Department of English

University of Toronto

ENG237H1F L0101

ENG237H1F L0101 MW 2-5
Effective Writing
Instructor: 
Dr. Mike Johnstone
Office Location: 
Jackman Humanities Building, Room, 803
Email: m.johnstone@utoronto.ca

Brief Description of Course: This course will treat science fiction (SF) as a significant literature and tradition that has reflected and responded to our rapidly changing modern world in distinct ways since the late 19th century. During the term, we will attempt to develop a working definition of science fiction not just by identifying its tropes and conventions, but also by understanding what it does that sets it apart from other genres and from mainstream literature. To do so, we will explore themes of dystopia/utopia and apocalypse, the encounter with the alien (or, Other), and the future of human identity, as well as consider the influence of the medium of science fiction (i.e., short stories, novels, graphic novels, film) upon how we define and identify the genre. Overall, we will approach SF as a literature of critique that explores challenging and profound questions about the human condition through the lens of technoscience.

Required Reading: Octavia Butler, Lilith’s Brood: Dawn (Hachette/Grand Central, 2000); Arthur C. Clarke, Rendezvous with Rama (Bantam/Spectra, 1973); Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Del Rey, 1968); William Gibson, Neuromancer (Ace, 1984); Ann Leckie, Ancillary Justice (Orbit, 2013). There will also be some readings available online and/or as PDFs.

NOTE: The novels will be available at Bakka Phoenix Books (84 Harbord Street, 416-963-9993).

First Three Authors/Texts:
 Clarke; Butler; Dick.

Method of Evaluation: Essay #1 (15%); essay #2 (40%); final exam (45%).


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