Fantasy & Science Fiction Media, Spring 2014

FILM 4280/6280, Spring 2014

Tuesdays & Thursdays 1:00-2:15 PM, 401 Langdale

Screenings Tuesdays, 11:00 AM-12:50 PM, 406 Arts & Humanities

 

Ted Friedman

25 Park Place #1017

tedf@gsu.edu

http://twitter.com/tedfriedman

http://tedfriedman.com

 

 

Course Description

How do we dream our visions of the future? How do we explore our fantasies of the past?

 

Science fiction extrapolates the trends of the present to imagine possible future worlds, both utopian and (more often) dystopian. Fantasy looks back to imagine past worlds in which technology has not yet usurped nature. Both genres are rooted in mythic traditions that push beyond the boundaries of realism to reach for deeper truths.

 

This class will examine the genres of fantasy and science fiction across multiple media, including film, television, literature, comics and gaming. We’ll survey their history, while at the same time tracing the impact of each text forward into the present. We’ll look at how these works have reflected and influenced American society, as each new generation of creators has responded to changing social conditions by re-imagining the key tropes and themes of the genres. And we’ll try to understand why these visions continue to capture the world’s imagination.

 

Readings

Class readings will include books and a coursepack of articles. Here are the books you’ll need:

 

Maggie Hyde and Michael McGuinness, Introducing Jung

Salman Rushdie, The Wizard of Oz

Neal Gaiman, The Sandman: Season of Mists

Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game

Karen Thompson Walker, The Age of Miracles

 

The course books can be ordered through online retailers such as amazon.com/student, bn.com, and powells.com. The coursepack is sold by Bestway Copy Center, 18 Decatur Street SE (on the first floor of One Park Place South).

 

Students in Film 6280 will read two additional books of their choice, one scholarly book and one work of fiction, and will present them in two separately scheduled meetings with the other graduate students.

 

Twitter Feed 

Relevant news and commentary will be shared with the class via the Twitter hashtag #fsfmedia. Feel free to respond to tweets or post your own.  Class Schedule

 

Unit I: Modern Myths

 

T 1/14 Understanding Fantasy and Science Fiction

 

Th 1/16 The Power of Myth

Ted Friedman, “Myth, the Numinous, and Cultural Studies”:

http://flowtv.org/?p=4161

Ted Friedman, “The Politics of Magic,”

http://www.scope.nottingham.ac.uk/article.php?issue=14&id=1138&section=article&q=rose

 

T 1/21 Star Wars

Joseph Campbell, excerpt from The Hero With a Thousand Faces (CP)

Christopher Vogler and Stuart Voytilla, excerpt from Myth and the Movies (CP)

 

Th 1/23 Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious

Hyde and McGuinness, Introducing Jung

Ted Friedman, “Jung and Lost”:

http://flowtv.org/?p=3865

Ursula K. LeGuin, “The Child and the Shadow” (CP)

 

T 1/28 The Lord of the Rings 

J.R.R. Tolkien, “Introduction to The Fellowship of the Ring” (CP)

J.R.R. Tolkien, “On Fairy Stories”:

http://bjorn.kiev.ua/librae/Tolkien/Tolkien_On_Fairy_Stories.htm

 

Th 1/30 Game of Thrones

 

 

Unit II: Folklore and Fantasy

 

T 2/4 The Wizard of Oz

Salman Rushdie, The Wizard of Oz

 

Th 2/6 Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, “Why Vampires Never Die”:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/31/opinion/31deltoro.html?_r=1

Laura Miller, “Real Men Have Fangs”:

http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB122540672952785957-lMyQjAxMDI4MjE1MTQxMDE2Wj.html

 

T 2/11 The Company of Wolves

Angela Carter, “The Company of Wolves” (CP)

Selections from Marjorie Tatar, ed., The Classic Fairy Tales (CP)

 

Th 2/13 Firefly

 

T 2/18 Where the Wild Things Are

Alison Lurie, “Something Wonderful Out of Almost Nothing”:

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/jul/12/something-wonderful-out-almost-nothing/

 

Th 2/20 Dollhouse

 

T 2/25 Spirited Away

Margaret Talbot, “The Auteur of Anime” (CP)

James W. Boyd and Tetsuya Nishimura, “Shinto Perspectives in Miyazaki’s Anime Film Spirited Away,” The Journal of Religion and Film 8.2 (October 2004):

http://www.unomaha.edu/jrf/Vol8No2/boydShinto.htm

Norkio T. Reider, “Spirited Away: Film of the Fantastic and Evolving Japanese Folk Symbols,” Film Criticism 29.3 (2005): 4-27:

http://www.corneredangel.com/amwess/papers/spirited_away.pdf

Aaron Sherwood, “Characterization, Narrative Structure and Mythopoeia in the Films of Hayao Miyazaki” (2006):

http://www.nausicaa.net/miyazaki/essay/files/AaronSherwood_Mythopoeia.pdf

 

Th 2/27 Lost

Jason Mittell, “Sites of Participation: Wiki Fandom and the Case of Lostpedia”:

http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/article/view/118/117

 

T 3/4 Pan’s Labyrinth and Sandman

Neil Gaiman, The Sandman: Season of Mists

 

Th 3/6 The Walking Dead

Take-home midterm due

 

Unit III: Science Fiction

 

T 3/11 Metropolis

J. P. Telotte, “The Seductive Text of Metropolis” (CP)

William Gibson, “The Gernsback Continuum” (CP)

Andrew Ross, “Getting Out of the Gernsback Continuum” (CP)

David Hartwell, excerpt from Age of Wonders (CP)

 

Th 3/13 The Twilight Zone

 

T 3/18 Spring Break – no class

 

