Intensive Institute on Science Fiction Literature
Become fluent in SF by becoming familiar with some of the most-influential works
that shaped the genre. Since 1975.
The University of Kansas continues its role as the leader in science fiction education. I can do no greater service to teachers than to repeat the advice that I gave in Anatomy of Wonder 4: you should attend one of the Intensive English Institutes on the Teaching of Science Fiction offered at the University of Kansas each summer.
For 2015, the Intensive Institute on Science Fiction Literature runs for 12 consecutive days, June 15–26. Students are strongly encouraged to attend at least the Saturday and Sunday events of the Campbell Conference (which runs June 12–14) before classroom discussion begins, and the Thursday and Friday events. Basic Conference membership is now included free to all Gunn Center summer-program registrants; note that you are an SF Institute student in your online-registration form (instructions here). You are also invited to attend the Awards Ceremony and Banquet on Friday evening, but you must still register and pay for the meal if you wish to eat. The Conference usually brings the winners of the Campbell Award and Sturgeon Award to the campus as guests, as well as other special guests, and it's a great way to meet professionals in the field.
Institute topics alternate each year between the short stories in the first four volumes of James Gunn's six-volume historical anthology, The Road to Science Fiction; and 25 novels. See below for the full syllabus of both versions. This summer's (2015) discussion focuses on the SF short story. Next year's (2016) discussion will focus on the SF novel. A variant version of the SF Institute is also available as a full-semester course, alternating with the prior summer's SF Institute topic. Thus, this year's Fall-semester Literature of SF course focuses on the SF novel.
We usually meet in the same lovely scholarship-hall lobby where the
SF Workshops meet - KU
Housing assigns space late
in the Spring (information for out-of-town guests and students is also available
The purpose of the Institute is to provide an understanding of contemporary and future science fiction through studying the history of SF. We read a diversity of influential SF and discuss how the genre got to be what it is today by comparing stories and their place in the evolution of SF, from the earliest prototypical examples through recent work. Permission from Chris McKitterick must be obtained at least a month before the first session so that reading can be completed before the class begins.
As in the past, Gunn Center Director Chris McKitterick leads the course. Founding Director James Gunn - one of the pioneer teachers of science fiction - might join the discussions on occasion, but to be sure to have time to talk with Gunn, join us beforehand for lunch (noon-12:50pm most days).
So as not to compete with other summer English courses - which are almost all scheduled for the morning hours - Institute sessions begin promptly at 1:00pm and normally end by 4:00pm, though sometimes discussions might run a bit longer, and attendees usually gather for dinner together each evening in beautiful downtown Lawrence. Class likely meets in a lounge in Krehbiel Scholarship Hall, 1301 Ohio St. Classes meet on both Saturday and Sunday between the first and second weeks, and students are strongly encouraged to attend the Campbell Conference weekend beforehand, as well.
Housing and meals, if desired, can be arranged separately. The group usually gathers each evening for dinner at lovely downtown Lawrence restaurants. Information on housing and a form to indicate interest in the Institute or Workshop can be found below.
Try to complete all the readings before the course begins; students who fail to do so quickly fall behind, and everyone is expected to participate in the discussions. There are no exams, but students write short (one page or less) responses to each day's set of readings - in advance of the day's session - and a final project. We will have a Blackboard interface available for uploading papers in early June for those who wish to get started early.
Your grade (if taking the class for credit) is based on attendance, participation, response papers, and a final paper due the week after the course ends. This paper may be one of the following:
Permission to enroll must be obtained from Chris McKitterick well before the course begins (at least one month) so you have time to read the course materials in advance.
We alternate between studying and discussing the short stories and novels from the reading lists below.
Short-Fiction Reading List (Summer 2015 and Fall 2016)
In Summer 2015 and Fall 2016, we'll read and discuss the first four (of six) volumes of The Road to Science Fiction anthology, edited by James Gunn:
Full details about which stories we'll be reading and discussing on each day is available in the syllabus. For further reading, Gunn has also edited two more volumes (recommended, but not required):
You can also order the revised editions of the first four volumes directly from Scarecrow Press: http://www.scarecrowpress.com/. Use the Quick Search keywords "James Gunn."
You will find this handy Readings Guide very useful in finding the stories in our various volumes.
Novels Reading List (Fall 2015 and Summer 2016)Here is this year's reading order:
Some of these volumes might be difficult to find, so we urge you seek copies early and, when books are out of print, search used bookstores and online services (we provide links to two major online booksellers after each title, above). The University of Kansas Jayhawk Ink bookstore tries to always have copies of these books on hand. Address:
Here is the full list of this year's novels. NOTE: This list has been updated over the years to reflect recent important works that helped shape the genre.
Here are the books that have been removed since 2008 - they are still important and recommended works for understanding the history of the SF novel, but we only have so much time to discuss everything:
The Center holds a few copies of many of these books, so if you are local to Lawrence or are in town for our other summer programs, check with us to see if we can lend you a copy. These are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and our library is supplied by previous students donating copies after completing their course.
This year, sessions will be held in a lobby in Rieger Scholarship Hall at 1323 Ohio Street, a brand new residence located near the Kansas Student Union, Oread Hotel, and downtown. Classes meet every day of the period including Saturday and Sunday. Institute sessions begin at 1:00pm and normally end around 4:00pm. Students often gather for lunch beforehand (usually in the Student Union, just up the hill), and for dinner, movies, and further discussions in the evening.
You can find the SF Novels syllabus here.
The Institute offers three hours of KU undergraduate credit as English 506 "Science Fiction" or for KU graduate credit as English 790 "Studies in a Genre" (write early if you wish to take the course for credit but are not a KU student).
