Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Spring 2019 Course Descriptions: “Game Studies” and “Classics of Science Fiction”

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I have a pretty good schedule coming up last semester, if I do say so myself, teaching a new-ish freshman honors “Foundations in Rhetoric” course on Game Studies (modeled after my very fun, sadly defunct one-credit seminar) and a totally new grad-level course on “Classics of Science Fiction.” (I’ll also be extending my year-long, co-taught “Math Anxiety and the Mind” Methods of Inquiry course into a second half, yet to be conceived!) Here are the descriptions…

HOPR 1955H: “Game Studies”
This course explores the burgeoning academic field of game studies. Dividing our attention between video games and more traditional board games, we will consider the social impact of games and gaming on a variety of topics from the nuclear-powered “game theory” of the Cold War arms race to utopian dreams of a life of only games to the fraught ethical and political debates that have accompanied the rise of video games as multi-billion-dollar popular entertainment. Are games addictive? Are they bad for children? Are they bad for adults? Are they a waste of time—or, to paraphrase Steven Johnson, do games turn out to actually be good for you? We will also consider pop culture treatment of games and gaming culture in film, literature, and mainstream journalism, as well as recent documentaries like The King of Kong and The Ecstasy of Order.
ENGL 6700: “Classics of Science Fiction”
Course Description: This course engages the subfield of science fiction studies by looking at widely recognized classics in the genre from the postwar period in the United States, running roughly from 1945-1991. Some of these texts exist within the hybrid genre sometimes called “slipstream,” variously read by different audiences as both genre fiction and “serious literature”; others fall much more squarely within the oft-derided category of “pop culture.” We will study these texts alongside scholarship that theorizes both genre classification in general and science fiction in particular, and devote particular attention to how to teach and write about works that may not fit comfortably within the prestige economy of traditional literary studies. Limiting our focus to this historical era will also us to explore how periodization and canonization operate in literary studies, as well as explore how texts intended for consumption by mass-market audiences can help us index the hopes, anxieties, and social transformations of a given cultural moment.

Readings:The reading list is still quite fluid (and open to requests) but major texts will likely include Jack Finney’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time, Octavia E. Butler’s Kindred, William Gibson’sNeuromancer, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen, and Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Lucky Strike, as well as films like 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, and Blade Runner; the television series The Twilight Zone and Star Trek: The Next Generation; and short stories from Judith Merril, Isaac Asimov, Samuel R. Delany, J.G. Ballard, Joanna Russ, and James Tiptree Jr. (Alice Sheldon).

Assignments: Class participation; weekly forum posts; in-class presentations; sample course syllabi, lesson plans, and statement of teaching philosophy

Written by gerrycanavan

October 22, 2018 at 4:05 pm

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