English 3840 Science Fiction

MW 1240-205 pm, Peck Hall 327

Fall 2010

100 Best SF Brian Attebery's Comments on the NBSF Stories Cyberpunk "A Letter from God" (by Ian Watson) The Norton Book of Science Fiction On Science On Space Reading Guides to the NBSF  Essay Guide  Sample Student Essays SF Authors SF Definitions SF Genres SF Lexicon SF on the Web Utopias and Dystopias Take-Home Final Exam

Dr. David Lavery

Office: PH 372 | Office Hours:  M: 205-400; T, TH: 300-420; other times by arrangement | E-mail: david.lavery@gmail.com | Office Phone/Voice-Mail: 615-898-5648 | Home Page: http://davidlavery.net


Dr. David Lavery is Professor of English at MTSU (1993- ). The author of over one hundred twenty published essays, chapters, and reviews, he is author / co-author / editor / co-editor of twenty three books, including Joss: A Creative Portrait of the Maker of the Whedonverses and The Essential Cult Television Reader. The organizer of international conferences on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Sopranos, a founding co-editor of the journals Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies and Critical Studies in Television, he has lectured around the world on the subject of television (Australia, Turkey, the UK, Portugal, New Zealand, Ireland, Germany) and has been a guest/source for the BBC, NPR, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, The New York Times, A Folha de Sao Paulo (Brazil), Publica (Portugal), Information (Netherlands), AP, The Toronto Star, USA Today. From 2006-2008, he taught at Brunel University in London.

Critical Essays You owe me two critical essays (not less than 1,000 words each) on science fiction subjects of your choice and approved by me. 

I will accept these papers at any time prior to or on the "drop dead" dates indicated below. Go here for some guidelines.

25%  each
Final Exam, Part One A take-home exam, consisting of a menu of topics, from which you will select two, responding with essay answers. These topics will all be "leading questions," intended to inspire your own comprehensive synthesis of course ideas, questions, problems. 20% of grade 20%
Final Exam, Part Two

An in-class cognitive-memory test, consisting of a variety of matching, identification, short answer questions (on authors, works, literary terms).  It will be a piece of cake for anyone who has been present and attentive in class throughout the semester. 20% of grade.

Class Participation Active involvement in class discussion. May include quiz grades. 10%

Manuscript form All written assignments must be word-processed and must be submitted in digital form, as a Microsoft Word or Rich Text attachment, either as an e-mail sent to david.lavery@gmail.com or via D2L. Please be sure to carefully edit and proofread your own work. Do not simply rely on your computer's spell checker. (Go here to read a poem that demonstrates the untrustworthiness of spell checkers.) A list of "Things to be Aware of" as you write your essays can be found here.
Reading Assignments You are responsible for having read the entirety of each assignment and keeping up with the required reading.
Participation & involvement Please come prepared for each day’s class. I encourage you to become an active participant in class discussion and to ask constructive and meaningful questions at all times--even when I appear to be "lecturing." I will interpret lack of participation as evidence that you are not reading and will respond with daily quizzes.
Plagiarism / Cheating The unacknowledged use of the words/ideas/ insights/ original research of another is, of course, prohibited. Should I catch you plagiarizing, or cheating in any way, you will receive a grade of "0" on the assignment in question, the violation may be reported to University authorities, and you may fail the course.
Students with Disabilities Any student with a disability will be given all the rights and privileges guaranteed under the Americans with Disabilities Act if he/she is registered with Disabled Student Services (call/contact John Harris, KUC 120/2783). 
University Writing Center:  The University Writing Center, sponsored by the English Department and staffed by full-time and adjunct faculty and graduate teaching assistants, is located in PH 326. At the UWC you can get constructive help with a variety of writing problems, from pre-writing to organization to grammatical errors. (Please be aware, however, that the UWC does not do proofreading.)
Grading Scale
90-99%=A 80-89%=B 70-79%=C 60-69%=D 0-59%=F



Ursula K. LeGuin & Brian Atteberry, The Norton Book of Science Fiction
Norton Book of Science Fiction
ed. LeGuin & Attebery
James Tiptree, Jr., Her Smoke Rose Up Forever
Click on a cover to order the book from Amazon.

Nota bene: All readings are in The Norton Book of Science Fiction text unless otherwise specified.

Class Meeting | Date | Subject | Readings/Viewings | Course Requirements

Week 1

1 | 8/30 | Introduction to the Course | Defining SF | SF Definitions Powerpoint

2 | 9/1 | SF Lit: "A Letter from God" | Defining SF (cont.)