Th 3/20 Spring Break – no class

 

T 3/25 Bride of Frankenstein

Gary Morris, “Sexual Subversion: The Bride of Frankenstein”:

http://www.brightlightsfilm.com/19/19_bride1.html

 

Th 3/27 Star Trek

Henry Jenkins, “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations” (CP)

Ted Friedman, “Capitalism: The Final Frontier”:

http://www.tedfriedman.com/essays/2005/03/capitalism_the.html

 

T 4/1 Blade Runner

Donna Haraway, “A Manifesto for Cyborgs” (CP)

Fredric Jameson, “Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism” (CP)

 

Th 4/3 The X-Files

Carl Jung, “Flying Saucers as Modern Myths” (CP)

 

T 4/8 Brazil and Ender’s Game

Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game

 

Th 4/10 Battlestar Galactica

Spencer Ackerman, “Battlestar: Iraqtica,”

http://www.slate.com/id/2151425/nav/tap2/

 

T 4/15 The Matrix

David Weberman, “The Matrix: Simulation and the Postmodern Age” (CP)

Slavoj Zizek, “The Matrix, or the Two Sides of Perversion” (CP)

Aleksandar Hemon, “Beyond the Matrix”:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/09/10/120910fa_fact_hemon

 

Th 4/17 World of Warcraft and The Guild

Download and play the free World of Warcraft trial:

http://www.worldofwarcraft.com

 

T 4/22 Children of Men and The Age of Miracles

Karen Thompson Walker, The Age of Miracles

 

Th 4/24 Futurama

 

 

Take-Home Final due via email to tedf@gsu.edu on Thursday, May 1 by 5 PM

 

 

 

Screening Schedule

 

You are responsible for viewing assigned films in time for class discussion. Screenings are held on Tuesdays at 11 AM in 406 Arts & Humanities.

 

1/14 No screening

1/21 Star Wars

1/28 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

2/4 The Wizard of Oz

2/11 The Company of Wolves

2/18 Where the Wild Things Are

2/25 Spirited Away

3/4 Pan’s Labyrinth

3/11 Metropolis

3/18 Spring Break – no class

3/25 Bride of Frankenstein

4/1 Blade Runner

4/8 Brazil

4/15 The Matrix

4/22 Children of Men

 

 

 

Assignments

 

The class assignments add up to total of 100 possible points. Your final grade for the class is determined by adding up your grades for each assignment, adjusting for attendance, then applying the final number to the following scale:

 

A+ 100-98 B+ 89-88 C+ 79-78 D 69-65

A 97-93 B 87-83 C 77-70 F 64-0

A- 92-90 B- 82-80

 

TV Presentation – 10 points (Film 4280 only)

As part of a 2-3 person team, you will give a presentation on an influential fantasy or science fiction television show. Your team has two presentation options:

 

Research Presentation: Each member of the team gives a 5-minute presentation on a different aspect of the show: 1) the creator/creators; 2) the economics of the production, including available budget and ratings information; 3) audience responses. Each member hands in a list of sources. A minimum of five separate sources is required for each member’s presentation. (Wikipedia can be consulted to find sources but does not itself count toward the five sources.) PowerPoint is not necessary, but short video clips (such as creator interviews, news stories, and fan films) should be incorporated into each presentation when available.

 

Creative Presentation: Alternately, the presentation team can choose to collectively produce a short film about the TV show. Options include an edited selection of clips with voice-over commentary, a series of interviews with viewers, or a fan film.

 

Book Presentations – 5 points each (Film 6280 only)

Graduate students will read two additional books of their choice, one scholarly book and one work of fiction, and will give short a presentation on each in two separately scheduled meetings with the other graduate students.

 

Take-Home Midterm – 45 points (Film 4280 and 6280)

The take-home midterm will require you to relate concepts from the readings and lectures to the assigned films, series, novels and comics. Undergraduate and graduate students will take the same exam, but graduate students will be expected to submit more detailed answers. Due March 7.

 

Take-Home Final – 45 points (Film 4280 and 6280)

The take-home final will be structured just like the midterm, covering the second half of the semester. Due April 30.

 

Attendance Adjustment

As Woody Allen put it, “80 percent of success is showing up.” It’s less than that in this formula, but the bottom line is that you can’t contribute to the class if you’re not there. You’re allowed one unexcused absence for the semester. After that, each unexcused absence subtracts one point from your grade total. Excused absences include medical and family emergencies. You will be expected to schedule any employment responsibilities around this class, or accept the consequences of missed classes for your grade. If you do need to miss a class, please contact me ahead of time, and make arrangements to catch up on missed material.

 

 

 

Policies

 

Office Hours

Office hours are by appointment. I’m usually available to meet before and after every class.

 

Late Papers

Late midterms are penalized at the rate of 1/2 point per day overdue. Late finals cannot be accepted without an extension.

 

Rewrites

Rewrites of any midterm question are welcome. The final grade on the question will be the average of the original grade and the rewritten version’s grade. Rewrites of the final are unavailable, but rough drafts of the final can be submitted for feedback through April 23.

 

Incompletes

Incompletes may be given only in special hardship cases. Incompletes will not be used merely for extending the time for completion of course requirements.

 

Assessment

Your constructive assessment of this course plays an indispensable role in shaping education at Georgia State. Upon completing the course, please take time to fill out the online course evaluation.

 

Disability

Students who wish to request accommodation for a disability may do so by registering with the Office of Disability Services. Students may only be accommodated upon issuance by the Office of Disability Services of a signed Accommodation Plan and are responsible for providing a copy of that plan to instructors of all classes in which accommodations are sought.

 

Changes to the Syllabus

This syllabus provides a general plan for the course. Deviations may be necessary.

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