Short-Form Science Fiction, Fall 2019
|86590||humn 1011.01||mw 9:30–10:45||coas-206||Fall, 2019|
The short story has been a mainstay in literature for centuries, but arguably no other genre has benefited more from this form than science fiction. This course will examine short-form science fiction in stories, television, and films.
|NMAC 1011: Perspectives on Genre Fiction|
|Description||Classroom work will examine and discuss texts in a particular genre and consider how these texts represent cultural concerns. The course offers an opportunity for students to apply critical thinking skills to genre fiction and to gain experience in developing and presenting original arguments in oral forms.|
|Area B||This is an Area B course that develops key competencies in critical thinking and oral communication through an introduction to genre fiction, which may include speculative, horror, fantastic, romantic, crime, or science fiction. The course includes an online Critical Thinking and Oral Communication (CTOC) component.|
|Lecture Hours||4 hours|
- 1 Instructor Information
- 2 Course Information
- 3 Required Texts
- 4 Policies
- 5 Requirements
- 6 Schedule
- 7 Notes
|Gerald R. Lucas|
|Office||CoAS-117 (Macon campus)|
|Office Hours||See Contact|
|gerald.lucas [at] mga [dot] edu|
I try to make myself as available as much as possible during the first couple weeks of a semester, including evenings and weekends. If you need to chat with me, email me and we’ll arrange a video conference via Skype (or similar service), if necessary. Please do not expect a response after 5pm on weekdays or anytime during the weekend. I may be available, but I also need some down time. Thanks for your understanding.
- To develop and enhance the students’ critical and analytical ability to read and understand various short-form science fiction texts and their contexts and significance through and variety of pedagogical strategies.
- To develop and enhance the students’ ability to think critically and creatively and to write and to speak effectively about the arts and culture.
Course Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)
- Students will assimilate, analyze and present thoughts and opinions in oral forms.
- Students will demonstrate the abilities to analyze, or interpret evidence or arguments, in order to formulate and support new arguments or solve problems.
- Students will demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between television and society.
There are no required textbooks for this course. However, several PDFs and online articles will make up the class readings. All texts are available via Google Drive; request access by entering your MGA email address. Additional small fees might be incurred to purchase or to rent videos and texts for certain lessons. I will try to keep these expenses to a minimum . A subscription to a video streaming service, like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime, might be worth your time for the semester. Most give free trial periods or discounts for students.
Your course book(s) or readings should always accompany you to class, as we will make heavy use of them in our daily discussions. Please do not come to class without it: we need the book for class activities, in-class writing, and all aspects of our study. PDFs must be printed if they are used in class. Failure to do so will earn you an absence.
You should also bring an ink interface of some sort, as well as dead trees on which to take notes. Notes should not only reflect good listening skills, but individual interest in every topic discussed in class.
Students are held accountable for knowing and practicing each of the following course policies. Consider them like the law: the excuse “I didn’t know” will carry no weight. In addition, students are responsible for reading, understanding, and adhering to all Middle Georgia State University student policies, including those linked on the Syllabus Policy page.
Students may withdraw from the course and earn a grade of “W” up to and including the midterm date. After midterm, students who withdraw will receive a grade of “WF.” Students are encouraged to read the withdrawal policy before dropping/withdrawing from class.
Assignments and Deadlines
Your work represents you. Everything you turn in for evaluation should exemplify the very best of your professional self. Late work is unacceptable and will receive a zero. Technical problems do not excuse late work. Plan ahead and turn in your work on time. Last-minute work submissions are ineligible for revision for a higher grade.
Poor attendance will negatively affect your grade. You must endeavor to attend every class, and it is your responsibility to ask a fellow classmate what you missed; in-class assignments, like quizzes, cannot be made up. Too many absences will constitute class failure. Please read the attendance policy carefully.
Communication is integral to success, no matter what we’re talking about. In a digital world, these literacies are particularly important. Not only should you develop and perfect your communication skills while in college, you need to use those skills everyday with your peers and professors.
Evaluation depends on overall student performance: depending on the successful completion of all requirements, participation, and attitude. Some requirements are weighed heavier in evaluation, but all are essential to successfully complete the class. Letter grades are based upon a traditional ten-point scale. Grades for this class will be based on the point system.
Willful or accidental plagiarism will result in automatic failure of this class (with a grade of an “F”) and will be pursued to incite the utmost penalty for such dishonesty. Academic falsehood, in any form, will constitute class failure.
All writing in this course should be supported with both primary (readings I assign you) and secondary (sources you find yourself) texts. All suppositions must be supported with evidence, whether they appear on a forum post, a blog post, a Wikipedia article, or class discussion. In other words: research is an integral component of everything you do in this course. Any ideas that are not supported might as well not be written.
|Critical Thinking Paper||25%|
|Critical Thinking Assignment||10%|
HUMN 1011 addresses key competencies in Area B. Therefore, it has the following requirements — all of which must be passed in order for students to successfully complete the course.
Regular class attendance and active participation in classroom discussion are required. Some assignments will occasionally count for participation: online discussions, training, exercises, library tasks, short writing responses, reading quizzes, peer editing, the viewing of a film, and similar activities. Your participation in group activities and your preparation for class will be weighed heavily in evaluation: participation, effort, and attitude will count significantly. You should not sit in class like you’re watching TV: learning requires active participation and enthusiasm .
