ENGL 151
Reading and Writing Science Fiction Spring 2020
Division I Writing Skills

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This course will explore some of the themes and techniques of modern science fiction by examining a range of published stories, while at the same time making some new stories of our own. Writers of fiction and non-fiction often watch each other with suspicion, as if from opposing sides of an obvious frontier. Though the goals of both forms of writing–the disciplined articulation of brainy thoughts and mighty feelings–are similar, there is a tendency in both camps to think their methods different and exclusive. The conceit of this class is to imagine that constructing a plot and constructing an argument, say, are complementary skills, and that the tricks and techniques of one type of writing can profitably be applied to the other. With this in mind, the class is made of two strands twisted together–a creative writing workshop and a course in critical analysis. There will be short weekly assignments in both types of writing, as well as two larger projects: an original science fiction short story and an interpretive/analytical essay. Assigned readings will include stories and essays by Terry Bisson, Octavia Butler, Samuel R. Delany, Karen Joy Fowler, Carol Emshwiller, and John Crowley, among many others.
The Class: Type: discussion/seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 19
Class#: 3711
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: active participation in class and about thirty pages of writing, both critical and creative; two 12- to 20-page writing assignments (short story and analytical/interpretive essay), with revisions; half-dozen shorter writing assignments, plus written responses
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: first-year students
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills
WS Notes: This course will require two long writing assignments, twelve to twenty pages, one critical and one creative, each of which will go through an extensive revision process. In addition, I will assign a half-dozen shorter assignments of both types (critical and creative) and single-page critical responses to all workshopped assignments, for a total of thirty or so pages of required writing. A crucial component of the course will be its attention to writing style, strategy, and organization.

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