Statement on Diversity
For this academic year, we offer the following CSSF courses and events at
the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas. Note that unforeseen circumstances
might affect availability of courses more than six months out, but this schedule
outlines our current plan. We also offer thesis advising for MA or MFA students
studying speculative fiction; contact Kij
Johnson or Christopher McKitterick if you wish
to work with them.
The Center currently offers two SF awards for University of Kansas students:
James E. Gunn Award for Science Fiction Writing and
the Scholarship in Science Fiction Studies, and
we plan to expand financial support soon thanks to generous donors.
Click the titles or links below for full information about the science-fiction programs
available through the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction and the University
2015 Spring Semester
Science, Technology, and Society:
Examining the Future Through a Science-Fiction Lens
Explore the future through reading and discussing nonfiction and extrapolative work. Since
Science and technology offer countless benefits to individuals and to societies while presenting new challenges.
In this course we read and discuss
nonfiction and science fiction to explore the past, present, and possible future
effects of science and technology on society and humankind. The only thing
certain about our future is that it will be different than today! Participants
write weekly reading responses, a mid-term paper, a research paper or creative
work as final project, and take part in a group presentation. Everyone leads at
least one session's discussion. This is a capstone course for the major, officially satisfies the Humanities requirement and KU Core Goal 6,
and is a featured Honors course. Listed as ENGL 507,
HWC 510 for Honors students,
and graduate students can enroll as ENGL 690 or through Investigation and
Conference (ENGL 998).
Critical Approaches to Speculative
scholars need to confidently wield a variety of critical tools for research and
publication in the field. Having a solid foundation in traditional and emerging critical approaches is vital for the publishing and research futures of advanced
This graduate seminar prepares students planning to undertake serious scholarship on speculative fiction. It surveys the top SF scholars (Aldiss, Gunn, Hartwell, Kessel, Kelly,
Panshin, Pohl, Scholes, Suvin, Vandermeer, Wollheim, and more) and their approaches to the major SF movements (Pulps, Golden Age, New Wave, Cyberpunk, New Space Opera, New Weird, and more).
Students read and discuss a variety of critical essays and pieces of fiction, then apply these approaches to the fiction. To prepare for professional work in the field,
students are encouraged to submit their papers to the important critical SF journals and present them at relevant conferences.
Available for the first time since 1993 as ENGL 998.
Syllabus coming soon.
The "Real" World
of Science Fiction
James Gunn teaches
this 3-week course as part of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at
the University of Kansas.
"We live in a science-fiction world," Isaac Asimov said, and Arthur C. Clarke added,
"Science fiction is the only realistic fiction, because it is the only fiction that incorporates the basic fact that the world is changing." This course discusses what science fiction is, how it got to be that way, how it differs from mainstream fiction and even fantasy, and how to read it for the greatest understanding and enjoyment.
Offered Tuesdays in
April: 15, 22, and 29, from 2:00pm
- 4:00pm at the
KU Continuing Education building on
1515 Saint Andrews Drive in Lawrence, Kansas. The Osher Institute is committed to creating accessible and innovative learning environments throughout Kansas and the Greater Kansas City area, with special focus on participants age 50 and over, although anyone can participate.
Sign up through the
2015 Science Fiction Summer Institute
Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop
Offered May 31 - June 12
Learn how to write SF that sells. Using the short-story form, we help you master the elements that
create great stories. Since 1985.
Using the short-story form, this annual two-week residential writing workshop
has helped writers who have just begun to publish or who need the final bit of insight or skill
understand how to master the elements that create great stories that editors
want and readers love. Become part of the writing community: Author, SF scholar, and CSSF Director Christopher McKitterick leads the workshop, guest authors (for 2015
John Kessel and James Gunn) join the discussion, and you
can build long-lasting bonds with other writers. Can be taken for professionalization,
for undergraduate credit in special circumstances, or for graduate credit as ENGL 757.
SF/F Novel Writing Workshop
Offered May 31 - June 12
Learn how to transform your book idea into a successful project. Since 2004.
Award-winning author, KU Professor, and CSSF Associate Director Kij
Johnson leads this annual two-week residential
writing workshop, during which attendees
generate the best possible chapters and an outline for a writer's submission
packet, learn what's necessary to complete or revise the novel with an eye
toward publication, and build long-lasting bonds with other members of the writing community.
June 12 - 14
Connect with other SF authors, scholars, editors, and fans while celebrating
the best SF of the year. In an intimate setting, discuss topics relevant to the
human condition and the science-fiction field. Since 1979.
The Campbell Conference is the core of our annual summer program and features intelligent and informed discussion as well as readings, signings, and talks by a variety
of important SF authors, editors, and scholars. It is the venue for presenting the
John W. Campbell Memorial
Award for the best science-fiction novel of the year, and the
Theodore Sturgeon Memorial
Award for the best short science fiction of the year. This event is one of the genre's best-kept secrets!
"Repeat Offenders" Novel Writer's Workshop
Offered June 14 - 26
Return to the scene of the crime to reinforce the lessons from your last
workshop, and reconnect with other alums. Since 2010.
This annual follow-up workshop to Kij
Johnson's annual two-week residential
writing workshop is is offered to alums of that
Intensive Institute on Science Fiction
Literature: The SF Short Story
Offered June 15 - 26
Become fluent in SF by becoming familiar with some of the most-influential
that shaped the genre. Since 1975.
