The minor in Speculative Fiction and Cultures of Science explores intersections among speculative fiction, science and technology studies (STS), and traditions of speculative thought. We study the pervasive role of speculative discourses in public culture, investigating the complex and reciprocal exchanges among futuristic discourses, research agendas, public policy decisions, media texts, and daily life in technologically saturated societies. Using the combined perspectives of cultural studies and STS helps students develop critical literacy about their media-dominated landscape through which to understand its discourses of science and the future. Bringing speculative fictions and STS into dialogue, our scholars focus on understanding technological change in specific contexts by analyzing the texts and practices that have responded to, critiqued, and build upon the ways science shapes our cultural, material, and economic milieu. Speculative thinking and speculative fictions are central to many of the most compelling contemporary research concerns, such as the Anthropocene, climate change, genetic engineering, and discourses of the posthuman. We examine the histories and cultures of science, technology, and medicine to understand the role culture plays in the production of science and the reciprocal way changes in science and technology shape culture. Our program uniquely emphasizes the role of popular culture and the genres of speculative fiction, in particular, for serving as an imaginative testing ground for technological innovation, articulating hopes and anxieties regarding technological change, and mediating public understandings of science and its applications.
Upper-division requirements (24 units)
a) Four (4) units from SFCS 001 or ENGL 146 or MCS 146 or ENGL 179C or ANTHR 162
b) Sixteen (16) additional units, selected from the following groups. Students must take at least four (4) units from two of the three groups.
GROUP ONE: Fine Arts; selected from CRWT 162; CRWT 172; MCS 146; MCS 151G; MCS 153 (E-Z); TFDP 166C.
GROUP TWO: Humanities; selected from CPLT 118; CPAC 132; ENGL 179A; ENGL 179B; ENGL 179C; ENGL 179D; ENGL 179T; JPN 184; HIST 105; HIST 107; HISA 147; PHIL 137; PHIL 167.
GROUP THREE: Social Sciences; selected from ANTH 143; ANTH 162; GSST 106; GSST 161; GSST 185; GSST 187; GSST 189.
c) Four (4) units from SFCS 193 (senior seminar) or CPLT 193 or ENGL 189 or MCS 193 or PHIL 193
All students must take the introductory course and the senior seminar or approved equivalents listed above. There is no required order in which elective courses must be taken but credit in SFCS 001 or equivalent courses is required for entry into SFCS 193.
See Minors under the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences in the Colleges and Programs section of the UCR catalog for information on minors.
Lower-Division Core Course
SFCS 001 Introduction to Speculative Fiction and Cultures of Science (4) Lecture, 3 hours; extra reading, 3 hours. Investigates the relationship among science, technology, medicine and popular culture. Provides theoretical background in the cultural study of science and in the ways that popular fiction explores the impact of science and technology. Critical readings may include Steven Shafer, Donna Haraway, Sandra Harding and Bruno Latour.
Upper-Division Core Course
SFCS 193 Senior Seminar in Speculative Fiction and Cultures of Science (4) Lecture, 3 hours; extra reading, 3 hours. Prerequisite(s): SFCS 001 or equivalent or consent of instructor. Develop skills in the formulation and investigation of research questions in cultural studies of science as they intersect with popular fiction. Synthesizes and integrates knowledge and skills obtained in the minor. Includes a major research project and presentations by guest speakers.
Other Eligible Courses
Fine Arts and Creative Writing
CRWT 044: Lecture: Ghosts, Gods and Monsters: Children's and Young Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction. A survey of children's and young adult literature of the fantastic, with emphasis on how the craft of tales and fables contributes to their meaning. Explores writerly techniques. Prof. Nalo Hopkinson firstname.lastname@example.org
CRWT 162: Intermediate Fiction Workshop (4). Intensive analysis of students' work, with accompanying readings.
CRWT 172: Advanced Fiction Workshop (4). A workshop in fiction writing for students who wish to attempt, with criticism from class members, to fashion short fiction.
