Breadcrumb

Minor

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 cultural 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)

  • Four (4) units from SFCS 001 or ENGL 146 (E-Z) or MCS 146 (E-Z) or ENGL 179C or ANTH 162.
  • Sixteen (16) additional units, selecting 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 133; MCS 146; MCS 151G; MCS 153 (E-Z); MCS 170; TFDP 166C.
    • GROUP TWO: Humanities; selected from CPLT 118; CPAC 132; ENGL 179 (A-D/T); JPN 184; HIST 105; HIST 107; HISA 147; MCS 147; MCS 149; MCS 157; MCS 158; MCS 166; PHIL 137; PHIL 167.
    • GROUP THREE; Social Sciences; ANTH 144 (E-F); GSST 106; GSST 161; GSST 185; GSST 187; GSST 189.
  • 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.

Course Offerings

The lists below are divided into the Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences courses according to when they are typically offered. Clicking on the link under each section will take you to a page with the most up-to-date descriptions of the courses available that particular quarter.

MCS 146G: Cultures and Technologies of the Aural


ENGL 146G: Cultures and Technologies of the Aural

ENGL 179T: Studies in Science Fiction

MCS 147: Visual Culture and Afrofuturism

MCS 149: Between the Panels: Introduction to U.S. and Identity in Visual Culture


GSST 161: Gender and Science

Click here for detailed course descriptions.

ENGL 179T: Studies in Science Fiction

Click here for detailed course descriptions.

TFDP 166C: Screenwriting: Rewrites and Writing for Television


ENGL 179D: Science Fiction on Film

Click here for detailed course descriptions.

Course Descriptions

  • Core Courses

    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. Emphasizes exchanges between technology and popular culture. Covers fiction by H.G. Wells, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Nacy Kress and critical readings by Steven Shafer, Donna Haraway, and Bruno Latour.

    Or the approved substitutes:

    ENGL 146/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.

    ENGL 179C Science and Science Fiction (4): 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.

    ANTH 162 Culture and Medicine (4): Interrelations of health, disease and culture; cross-cultural comparisons of "health," "disease," and "curing" 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.


    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. Develops skills in the formulation and investigation of research questions in science fiction and technoculture studies. Synthesizes and integrates knowledge and skills obtained in the minor. Includes a major research project and presentations by guest speakers.

  • Fine Arts and Creative Writing

    CRWT 162 Intermediate Fiction Workshop (4): Class work consists of intensive analysis of students' work.

    CRWT 172 Advanced Fiction Workshop (4): A workshop in fiction writing for students who wish to attempt, with criticism from class members, to fashion a collection of stories or a novel.

    MCS 133 Mediating the Anthropocene (4): Examines anthropogenic climate change and activism as cultural and media events.

    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 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. 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. Cross-listed with DNCE 173 (E-Z).

    MCS 170 Senior Seminar on the Anthropocene (5): Prerequisite(s): MCS 108, MCS 109, MCS 122, MCS 140, MCS 163, MCS 177; or equivalent; restricted to class level standing of senior; restricted to major(s) Media and Cultural Studies; prior research and/or coursework on sustainability, climate change, media or art production; and consent of instructor. Explores anthropogenic climate change.

    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.

  • Humanities

    CPLT 118 The Alien as Other (4): Considers the alien in science fiction studies as an image of both alterity ("Otherness") 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): Comparative examination of the early development of Western medical traditions in classical Greece and the origins and development of the Chinese medical systems now referred to as traditional Chinese medicine. Focuses on their cultural and societal contexts. Cross-listed with AST 132, CHN 132, and CLA 132.

    ENGL 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 MCS 146 (E-Z).

    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): 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). A historical survey of science fiction film and television from the twentieth century to the present. Includes readings 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. 

    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. Cross-listed with ETST 116.

    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.

    MCS 147 Visual Culture and Afrofuturism  (4): 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.

    MCS 149 Between the Panels: Introduction to U.S. and Identity in Visual Culture (4): An introduction to the history of the medium of comics in the United States. It will also examine the tensions between the mainstream focus on comics and graphic novels represented via the superhero genre and the alternatively diverse narratives that are afforded through the medium.

    MCS 157 Afrofuturism and the Visual Cultures of Horror (4): An introduction to the trope of the grotesque and the myriad societal fears regarded what the monster symbolizes in visual mediations of the horror genre. Analyzes the tensions between the imaginings of the monstrous and how identity is constructed and consumed.

    MCS 158 Afrofuturism and the Politics of the Black Superhero (4): This course deals with the political aspects of the superhero genre and its historical tensions with representations of black characters. It also deals with how black superheroes speak to the cultural production system called Afrofuturism and its inherent celebration of agency regarding black subjectivity in the comics medium.

    MCS 166 Punk and Post-Punk Cultures (4): Examination of the history of punk and post-punk cultures from the United States and Great Britain since the mid-1970s. Assesses the impact and enduring appeal of punk and post-punk attitudes and aesthetics across the Atlantic divide through music, fashion, film, and other expressive forms.

    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.

  • Social Sciences

    ANTH 144E Culture and Medicine (4): Explores the interrelations of health, illness, and culture. Addresses cross-cultural comparisons of health and healing and the effects of cultural systems on health and illness. Examines a diversity of societies and their belief systems and the effects of cultural change (historical and modern) on health and wellbeing.

    ANTH 144F 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.

    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 knowledge; 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 144F. 

    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 cosmetic, sex-reassignment, and weight loss surgeries; reproductive, contraceptive, and medical technologies; anti-depressants; sex toys; and body piercing.