Week 2

3 | 9/6 | Labor Day: No Class 

4 | 9/8 | SF Lit: Warlord of Saturn’s Moons, 305-12 | The Gernsback Continuum, 457-65 | Invaders, 830-50 | Silent Star Wars

Week 3

5 | 9/13 | SF Film and TV: Twilight Zone | Twilight Zone Power Point

6 | 9/15 | SF Lit: Over the River and Through the Woods, 125-32 | Frozen Journey, 386-401| Schrödinger’s Plague, 477-84

Week 4

7 | 9/20 | SF Film and TV | The Day the Earth Stood Still (Robert Wise, 1951) and Forbidden Planet (Fred M. Wilcox, 1956)| Day & Forbidden Power Point

8 | 9/22 | SF Lit: The World as We Know It, 485-500 | Speech Sounds, 513-24 | We See Things Differently, 762-79

Week 5

9 | 9/27 | SF Film and TV: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Philip Kaufman, 1978) | Read David Lavery's "Departure of the Body Snatchers, or the Confessions of a Carbon Chauvinist" | Invasion of the Body Snatchers Power Point

10 | 9/29 | SF Lit: Out of All Them Bright Stars, 647-53 | The Handler, 45-48 | Good News from the Vatican, 242-49 | Private War of Private Jacob, 300-304 

Week 6

11 | 10/4 | SF Film and TV: The Terminator Franchise | Terminator Franchise Power Point | All-Time Worldwide Box Office

12 | 10/6 | SF Lit: How Beautiful With Banners, 133-41 | Strange Wine, 350-56 | Nine Hundred Grandmothers, 142-50 | Feather Tigers, 280-86

Week 7

13 | 10/11 | SF Film and TV: Star Trek IV (Leonard Nimoy, 1986) or The Hidden (Jack Sholder, 1987) 

14 | 10/13 | SF Film and TV: Continued

Week 8

15 | 10/18 | Fall Break--No Class

16 | 10/20 | SF Lit: Distant Signals, 525-37 | Life of Anybody, 569-70 | The War at Home, 577-79 | Snow, 591-604 | Drop Dead Date for First Essay

Week 9

17 | 10/25 | SF Film and TV: The X-Files ("Jose Chung's From Outer Space") | X-Files Power Point | Lavery on The X-Files: "Generation X" | 50 Key TV Programmes | Encyclopedia of American Conspiracy Theory

18 | 10/26 |  SF Film and TV:  Lost | LOST Power Point


Week 10

19 | 11/1 | SF Film and TV:  Lost (continued)

20 | 11/3 | Gender and Science Fiction: Few Things . . .  About Whileaway, 337-49 | Start of the End of the World, 466-76 | When I Was Miss Dow, 151-60 | His Vegetable Wife, 628-32 | Griffin Power Point

Week 11

21 | 11/8 | SF Film and TV: The Matrix (The Wachowski Brothers, 1999)

22 | 11/10 | Cyberpunk: Rat, 654-64 | Stable Strategies for Middle Management, 705-15 | (Learning About) Machine Sex, 746-61 | Cyberpunk Power Point

Week 12

23 | 11/15 | SF Film and TV: Firefly and Serenity | Firefly on Castle | Firefly and Serenity Power Point

24 | 11/17 | SF Film and TV: Firefly and Serenity (continued)

Week 13

25 | 11/22 | SF Film and TV: Futurama and Mystery Science Theater 3000 | Futurama and MST3000 Power Point

26 | 11/24 | SF Film and TV: No class

11/25: Thanksgiving

Week 14

26 | 11/29 | Futurama and MST3000 (continued)

27 | 12/1 | James Tiptree, Jr.: Tiptree Power Point | "Magic Terminal Trip" | "The Girl Who Was Plugged In" (HSRUF 43); "The Women Men Don't See" (HSRUF 115) | "'This Wondrous Death': Erotic Power in the Science Fiction of James Tiptree, Jr."

Week 15

28 | 12/6 | Tiptree (continued): "Love is the Plan, the Plan is Death" (HSRUF 403); "On the Last Afternoon" (HSRUF 421); "A Momentary Taste of Being" (HSRUF 275)

29 | 12/8 | Tiptree (continued): "The Last Flight of Doctor Ain" (HSRUF 1); "The Screwfly Solution" (HSRUF 9) | Drop Dead Date for Second Essay

12/10-16 | Final Exam Week | Final Exam Part Two in Class: Monday, December 13th, 1230-230 | In-Class Exam Study Sheet | Final Exam Part One Due