CRWT 246 001: Graduate Seminar. Folklore-Derived Science Fiction and Fantasy. Proceeding from Ursula K LeGuin's assertion that science fiction and fantasy are modern-day mythmaking, we will examine specific folktales along with contemporary fiction which repurposes these tales. We will look at both the “how” and the “why” of such repurposing, both from a writerly and a readerly perspective. For the purposes of this course, I'm defining “folklore” as pre-20th C stories and tropes in public domain which have entered our common consciousness. We may know the original authors and tales, or we may not. Again for the purposes of this course, I'm denoting “science fiction” and “fantasy” as fiction in any artistic medium, created post Hugo Gernsback's early 20th C coinage of the phrase “scientifiction.” Entails some fiction writing. Prof. Nalo Hopkinson email@example.com
MCS 146 (E-Z): Special Topics in Technoculture and Digital Media (4). Advanced study of theories and practices of reader and audience interaction with technologies of cultural production in general and digital media in particular. Includes praxis-oriented composition or research. E. Identities and Interactions; F. Cultures and Technologies of the Visual; G. Cultures and Technologies of the Aural; I. Advanced Composition and Rhetoric for Digital Media Authors. Cross-listed with ENGL 146 (E-Z)
MCS 147: Visual Culture and Afrofuturism. Lecture. Prerequisite(s): upper-division standing or consent of instructor. An introduction to the cultural production of space called Afrofuturism and the history of the black speculative arts. Includes how the speculative affects representations of race and blackness in literature, visual culture, and music. Prof. John Jennings firstname.lastname@example.org
MCS 151G: Gender, Mechanization, and Shape (4). Utilizes film, video, and texts to examine the relationship among gender, mechanization, and shape during the twentieth century. Focuses on the performing arts, industrial and technological design, and the relationship of visual culture to changing notions of gender. Course is repeatable. Cross-listed with DNCE 171G.
MCS 153 (E-Z): Digitized Bodies (4). Provides a theoretical approach to digital subjectivities, bodies in motion, products, and realities. Addresses issues of liveness, new media, mediated cultural identities, speed, transfer, telepresence, and coded and encoded sexuality within programming. Focuses primarily on the body/computer interface. J. Digital Games, Violence, and the Body; K. Virtual Subjectivity: Persona, Identity, and Body. Segments are repeatable. Cross-listed with DNCE 173 (E-Z).
TFDP 166C: Screenwriting: Rewrites and Writing for Television (4). Explores the fundamentals of screenwriting. Includes story development, plotting, and characterization as they are used in creating a complete script for television or feature film.
CPLT 118: The Alien as Other (4). Lecture, 3 hours; outside research, 3 hours. Considers the alien in science fiction studies as an image of both alterity and a reflection on what it means to be human. Topics include alien contact, societies and languages, and the deliberate modifications of both humans and aliens. Utilizes short stories, novels, and film.
CPAC 132: Medical Traditions in China and Greece (4). This course focuses on the comparative history of science (medicine) in China and Greece. Cross-listed with AST 132, CHN 132, and CLA 132.
ENGL 146 (E-Z): Special Topics in Technoculture and Digital Media (4). Advance study of theories and practices of reader and audience interaction with technologies of cultural production in general and digital media in particular. Includes praxis-oriented composition or research. E. Identities and Interactions; F. Cultures and Technologies of the Visual; G. Cultures and Technologies of the Aural; I. Advanced Composition and Rhetoric for Digital Media Authors.
ENGL 179A: History of Science Fiction (4). A historical survey of science fiction literature from the nineteenth century to the present. Covers major works by H.G. Wells, Arthur C. Clarke, Stanislaw Lem, Ursula K. Le Guin, and William Gibson.
ENGL 179B: History of Fantasy and Horror Literature (4). A historical survey of fantasy and horror literature from the nineteenth century to the present. Covers major works by Bram Stoker, H.P. Lovecraft, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Angela Carter.
ENGL 179C: Science and Science Fiction (4). This new course is currently in the process of approval review. Investigates the relationship between science and science fiction and the role of culture in producing scientific knowledge. Readings include novels and scholarship in the history and sociology of science. Covers work by Nancy Kress, Greg Bear, Greg Egan, Thomas Kuhn, Donna Haraway, and Bruno Latour.
ENGL 179D: Science Fiction on Film (4). This new course is currently in the process of approval review. A historical survey of science fiction film and television from the twentieth century to the present. Includes reading in film and television criticism. Covers work by directors and creators such as Robert Wise, Stanley Kubrick, Gene Roddenberry and David Cronenberg.
ENGL 179T. Studies in Science Fiction (4). Focuses on a specific theme, subgenre, period, movement, or major author within the field of science fiction. Explores topics such as science fiction and social identities, cyberpunk, and H.G. Wells and the scientific romance.
JPN 184: Japanese Media and Cultural Studies (4). Investigates Japanese media and culture including film, television, video games, manga (comics), anime, music, and print and digital media. Analyzes the function of media relating to issues of national identity, imperial culture, collective memory, and censorship. Includes transnational circulation of Japanese cultural forms, alternative media, and historical changes in technologies. Cross-listed with AST 184 and MCS 184.
