Lysa M Rivera
The study of the development of and specific debates in the related genres of fantasy and science fiction literatures
For SUMMER 2007: “Terminal Identities” and the Cyberculture Imaginary. Scott Bukatman defines "terminal identity" as follows: "an unmistakably doubled articulation in which we find both the end of the subject and a new subjectivity constructed at the computer station or television screen." This course examines the interface of subjectivity and post-industrial (cybernetic and digital) technologies, particularly as it is represented and aestheticized in science fiction literature and film. Working primarily (though not exclusively) with U.S. science-fiction, it attempts to understand the shifting valences of this interface by exploring its various literary, cinematic, and theoretical responses. Whereas the first half of the course will examine this interface from the perspective of the white/male cultural dominant, the second half will consider it from a distinctly racialized perspective. Thus, in addition to asking what have become central philosophical questions in contemporary “cyberculture” (How, if at all, does the “posthuman” problematize or interrogate the assumptions of Enlightenment humanism? How have post-industrial technologies reshaped how we relate to each other, ourselves, and other cultures?), this course will also take into account how race (and, more to the point, the experiences, attitudes, behaviors, and innovations of America’s “racial” others) figures into the discourse of cyberculture in its literary, cinematic, and theoretical contexts. Readings are likely to include fiction by Bruce Sterling, William Gibson, Maureen McHugh, Pat Cadigan, Cory Doctorow, Neal Stephenson, Walter Mosley, Nisi Shawl, and Greg Pak, and theoretical work by Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Paul D. Miller, Tom Foster, Lisa Nakamura, Alexander Weheylie, Donna Haraway, Chela Sandoval and Kathleen Hayles. In addition to purchasing a few novels, students will also work with a substantial course packet that will include short-stories, theoretical essays, interviews, and excerpts from novels and comics. Students will be expected to write frequent (and sometimes in-class) response papers, one mid-term essay, and take one comprehensive final exam covering a wide-range of both the fiction and theory.
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