Critical Thinking Paper
This essay will be a comparative analysis of two texts we cover in class this semester. It will choose a theme, character, or symbol and critically analyze how it operates in two of the course texts by examining distinct parallels between those texts. In other words the paper will answer the question: how does an examination of this key theme (character or symbol) help with a critical understanding of these two texts? This paper will use the “Critical Thinking Rubric” in evaluation.
Critical Thinking Assignment
Students will be asked to write a proposal for the Critical Thinking Paper that will be due before midterm; this proposal will count as your “Critical Thinking Assignment.”
Middle Georgia State University does key assessments of Critical Thinking and Oral Communications (COTC) skills in Area B courses such as this one. This requirement includes the COTC units integrated into D2L and a separate critical thinking writing assignment— each worth 10% of the final grade. More information will follow in class.
Oral Presentation (15%)
Middle Georgia State University does key assessments of Critical Thinking and Oral Communications skills in Area B courses such as this one. This formal, fifteen-minute presentation will be based on the critical thinking paper outlined above. More information will follow in class. See the “Speech Evaluation Rubric.”
Since reading is a key component of our class, be sure you’re doing your best to comprehend what you read. Consider following these strategies in “7 Ways to Retain More of Every Book You Read.”
This schedule represents the ideal outline for our study this semester. Yet, like all best-laid plans, we may not be able to keep up with our agenda. Please be flexible and try to look and read ahead whenever possible. We will do our best to stick by this schedule, but I will inform you verbally whenever there is a change in or an addition to an assignment. Getting these updates is solely your responsibility. Therefore, this schedule is tentative and subject to change contingent upon the needs of the students and the professor, and dictated by time and other constraints which may affect the course. This schedule reflects only an overview of the assigned reading and other major course assignments. It may not indicate specific class session assignments or activities. Specific assignments are often given in class.
|1||08/14||Class Begins • Introduction • Read: “Writing in the Liberal Arts”; Student Start Page, links, and syllabus.|
|2||08/19||Read: Some Views of Science Fiction; Le Guin “Intro to the Norton Book of SF” (PDF); Ballard “Which Way to Innerspace” (PDF) • Research: “Science Fiction” (you can start on Wikipedia) and bring what you find out to class for discussion|
|08/21||View: “The Value of Science Fiction” and “Brave New Worlds: The Science Fiction Phenomenon”|
|3||08/26||Read: John Cheever “The Swimmer” (PDF)|
|08/28||View: Chris Marker “La Jetée” • Complete: CTOC Unit One: Elements of Critical Thinking|
|4||09/02||Labor Day - No class — Complete: CTOC Unit Two: Evaluating Arguments; units one (from 8/26) and two are due by the end of the day on 9/4.|
|09/04||Write: Find a significant image from “La Jetée” by searching online. In a page, discuss its importance in understanding one or more of the film’s themes. Do not summarize the plot; analyze the image. Bring your image and paper to class ready to discuss.|
|5||09/09||Read: William Gibson “The Gernsback Continuum” (PDF)|
|09/11||View: Doctor Who “Blink”; Complete: CTOC Unit Three: Forming Arguments|
|6||09/16||Read: Philip K. Dick “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” (PDF)|
|09/18||View: The X-Files “José Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’” • Complete: CTOC Unit Four: Problem Solving|
|7||09/23||Read: James Tiptree, Jr. “The Girl Who Was Plugged In” (PDF)|
|09/25||View: Black Mirror “The Entire History of You” • Complete: CTOC Critical Thinking Exam|
|8||09/30||Library Exercise: spend some time in the library researching your paper topic. Find strong sources (books, book chapters, articles from academic periodicals) that can potentially assist you in your writing, including at least one book. Include these sources in your paper proposal.|
|10/02||Paper Proposal Due: follow the instructions on this handout from the U of Washington. Your research questions is: “How does an examination of a shared theme (metaphor or character or symbol) help with a critical understanding of two texts we have read for class?” Submit this to me on paper before the end of class on Wednesday.|
|9||10/07||Conferences (No class this week) • Complete: CTOC Unit Five|
|10||10/14||Read: Octavia Butler “Bloodchild” (PDF)|
|10/16||View: Star Trek “The City on the Edge of Forever” • Complete: CTOC Unit Six|
|11||10/21||Read: Tom Godwin “The Cold Equations” (PDF)|
|10/23||View: Battlestar Galactica “33” • Complete: CTOC Unit Seven: Preparing for the Presentation|
|12||10/28||Read: Tim Pratt “Impossible Dreams” (PDF)|
|10/30||View: Deep Space Nine “Far Beyond the Stars” • Complete: CTOC Unit Eight: Presenting the Speech|
|13||11/04||View: Ken Liu “Staying Behind” (PDF)|
|11/06||View: Jason J. Whitmore “At the End” (Vimeo) • Complete: CTOC Communications Exam|
|14||11/11||Conferences to discuss paper progress. No class meeting. See me during class time in my office.|
|15||11/18||Read: Bruce Sterling “Maneki Neko” (PDF)|
|11/20||View: “Uncanny Valley” (Vimeo) and “Lost Memories 2.0” (Vimeo)|
|-||12/06||Final Essay Due — submit on D2L|
- See the MGA website's Syllabus Policy Page the policies linked thereon.
- All of these units are on D2L.
- Midterm grades due.
- Drop date: last day to withdraw with a “W.”