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CCOG for ENG 261 Spring 2023

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Course Number:
ENG 261
Course Title:
Literature of Science Fiction
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Explores the roots of science fiction as well as classic and modern works of science fiction and speculative literature. Introduces common themes in science fiction, the various ideological underpinnings of science fiction, and the way such literature comments on current issues in society and presents new ideas to society. Prerequisites: (WR 115 and RD 115) or IRW 115 or equivalent placement. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

Course texts may include anthologies, collections, novels, magazines, or other works the instructor deems appropriate. Instructors may also include additional works from related or sub genres, such as fantasy, magical realism or cyber-punk, cinematic or video texts, and/or critical works about science fiction.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

  1. Recognize the elements common to science fiction that distinguish it from other genres and analyze science fiction works from various critical approaches using appropriate literary terminology.
  2. Create critical hypotheses about texts and argue for their validity using textual evidence.
  3.  Analyze the ways in which science fiction reflects and distorts "reality" and the ideological arguments underlying its presentations.
  4. Explore the tradition of science fiction and discover ways in which authors have recognized the possibilities of the genre by examining a variety of modern and classic works.
  5. Examine different presentations in science fiction of gender, science and technology, governmental systems, culture, religion and ethnicity.
  6. Write clear, focused coherent essays about science fiction for an academic audience using standard English conventions of grammar and style.

Integrative Learning

Students completing an associate degree at Portland Community College will be able to reflect on one’s work or competencies to make connections between course content and lived experience.

General education philosophy statement

English and Writing courses align with the PCC General Education philosophy by providing an appreciation of writing and literature from global and personal perspectives. Students in English courses engage the imagination, critical inquiry and self‐reflection, and in the process of doing so, cultivate a more complex understanding of their own culture(s), linguistic/communication practices, and perspectives in relation to others. Because the literary arts lie at the heart of most human cultures, they are essential for understanding each other and navigating our differences. In literature classes, students explore significant texts from diverse cultures and periods in history. Students look closely at texts from a range of genres, articulating the way elements of writing, content, form, and style are interrelated, and considering how values and interpretations have changed over time and through different theoretical lenses. Students engage texts through critical analysis and creative response, learning to use evidence to support their interpretations and to navigate critical conversations. Students explore literature both as an art form designed to provoke thought and challenge social norms, and as an expression of human experience. Writing and Literature courses foster a stronger sense of engagement with history, culture, and society. Writing and Literature students develop an awareness of themselves as readers and writers in a global world, and an enlarged understanding of the relationships between language, identity, ideas, scholarship, communication, and transformation.

Course Activities and Design

Students read, discuss, and write about assigned readings. Class time might consist of teacher and/or student lecture, discussion, small group work, in-class writing, viewing videos, examining art related to science fiction, and other activities appropriate to the class.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Assessment tools may include informal responses to study questions; evaluation of small- and full-group discussion; in-class and out-of-class writing; formal essays as well as informal responses to study questions and other types of informal writing; presentations by individuals and groups; short and long essay exams; close reading exercises using support/evidence; writing exercises which include evaluation of various interpretations of a text and their relative validity. Both instructor and peer evaluation may be incorporated in the assessment process. 

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Additional themes/concepts/issues:
Narrative styles
Rhetorical strategies
Stock characters
Gender issues
History of science fiction
Hard science fiction
Space opera
Grand masters
Relationship(s) between science fiction and other genres
Magical Realism
New Criticism
New Historicism
Feminist theory
Psychoanalytic theory
Marxist theory
Structuralist theory
Postmodern theory
Reader response theory
Competencies and Skills
Understanding science fiction through contexts such as society, politics, artistic
conventions, multiple interpretations of an author, etc.
Writing about science fiction
Close readings
Critical reading employing reviews and critical essays
Speaking and listening reflectively
Small-group collaboration
Instructors new to the course should contact the campus literature chair, writing SACC chair, faculty department chair, or administrative support person for further information.