Renny Christopher English 5700
Spring, 2002
Office: L195N ext. 3294

Graduate Seminar:

The body, the mind, the machine: Speculations in fiction

Graduate Standing or consent of English Graduate Coordinator

Isaac Asimov, I Robot
Greg Bear, Darwin's Radio
Michael Bishop, No Enemy But Time
Octavia Butler, Lilith's Brood
Arthur C. Clarke, Childhood's End
CJ Cherryh, Cyteen
Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep
Marge Piercy, He, She and It

A reader of articles and stories available in the English dept. office

Note: The texts above are the required reading for the course. There are also a number of recommended readings listed on the week-by-week schedule; these are not texts we will discuss in class, but rather sources for further exploration of the themes in the required texts, and possible sources for final essays, etc.w

(All texts are available on reserve at the library; they are all readily available through bookstores such as Borders in Modesto and online at independent stores such as www.moesbooks.com (used) www.powells.com (new and used), www.codysbooks.com, and www.keplers.com)


We will read some works of science fiction which examine the human body and mind, their future evolution, their interrelations with machines, and their contacts with aliens. These works raise questions such as, what does it mean to be human? What should it mean to be human? What do we create, and how does it re-create us?

Class Requirements:

Written work: The major paper for this course will be due at the end of the semester. You may write about primary works we read in the course, or works outside the course, including those I've recommended, or others of your own choice. You must also use secondary sources. A proposal will be due near the middle of the semester. There will be a take-home midterm and an in-class final exam

Class participation: The major work of the course centers around discussion of the books, so your participation in class discussion is vital. During the course of the semester, everyone will give a presentation on one of the assigned readings.


Essay: 60%
Midterm & Final: 20%
Class participation: 20% (including oral presentation)

Schedule, subject to change with notice:

Week 1: Introductions
What is science fiction? What is its relationship to "literature"? What does it mean to be human?
Reader: LeGuin, Introduction to the Norton Book of Science Fiction  Available now in the English Dept. Office

First Part: Robots, Androids, Cyborgs

Week 2: Robots
Asimov, I, Robot
Recommended viewing: Metropolis
Reader: [not yet determined]

Week 3: Androids
Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Recommended viewing: Blade Runner (see the Director's Cut, not the original theatrical release)

Week 4:

Reader: [not yet determined]
Recommended viewing: The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgement Day (the Director's Cut)

Week 5: Cyborgs
Piercy, He, She and It
Recommended viewing: "?" episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation
Recommended reading: William Gibson, Neuromancer

Week 6:
Reader: Haraway, "A Manifesto for Cyborgs"
Recommended reading: Ursula K. LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness
Joanna Russ, The Female Man

Week 7: Clones
Cherryh, Cyteen

Week 8:
Reader: McCaffrey, "The Ship Who Sang"

Second Part: Directions in Evolution

Week 9: Aliens without and within
Clarke, Childhood's End
Reader:  [not yet determined]
Recommended reading: Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars
Olaf Stapleton, Odd John

Week 10: The Past, The Future
Bishop, No Enemy But Time
Recommended reading: Joe Haldeman, The Forever War

Week 11: The Genetic and the Social
Bear, Darwin's Radio

Week 12:
Reader: [not yet determined]

Week 13: Miscegenation
Butler, Imago (book 1 of Lilith's Brood)
Recommended reading: books 2 and 3 of Lilith's Brood

Week 14:
Reader: [not yet determined]

Final Exam: first Thursday of finals week.