Trek: First Contact
  • Star Trek (2009)
  • Star Trek: Into Darkness

Course History

This course has been offered in the following semesters.

Summer 2021Dr. Sara Brown & Jessica O’Brien

Amy Sturgis boldly takes Signum where it’s never gone before: into Star Trek!

START: May 10, 2021

DURATION: 12 Weeks

ID: LITB 5311