ENGLISH 242 - Interdisciplinary Studies in English
Fall 2023, Section 001 - Where is the Science in Science Fiction
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May be elected twice for credit.
Primary Instructor:
Start/End Date:
Full Term 8/28/23 - 12/6/23 (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.


How do science and science fiction help to shape our ideas about who we are, the function of our bodies, our relation to the nonhuman, our place to the universe, and our engagements with the environment? To what extent are works of science fiction anchored in real science, and what are the implications of their divergences from the scientifically possible? How are the imaginative leaps that scientists make in their investigations echoed in—and often extended by--the imaginative leaps of science fiction? This course will give students the opportunity to explore these questions in an interdisciplinary context.

Since its emergence, science fiction has encouraged us to imagine possible futures toward which technological innovation might lead. The genre, initially given shape by Romantic critiques of Enlightenment thinking, has helped us to explore the imaginative possibilities enabled by science and the ethical implications of new technologies. This course shares the attitudes of exploration and critique embodied by its double subject matter.

  • Students will learn about the history of science fiction and will track historical trends and movements within the genre as they relate to the history of science.
  • Students will study how science fiction has brought into everyday language terms and tropes derived from the discourse of science—black holes and wormholes, warp speed and hyperspace, cloning and cryogenics, dark matter and antimatter, teleportation and terra-forming, cyborgs and androids, hive minds and the multiverse. The class gives students the opportunity to investigate the scientific roots and meanings of such concepts, categories, and innovations, while looking at the ways that these ideas are elucidated and challenged in sci-fi literature and culture.
  • Students will also have the opportunity to study some concepts and problems in contemporary science, exploring their ethical and practical implications as elucidated in works of science fiction

This course satisfies the following CURRENT English major/minor requirement: NOT APPLICABLE

This course satisfies the following NEW English major/minor requirements: Foundations & Methods (200-level), Regions: Americas, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Time: Contemporary/Modern

Course Requirements:

  • The course requires regular participation in class discussion and timely completion of reading and writing assignments.
  • Students will write short reflection papers, science assignments, and Canvas conversation assignments.
  • The final exam consists of short answers and short essays.

Intended Audience:

The course is open to undergraduates across all departments and programs. It is accessible to all undergraduate students at all levels.


ENGLISH 242 - Interdisciplinary Studies in English
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 In Person
TuTh 2:30PM - 4:00PM
8/28/23 - 12/6/23

Textbooks/Other Materials

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