Science Fiction, Fall 2019/Lesson 5

From Gerald R. Lucas
Syllabus R1 R2 R3 L1 L2 L3 L4 L5 L6 L7 L8 L9 L10  
86228 humn 4460.01 Online Fall, 2019

Tiptree & Black Mirror
September 23–September 27


This week, we look at two texts that consider the implications of getting too intimate with technology: James Tiptree, Jr.’s “The Girl Who Was Plugged In” and the Black Mirror episode “The Entire History of You.” How do human emotions interface with binary code? Is our evolution compatible with perfect memory or a perfect body? Does technology make us something other than human?

We will also continue our work on Wikipedia by learning more about sourcing.

Wikipedia Project Considerations

Over the past few weeks, you have become more familiar with the workings of Wikipedia and seen articles for several of the texts and thinkers in new media. This week, I ask you to have a look at the available articles on the WikiEdu dashboard and start to think about which you might want to work on as your semester project (see R1). You needn’t decide right now, but you should begin to get an idea during this lesson. Note, too, a couple of the stories in the later lessons don’t have Wikipedia articles yet,[1] so these would be excellent choices for your project. You could even work collaboratively to author a new article.[2]

Notice that there are two types of articles: authors and stories/TV episodes. I have tried to include all available articles in need of editing. You will want to choose something that you’re interested in doing more research on — equivalent to a research paper. You might even start a preliminary annotated bibliography in your Wikipedia sandbox.[3]

Next, find something about editing or contributing to Wikipedia that you did not know and try it out in your next journal post.

Read and View

Read “The Girl Who Was Plugged In” and watch “The Entire History of You,” taking notes as you do. Note character names, dominant themes, motifs, symbols, and important passages. Where do these important aspects of the text appear? After a first read, try to find at least one secondary text[4] that addresses these texts on the Internet or in Galileo.[5] You might also check YouTube. Read or watch the criticism and take notes.

Journal Post 9

Research and write about any aspect of either text, incorporating your initial research. Be sure to cite correctly and that you give your post a unique title and date.

Journal Post 10

Compare any aspect — character, theme, symbol — of the two texts. How do they complement each other? What does one say about the other? Is there a characteristic that both protagonists (antagonists) share? Your goal here is to find connections between the two texts. Again, be sure to support your ideas with at least one source, cited correctly. Date and title your post.


Reply to at least two different colleagues’ posts.

Due Date

Please have all of the above completed by Sunday, September 29, 2019. I will evaluate your this lesson the following day, email everyone a progress report, and post audio feedback at the top of the next lesson if necessary.


  1. Specifically Pratt’s “Impossible Dreams,” Liu’s “Staying Behind,” and Sterling’s “Maneki Neko.”
  2. The best way to begin this process is by creating a draft. I’m happy to assist with this process.
  3. Just click “Sandbox” in the upper-right of the Wikipedia widow when you are logged in. There is no correct or incorrect way to do this, but a strong approach is to list a source using the correct Wikipedia citation template, then give a brief synopsis of the source. You might see this critical bibliography for an example.
  4. It would be helpful to begin with their respective Wikipedia entries that I linked above, but these should not be cited as sources.
  5. Obviously, the latter is better.
  6. External sources are always footnoted as references; Wikipedia entries are always just linked in the text. Never cite a Wikipedia article like you would an external source.