COMPLIT 122 - Writing World Literatures
Spring 2022, Section 102 - Stories of the End: Comparative Readings in Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction
Instruction Mode: Section 102 is  Online (see other Sections below)
Subject: Comparative Literature (COMPLIT)
Department: LSA Comparative Literature
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Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:
Start/End Date:
Full Term 5/3/22 - 6/20/22 (see other Sections below)
NOTE: Drop/Add deadlines are dependent on the class meeting dates and will differ for full term versus partial term offerings.
For information on drop/add deadlines, see the Office of the Registrar and search Registration Deadlines.


What do we mean by “the end of the world”? Whose world, whose end? In this course, we will seriously ask and re-ask this question as we read a series of recent(ish) novels in the post-apocalyptic science fiction genre and consider, from various angles, the various resonances of apocalypse—both as it is portrayed in these stories and as it echoes in the collective unconscious to shape our most basic understanding of who we are and why we are here.

We will consider how narrative scenarios like climate catastrophe, nuclear holocaust, artificial intelligence, aliens, and pandemic correlate with real-world urgencies and anxieties. What is the relationship between apocalyptic fiction and humankind’s ability to imagine a future for itself? How might these stories help us productively unsettle what we even mean by “human”? Similarly, how might they help shed new light on key epistemological categories like race, gender, work, history, culture, religion, being, time? Do we encounter these stories as prophecy, warning, mirage, metaphor, allegory, nightmare—or all or none of the above? What if the apocalypse already happened?

In pursuit of these questions and more, we’ll be close-reading a selection of contemporary English-language novels. Possible texts may include: The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. By way of provocation to shift our frame of thinking, primary readings will be occasionally supplemented with selected readings in posthumanist theory and other critical texts, podcasts, and visual media including films.

Course Requirements:

This course requires participation in regular synchronous online class meetings, which will be devoted primarily to discussion of the reading material in large- and small-group format. Expect to read about 100-150 pages of a novel each week, together with some supplementary secondary readings or excerpts. Students will complete a series of low-stakes written responses and self-reflections (1-3 pages), and about three longer papers ranging from 3-8 pages each, submitted in multiple drafts, with the possibility of working in a multimodal format such as audio for the final project. No mid-term or final exam. This course uses a labor-based grading policy, meaning you will receive instructor and peer feedback on papers and drafts but they will not be graded. Your final grade will derive from the amount of work you complete on time, along with your attendance and participation in meetings and peer feedback workshops.

Intended Audience:

This course is both for lovers of dystopian sci fi novels and those who are simply curious about the themes explored therein. A pre-existing appetite for reading fantastical narrative fiction is highly recommended, as we will be moving through novels at a fast pace. It is aimed at first-year undergraduates and is designed to help you practice and strengthen literary analysis and analytic writing skills.


COMPLIT 122 - Writing World Literatures
Schedule Listing
102 (REC)
TuTh 11:00AM - 2:00PM
5/3/22 - 6/20/22

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