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Master of Liberal Studies

Spring Seminar

Graduate Seminar, Spring 2020

Monday, 7:00 - 9:50 p.m.
January 20, 2020 – April 27, 2020

MLS 552 Life as We Don’t Know It: The Science of Science Fiction 
“It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it!” An interdisciplinary seminar exploring classic and contemporary texts of science fiction from the perspectives of a scholar of literature and a trained ecologist. We will investigate the science behind some of the classic tropes of the genre including alien life, artificial intelligence, the ecology of other worlds, and the political logic of dystopia. How do science fiction stories and films help us imagine the future—and perhaps as importantly, better understand the world in which we now live? While our focus will be on literary texts we will also watch a few films and videos.  

Tentative Reading List

  • N.K. Jemisin, The Fifth Season
  • Ann Leckie, Ancillary Justice
  • Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars
  • Annalee Newitz, Autonomous
  • Ted Chiang’s “The Story of Your Life” and the film based upon it, Denis Villeneuve’s 2016 film Arrival
  • Alex Garland’s 2014 film Ex Machina

Professor Joshua Corey (English)
Professor Sean Menke (Biology)