Module Identifier EN37220  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Dr Christoph P Lindner  
Semester Semester 2  
Course delivery Seminars / Tutorials   20 Hours Seminar. (10 x 2 hour seminar workshops)  

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module students should typically be able to:
- demonstrate an ability to define ''science fiction'' and its related genres, and to use the terminology used in this field of literary studies;
- demonstrate basic knowledge of major social, political, and cultural issues that have motivated science fiction writing;
- demonstrate an ability to write competently about the texts with reference to their cultural and historical contexts;
- produce organised, coherently argued and critically informed written work;
- engage in a coherent oral discussion of the texts.

Brief description

Why is science fiction such an integral part of popular culture today? What can its extrapolations tell us about Western culture's deepest fears and anxieties? With these questions in mind, this module explores the fantastical and imaginative world of science fiction writing from the early nineteenth century through to the late twentieth. Along the way, we will examine the emergence of science fiction in the late Romantic period, trace its development through the Victorian period where it becomes an established mode of writing, and then follow some of the directions that the genre takes over the course of the twentieth century, concluding with contemporary cyberpunk. Throughout we will look closely at science fiction's tangled relationship with other popular genres such as Gothic and Utopian fiction. And we will analyse its treatment of recurring themes like the 'mad' scientist, intelligent machines, 'monsters' of technology/biology, and travel through time and space. Some theoretical ideas by thinkers such as Darwin, Freud, Marx, and Baudrillard will be used to frame and inform our analysis of the texts.


- to provide an overview of science fiction writing from 1800 to the present;
- to develop working definitions of 'science' fiction, its related genres, and the terminology used in this field of literary studies;
- to guide and encourage the practical application of critical / cultural theory to the interpretation and analysis of texts;
- to familiarise students with major social, political, and cultural issues that have motivated science fiction writing over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.


Seminar Programme
1. Introduction: Why Science Fiction?

2. The Artificial Human: Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (1818)*
(Theory: Freud & 'The Uncanny')

3. Weird Science: Edgar Allan Poe, Selected Short Stories (1845)*
(Theory: Freud & 'The Uncanny')

4. Utopia/Dystopia: Edward Bulwer-Lytton, The Coming Race (1871)*
(Theory: Darwin & Evolution)

5. Time Travel: H.G. Wells, The Time Machine (1895)*
(Theory: Darwin & Evolution)

6. S-F Debut in Film: Fritz Lang, Metropolis (1926)
(Theory: Freud & 'The Uncanny' and Baudrillard & Simulation)

7. Social Engineering: Aldous Huxley, Brave New World (1932)*
(Theory: Marxism & Ideology)

8. Androids: Philip K Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)*
(Theory: Baudrillard & Simulation)

9-10. Cyberpunk: William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984)*
(Theory: Baudrillard & Simulation and Marxism & Ideology)

Set Texts are indicated above with *

Select Bibliography
John Clute and Peter Nicholls (eds), The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (Orbit 1999)
Anthony Croghan, Science Fiction and the Universe of Knowledge (Coburgh 1981)
Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species, ed. Gillian Beer (OUP 1996)
Jane Donawerth & Carol Kolmertern (eds), Utopian and Science Fiction by Women (Liverpool UP 1994)
Sigmund Freud, 'The Uncanny', Complete Psychological Works, Vol 17 (Hogarth Press 1955)
Patrick Parrinder (ed) Science Fiction: A Critical Guide (Liverpool UP 1979)
George Slusser & Tom Shippey (eds), Fiction 2000: Cyberpunk & The Future of Narrative (Georgia UP 1992)


This module is at CQFW Level 6