Melanie K Kill
Examines health, disease, and healing as social phenomena. Explores the nature and experience of illness through the study of patients, communities, healthcare providers, and medical systems in different cultural, social, political, and economic contexts.
AUTUMN 2007: The Social Functions of Science Fictions
Genres are often thought of as rigidly fixed forms and popular fiction is often regarded as simply entertaining distraction. In this course we will examine the formation of genres around social purposes, taking as our primary example the popular genre of science fiction and its function as a form of public discourse on contemporary social concerns and collective futures. We will begin with questions such as: How do categories work cognitively and how do genres work as categories? Where do genres come from and why do they form? How and why do they change over time? What is genre's relationship with social context and how do the two interact? With some conceptual framework in place we will then dive into an investigation of the sociopolitical purposes of several pieces of science fiction. Course texts will include fiction (with authors likely to include Mary Shelley, H.G. Wells, Philip K. Dick, and Octavia Butler), film, and scholarly articles on genre theory.
Student learning goals
Engage in textual analysis of, and scholarly discussion about, the social functions and significance of genres, science fiction specifically.
Apply and articulate understanding of the role of genre in the design and construction of creative work.
Formulate questions and lines of inquiry that 1) synthesize or integrate different perspectives and approaches to constructing knowledge and 2) cultivate critical awareness of the ethical, cultural, and political dimensions of the ideas you encounter and explore.
Employ skills and strategies for effective collaboration as a learner, researcher, and teacher.
Address different audiences and contexts effectively, in speech and writing, both within and outside the classroom.
Articulate and assess the effects of the choices you and others (peers, scholars, and authors) make in writing and creative work.
General method of instruction
This will be an inquiry-based course in which each member of the class brings their prior and developing knowledge and skills to bear on the questions we address. Primary methods of instruction will include in-class and online discussion, small group workshops, readings, writing assignments, and some lecture.
Curiosity, interest in the social significance of language and storytelling, and willingness to explore questions with complex answers.
Class assignments and grading
Careful reading, inquisitive thinking, and thoughtful writing will be central to success in this class. Assignments will include reading fiction, film, and scholarly articles, writing regularly on a course discussion board, one research project, and one creative project.
Grades will be assigned on the basis of preparation as evidenced by engaged participation in class activities and timely posting of written assignments (approx. 40%) culminating in a final portfolio of work that students will compile by selecting, revising, and reflecting on course work done throughout the quarter (approx. 60%).