HIST 105: Science in the Modern World (4). History of science in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, stressing the rise of the Darwinian worldview, the genetic revolution and its social consequences, and the romantic rejection of science.
HIST 107: Disease and Society (4). Covers a world history of disease and how it relates to massive population change, cultural shocks, and globalization. Evaluates the complex and reciprocal relationship between illness and society. Analyzes how cultures, states, and individuals shape the spread of contagious disease, as well as how disease affects societies.
HISA 147: Medicine Ways of Native Americans (4). Explores the medical history of Native Americans. Focuses on traditional Native American medicine and how Western diseases, medical practices, health care, and policies influenced American Indian health. Topics include medicine people, rituals, ceremonies, smallpox, measles, influenza, anomie, accidents, diabetes, suicides, mental illness, and murders.
PHIL 137: Philosophy of Science (4). Topics discussed include understanding scientific objectivity in the light of history and sociology of science; realism and anti-realism about scientific theories; scientific methodology and its logic; and the nature of scientific explanation.
PHIL 167: Biomedical Ethics (4). A philosophical discussion of newly emerging issues, both ethical and social, in biology and medicine, such as genetic engineering, euthanasia, experimentation with human subjects, abortion, behavior control, and patient's right to know.
PHIL 283: Seminar in Contemporary Philosophy; The Sparseness or Abundance of Consciousness in the Universe, on Earth, and in Your Own Mind. We will focus on the question of how sparse or abundant consciousness is in the universe, on Earth, and in your own mind. On Earth: We will consider the question of what sorts of animals are conscious -- that is, what sorts of animals have "phenomenology" or a "stream of experience" or are such that there's "something it's like" to be them? Some theorists hold that only cognitively sophisticated human beings can have genuine conscious experience; others hold that even very simple organisms might have conscious experience. In the universe: We will also consider views on what sorts of possible or hypothetical systems would be conscious: What would it take for a computer or robot to have genuine conscious experience? How about hypothetical science fiction aliens or various types? In your own mind: Some people think that the stream of conscious experience is "sparse" in the sense that we can at any moment only consciously experience one or a few things at a time -- more or less whatever is in attention. Others hold that human experience is "abundant" in the sense that at any moment we normally have lots of experiences going on at once, including peripheral experiences of your feet in your shoes and the hum of the refrigerator in the background. NOTE: Graduate students from any UCR department are welcome. Prof. Eric Schwitzgebel
ANTH 143: Gender, Race, and Medicine (4). Explores the relationship between Western medicine and women, racial minorities, and non-Western citizens. Investigates how gender ideology, racial inequity, and colonialism shape the medical representation of bodies, sexuality, and pathology. Examines how patients have renegotiated their relationships with medicine through health movements and alternative healing practices. Cross-listed with GSST 185
ANTH 162: Culture and Medicine (4). Interrelations of health, disease and culture; cross-cultural comparisons of health, disease and recurring concepts; effects of cultural behavior on health and illness. Special focus on traditional societies and their belief systems, and on the effects of cultural change (historical and modern) on illness and curing.
GSST 106: Feminist Bioethics (4). An exploration of the ways in which feminist theory provides insight on contemporary issues in bioethics. Topics include women in clinical research, cosmetic surgery, abortion, contract gestation, fetal protection policies, and the politics of mental illness. Cross-listed with PHIL 171.
GSST 161: Gender and Science (4). Focuses on the intersections of Western constructions of gender and scientific knowledge since the sixteenth century. Considers the cultural and political roles of the scientist in terms of gender, the structuring of objectivity and objects of study, the status of scientific knowledges, and the emergence of feminist science studies.
GSST 185: Gender, Race, and Medicine (4). Explores the relationship between Western medicine and women, racial minorities, and non-Western citizens. Investigates how gender ideology, racial inequity, and colonialism shape the medical representation of bodies, sexuality, and pathology. Examines how patients have renegotiated their relationships with medicine through health movements and alternative healing practices. Cross-listed with ANTH 143.
GSST 187: Women, Gender, and Technology (4). Introduces historical and sociological studies of gender and technology. Examines how women have been affected by technological developments and how gender ideologies informed the design and implementation of various technologies. Explores the relations among technology, material culture, sustainability, and power. Technologies covered include those in the household, the workplace, and cyberspace.
GSST 189: Gender, Technology, and the Body (4). Examines various technologies that alter the body. Investigates how technological interventions in the body reproduce and reshape gender ideologies in contemporary Western culture. Topics include reproductive technologies and cosmetic, sex-reassignment, and weight loss surgeries.