Alternative Worlds: Sci Fi, Young Adult and Speculative Fiction 2023-24
School Of Arts, Culture And Language
Module - Semester 1
'Alternative Worlds: Sci Fi, Young Adult and Speculative Fiction' investigates the genres of science fiction, Young Adult and Speculative Fiction, and their influence in contemporary culture. The module considers how alternative worlds emerge from, and offer imaginative insight into, present-day concerns including anxiety about the future, the transition from teenager to young adult, mental health, technology, environmental crisis, social and political change. It investigates ways in which these genres offer us everything from escapism and reactionary politics on the one extreme, right through to hope, acceptance of difference, and the prospect of radical change on the other. The module will begin by focusing on science fiction before exploring the blurred edges of this genre, especially in relation to contemporary Young Adult and speculative fictions, and concluding with a look at ultra-contemporary fantastic trends (such as bio-punk and eco-apocalyse). The module will also offer the opportunity to watch and study some great films in these genres.
The module's syllabus will be updated each year, but students can expect some of the following themes:
- differences, similarities and trajectories between and within the genres of science fiction, Young Adult and speculative fiction
- uses of alternative worlds
- future anxiety
- transition to young adulthood
- mental health -technology and the posthuman
- environmental crisis
- social and political breakdown
- radical change
Typical authors may include: H.G. Wells, Philip K. Dick, Margaret Atwood, Octavia Butler, Ursula K. Le Guin, Michael Faber, Veronica Roth and Suzanne Collins.
Excellent Typically, work graded A- to A** (or 70 to 100) will show many of the following qualities: • Discusses ideas with confidence and precision • Demonstrates maturity and sophistication • Displays deep knowledge of the subject in question; the answer is totally relevant • Shows independent, analytical and clear thought • Gives evidence of substantial and relevant reading • Shows great accuracy in expression, displaying total mastery over all aspects of the language • Shows occasional signs of brilliance and originality of thought • In creative work: displays considerable originality • Command over medium; may have potential for publication/production
Good Typically, work graded B- to B+ (or 60 to 69) will show many of the following qualities: • Discusses ideas adeptly • Most of the arguments about a specific field are well-aired • Displays knowledge of the subject in question; the answer is relevant • Shows analytical and clear thought • Gives evidence of relevant reading • Shows accuracy in expression with mastery over language. • A few minor errors here and there. • Signs of creative thought deserve a higher position within the class • In creative work: shows signs of originality, having understood the requirements of the medium • Plans of well-balanced and full answers, despite some gaps
Satisfactory Typically, work graded C- to C+ (or 50 to 59) will show many of the following qualities: • Discusses ideas, but without much confidence • A respectable effort but not showing any unusual talent; a few flashes of originality here and there • Makes reference to the subject in question, but some important matters not mentioned • Fairly clear thought on most occasions, and the arguments relevant on the whole • Evidence of having read some works associated with the field in question • Quite accurate expression, though the points may sometimes be presented clumsily • Signs of conscientious work deserve a higher position within the class • In creative work: not having quite mastered the requirements of the medium • Evidence of planning in the answers, but a lack of coherence at times; undisciplined and unsure at times
Pass Typically, work graded D- to D+ (or 40 to 49) will show many of the following qualities: • Unsure and lacking in confidence when discussing ideas • Referring to the subject in question in a superficial manner • Making an effort to provide fairly balanced answers • Some points in the argument irrelevant to the topic • Little evidence of background reading • Some uncertainty over language and syntax • Strengths and weaknesses fairly balanced; occasionally clumsy and unimaginative • In creative work: superficial • Not succeeding in mastering the requirements of the medium
- Analyse the relationship between form and content in contemporary sci-fi, speculative and Young Adult fiction.
- Discuss the relationship between alternative worlds and their historic and contemporary cultural contexts.
- Identify and analyse key tropes, themes and practices in contemporary fiction, drawing on appropriate secondary reading.
- Recognise and describe a variety of contemporary genres and sub genres within the fields of sci-fi, speculative fiction and Young Adult fiction, and examine individual texts within their generic context.
Close Reading in Context. 1000 words. Students will choose a literary extract and produce a 500-word close reading, reflecting on the techniques and literary strategies employed in the selection. In addition, they will choose from a selection of relevant historic sources and produce a 500-word commentary examining how the contextual source might inform our reading of, and perspective on, the literary text.
Critical Essay Students will write a critical essay answering one of the pre-released questions.