The course may also be taken not-for-credit, but you must first get permission from
Chris McKitterick. Most non-KU students take this route.
To take this course through the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction for professionalization (not for credit), reserve your spot by contacting Chris McKitterick (firstname.lastname@example.org) between January and May - earlier registration is better, as the course often fills! If you are accepted, we'll contact you with registration instructions. If required for a non-credit student, we can provide a certificate of completion for the course; just let us know.
If you are not a current KU student but wish to take the course for graduate credit, you need to apply as a non-degree-seeking graduate student. Fill out this KU application form and supply a copy of an official transcript showing proof of an undergraduate degree. On the application form is an area for comments/notes. Indicate that you wish to enroll only for the summer SF Teaching Institute (ENGL 790). You must enroll using the KU online enrollment system, and you need a permission code from Lydia Ash (email@example.com) sometime during April. You can officially enroll for graduate credit after you have the code, but be sure to enroll by June 1 or KU will charge a late-enrollment fee. If you have any questions about the application or enrollment process, please contact Lydia Ash.
KU students register for and pay for this course as normal.
To attend the Campbell Conference, be sure to register for that, as well - just because it's free for Workshop attendees doesn't mean you don't have to register! Your registration is not complete until you have sent your check by the deadline.
Contact us for any logistical help you might need in getting settled for your stay.
Diversity and Disability
Everyone enjoys equal access to the Gunn Center's offerings, and we actively encourage students and scholars from diverse backgrounds to study with us. All courses offered by Gunn Center faculty are also available to be taken not-for-credit for professionalization purposes by community members (if space is available). Click here to see the Center's Diversity Statement.
The Academic Achievement and Access Center (AAAC) coordinates accommodations and services for all eligible KU students. If you have a disability for which you wish to request accommodation and have not contacted the AAAC, please do so as soon as possible. Their office is located in 22 Strong Hall; their phone number is (785)864-4064 (V/TTY). Also please contact us privately about your needs in this course.
For credit-earning students, cost is the University of Kansas tuition for 3 credits as English 506 "Science Fiction" (undergraduate) or English 790 "Studies in a Genre" (graduate). Non-residents should expect to pay more for KU credit.
To take this course not-for-credit, the cost is $250. Please complete your registration and make all payments before you arrive.
Basic Campbell Conference membership is now included free to all Gunn Center summer-program registrants; note that you are an SF Institute student in your online-registration form (instructions here). You are also invited to attend the Awards Ceremony on Friday evening, but you must still register and pay for the Banquet meal if you wish to eat.
Dorm and meal costs rise the longer you stay, of course, so plan appropriately. Meals vary in cost depending on where you eat.
As soon as you get approval to be part of the Institute, please send a check made out to the University of Kansas in the spring. We require that not-for-credit students send their reservation and check by May 20, or we might not be able to reserve a position in the course.
Our official dorm housing for out-of-town attendees is likely to be one of the lounges in Rieger or Krehbiel Scholarship Hall at 1323 Ohio Street, a new residence located near the Kansas Student Union, Oread Hotel, and downtown. Rooms share a bathroom, either with an adjacent room or down the hall (3 stalls and showers/bath per 6 rooms), and have a sink and counter space for a microwave or other small kitchen equipment. Other building amenities include a lovely wraparound porch with seating (including a chair-swing or two), basketball court, refrigerator, coffee and tea equipment, and many private study areas. They are conveniently located just down the hill from the KU Student Union and a few blocks' walk from lovely downtown Lawrence. Be sure to let Lydia Ash know if you have special needs.
Dormitory rooms are available at the following rates. These may vary slightly each year.
Note: Prices have gone up
dramatically this year, but we do not wish to pass on the increase. If you'd
like to help keep housing prices low for future attendees, please consider
making a donation to help the Gunn Center cover our losses! Use the button below
to use a credit card, or write a check made out to CSSF. Thanks!
If you wish to stay in a dorm, you must make dorm reservations by late May. Please pay for your room in advance once you hear from Lydia Ash about this year's final rate. Check-out is at noon.
Check out VisitLawrence.com for local hotel information.
Meals are available in a variety of places, including the Kansas Union
and a myriad of local restaurants. Check out
Lawrence.com for a list of just a
few of the local eating establishments. We head downtown each evening for a
diversity of group dinners for all those interested!
Transportation from Airport to Lawrence
Many transport services offer rides between the Kansas City International (MCI - the "M" is for "Mid-Continent") airport and Lawrence, including:
Here's a map showing where KU is located in Eastern Kansas:
Kansas Union map (in .pdf format).
Google Maps centered on the KU Kansas Union.
Lawrence in the Summer
For anyone who hasn't visited, Lawrence is wonderful, a lively small city in the Kaw River valley, filled with art, events and activities. The location of the University of Kansas, Lawrence is situated about 40 miles from Kansas City and 20 miles from Topeka. Summers can be hot, but classrooms and housing are air-conditioned.
Among its many amenities, the University of Kansas has a large science-fiction collection and good reference collections; museums of natural history and art; and sports, theater, and concerts. Lawrence has many excellent restaurants and shopping and recreational opportunities. Kansas City is less than an hour away. Nighttime opportunities include movies, dinner, concerts, and star-gazing sessions.
The nearest major airport is Kansas City International, about 55 miles from
Lawrence. Transportation to Lawrence from Kansas City International can be
arranged through one of several airport shuttle services. By car, Lawrence is at
the intersection of U.S. 59 and
Contact us for any logistical help you
might need in getting settled for your stay:
CSSF@ku.edu, Lydia Ash (firstname.lastname@example.org), Chris McKitterick (email@example.com), or James Gunn (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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