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First-Year Writing Seminar: What is Science Fiction?

Semester and Year FA 2017
Course Number FIRST-UG426
Section 001
Instructor Paul Grimstad
Days MW
Time 3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
Units 4
Level U


Open to Gallatin first-year students only.


What is the relation between literary art and natural science? Is fiction a form of knowledge, and if so how is it different from the sort of knowledge arrived at in the sciences? What is the role of the thought experiment in scientific inquiry? Are artworks thought experiments? The course will explore such questions through a focus on science-fiction as a genre, broadly construed. In addition to reflection on what is meant by "genre," we will consider how science and the scientist are represented in works of fiction, the literature and philosophy of artificial intelligence, and the idea of time travel. Students write 3-4 essays making claims and using evidence from works on the syllabus, with emphasis on writing clear prose in support of an original argument. Authors and filmmakers may include H.G. Wells ,  Philip K. Dick, Ursula Le Guin, William Gibson, Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Lucretius, Sigmund Freud, Stanely Kubrick, Jorge Luis Borges, Samuel Delaney, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Italo Calvino, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Alan Turing, Jonathan Lethem, Ridley Scott and George Lucas. Throughout the semester we will also consult Verlyn Klinkenborg’s  Several Short Sentences About Writing  as a style guide, with the aim of writing graceful, persuasive essays.


All Syllabi

Course Type

First-Year Program: Writing Seminars (FIRST-UG)