Weekly Texts and Participation (30%)
Each week you will provide questions related to the assigned readings. We will use these to guide class conversations, so please remember to give each question a page number (or, for web sites, films, games, etc., an appropriate reference). Participation in class discussion is of the utmost importance; students are expected to engage with the source material and with their classmates’ comments.
Geek of the Week
Each student will be responsible for helping lead the discussion for one class meeting. This will include selecting one additional media text to be added to the syllabus and preparing some questions to begin the conversation in class that week. Selections should not be full books and should be approved by Profs. Keramidas and Nagle at least two weeks before class so that they can be added to the course site.
Essays (to be posted on the course site)(25%)
Essay 1: (5%)
Drawing on the readings and discussion from our first class, define “science fiction” and explain what you think it means. Post on WordPress site (250+ words) — DUE SEPTEMBER 14 ESSAYS HERE
Essays 2 and 3:(10% each)
Choose from the enormous variety and range of sci-fi texts in the genre and write a critical study using the anthropological and historical approaches we’ve explored. This will involve both a close reading of your chosen text and historical research. (500+ words)
- Essay 2 — book/story text — DUE OCTOBER 5 ESSAYS HERE
- Essay 3 — media text — DUE NOVEMBER 2 ESSAYS HERE
Final Project: Media Treatment [Collaborative work is possible/encouraged] (45%)
Each student will develop an alternate interactive media version of a significant science fiction text – that is, create a new take on that story and put it in a new medium defined by experiential narrative parameters. The goal of the exercise is twofold: first you will re-envision your chosen text from the perspective of the present using anthropological, historical and critical analyses that we develop during the semester; secondly, you will be challenged to think of ways to convey rich, rigorous, and intellectual ideas using non-linear, user-driven story mechanics The project will consist of three stages:
1.) Proposal (1000+ words) — DUE OCTOBER 19 (10%)
This has four parts:
a. description of the original text and its socio-cultural and historic contexts;
b. justification for the alternate version that explains the new socio-cultural/historical contexts;
c. engagement with relevant theoretical perspectives as they apply to the original work and to the new version;
d. a work plan for the project.
2.) Prototype (20%)
The core of the project, this is an interactive multimedia expression of your text alternative. It will include visual representations of different locations, plot points, and experiences through the use of audio, video, locational, and other sensory expressions. These features will be combined and conveyed through a combination of drawing, collage, screenplay, storyboard, etc., and will be accompanied by textual descriptions for further clarity. Most importantly, the prototype will explicate the interactive mechanics that will differentiate your work from the predominantly linear narratives we will be reading/viewing this semester.
There will be at least one presentation of middle stage work on the prototype. It can remain in analog format until then, but thereafter must be translated to digital output. One week towards the end of the semester will be dedicated to working in class on the project to share work with other students and receive feedback from Profs. Keramidas and Nagle. The last class of the semester will be a conference-style presentation of your prototype to the class.
- First Draft – DUE NOVEMBER 30
- Project Lab – DECEMBER 14
- Project Review/Conference – DECEMBER 21
- Final – DUE DECEMBER 23
3.) Reflection Paper (2000+ words) (15%)
Each student will be responsible for a statement that accomplishes two goals: a. describe the purpose of your project in relation to the original text along with historical placement of the project relative to other texts and theory in the field; and b. reflect on the process of working on the treatment, including descriptions of how disparate media forms affected your workflow, how you approached the different stages of the project, unexpected obstacles or discoveries, etc. — DUE DECEMBER 23