University of Delaware

'Fighting the Future'

New English course offering focuses on popular 'sci-fi' works


9:13 a.m., Nov. 28, 2012--Students in Siobhan Carroll’s English 167 class at the University of Delaware will not have to compete for survival in hostile arenas, nor will they be required to join a rebellion against machines in pursuit of reality. They will, however, discuss these topics and more during the new class to be offered during the spring semester.

The Department of English is offering English 167, “Fighting the Future from ‘The Hunger Games’ to ‘The Matrix’: The Dystopian Tradition in the 21st Century,” for all non-majors. The new course, which satisfies the College of Arts and Sciences “creative arts and humanities” requirement, will explore how contemporary literature, movies and television paint a grim picture of the future.

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Carroll, assistant professor of English, and Peter X. Feng, associate chair of the English department, have been planning this course since last spring. 

“Students from across the University come to the English department looking for courses that fulfill breadth requirements,” said Feng. “But we know that some students are wary of classes that require a lot of writing, so we tried to develop a course that taught basic concepts in literature and media studies without relying heavily on papers.” 

Carroll will help students investigate the dystopian theme prevalent in modern media. The course will cover classics such as George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale alongside popular recent works like Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash. The course will also cover recent films such as The Hunger Games, The Matrix, and Gattaca, as well as the television show, Revolution

The course is designed to facilitate discussion about the complexities included in media. 

“Students often come to English classrooms with sophisticated ideas about texts, but they don’t know how to express them. For example, you can take five minutes — or five pages — trying to explain the weird portrayal of the villains in the film 300. Or you can use the word ‘orientalist’ and have your audience instantly know what you mean,” said Carroll. 

Carroll will ask students to participate in on-line forums and small-group work. Students will not be required to write essays during the course. 

English 167 will meet every Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the spring semester from 2:30-3:20 p.m. There are no prerequisites for admittance. The course satisfies the College of Arts and Sciences Group A requirement.

For a more detailed look into the class, click here

Article by Kelley Bregenzer

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