This annual two-week intensive course that
alternates between the SF short story and the SF novel. For 2015, we study the SF
in 2016, we will study the SF novel. Can be taken for
professionalization, or for KU credit as
ENGL 506 (undergraduate) or ENGL 790 (graduate).
Offered May 31 - June 26
(overlaps the Workshops, the Institute, or both)
Escape mundane life to a place where your only job is to write. Since
The annual Writer's Retreat is offered for
a two-week (or four-week) period corresponding to the
SF/F Workshops and
SF Institute. Your stay corresponds to either the
Writing Workshops or the SF Institute dates - or both. We limit enrollment to 12 due to
space concerns, so be sure to let us know that you're interested sooner rather
and Request Forms
To attend some or all of our CSSF Summer activities or to enroll in a regular
course not-for-credit, see each page for application and registration
Fall Semester 2014
and the Popular Media
Join SF author Chris McKitterick in a journey
of exploration as we investigate how
science fiction changes and evolves as it embraces (and is embraced by) various
media forms. New for 2014.
Through readings, viewings, and
other interactive experiences,
this new course
examines science fiction across a range of media, including film, television, literature, comics, gaming, fanfic, and more. We will survey the genre's history, trace its development
across multiple media as new generations of creatives have taken advantage of
new tools to respond to changing
social conditions, and discuss the effects that - through various
media forms - SF has on today's expression of what it means to be human living
through ever-accelerating change. Students write weekly responses as they read a
diversity of materials, view films and other multimedia expressions, participate in discussions,
explore their unique understanding and interpretation of the genre, and then
create and share personal visions through multimedia responses. Offered as ENGL 203.
Literature of Science Fiction:
The SF Short Story
Become fluent in SF by becoming familiar with some of the most-influential short works that shaped the genre. Since 2012.
This course alternates between the SF short story and the SF novel. In
Fall 2013, we studied
the SF novel; for Fall 2014, we will study the SF short story. Listed as
ENGL 506/690, and graduate students can also petition to enroll through
Investigation and Conference.
Relevant Interdisciplinary KU Courses
for SF Students
African and African-American Studies
Professor Tony Bolden
"A central element of my pedagogy on a music and aesthetic called funk involves
Afrofuturism. In fact, the musician George Clinton was engaging the concept long before the term was coined. Jimi Hendrix, whose music influenced Clinton, was also interested in SF. My PhD is in literature, so much of my approach is literary. But much of my independent research has been in musicology, ethnomusicology, and dance and performance. So I combine of these approaches when I engage music critically."
Astrobiology and Astrobiophysics
Want to study the origin, evolution, and future of life across the universe?
KU is one of the few places you can do that! Here's a quick intro:
Astrobiology Minor (Undergraduate)
Starting in late 2009, the KU Physics Department has offered a minor in
The minor is open to KU
undergraduates, but is especially appealing to students already majoring
in one of the key core areas identified in the program: Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry,
Geology, and Physics. KU is only the third university in the country to offer this minor.
Astrobiology is conventionally concerned with the nature and detectability of
life outside the Earth, but has grown considerably in the era of Mars rovers and the
detection of planets orbiting other stars. Another aspect, and the one emphasized in the
related research done at KU, concerns the effects of extraterrestrial events such as
Solar flares on the Earth and its biota.
This subject is inherently multidisciplinary, so the coursework for a minor reflects
this. This makes it a good companion for natural science and hard-science
fiction majors who want a broad foundation in the other natural sciences, while picking up some upper-division
work at the same time. Research in astrobiology is an option.
This minor is certified in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and Center
personnel are affil
here to see the program overview (.pdf), and
here to see complete program requirements (.pdf).
Astrobiophysics is concerned with the effect of astrophysical processes on
life on Earth, as well as effects on possible life elsewhere, as distinguished
from astrobiology, which is concerned with finding extraterrestrial life. A wide
variety of research areas meet here, including astrophysics, astronomy,
biochemistry, evolutionary biology, paleontology, atmospheric science, and a
host of others.
One current KU Astrobiophysics project
is funded by NASA.
Click here to see the KU Astrobiophysics Working Group page.
203: "Wings as Weapons from The Iliad to Iron Man"
"The syllabus is still in flux, but currently includes Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Rudyard Kipling, and of course
The Iliad (the epic poem) and Iron Man (the film)."
Course flyer image is to the right (click to see the full-size version):
ENGL 750: "Strange Stories: Victorian Literature and Evolutionary Science"
"It is common to think of the Victorians as hawkish social Darwinists who used
the theory of natural selection to support imperialist and eugenicist
ambitions. However both scientific and imaginative writers of the period
offer enormously diverse accounts of biological and social development, and
often foreground literature as a special sort of symbolic communication that
has the power to shape human destiny. In contrast with the efforts of
scientific racism to provide biological evidence for "primitive" and
"advanced" characteristics among different human groups, these writers
portray a fluid evolutionary process in which fantastic landscapes not only
map out possible evolutionary futures but also aim to shape how readers
navigate social environments of the present. With extraordinary boldness,
they also aim to influence how behavioral and cognitive human traits either
flourish or decline. Through its focus on evolutionary theory, this course will bring a key
preoccupation of the Victorian period to bear on both cultural and
disciplinary tensions of our own time. What complexities in the history of
evolutionary thought are overlooked when we subordinate culture to biology?
What role can literary studies play in the investigation of human
development? In order to address such questions, we will read a combination
of: 1) evolutionary science texts; 2) children's literature that explores
the impact of imaginative forms on development; 3) speculative fiction that
depicts the evolutionary outcomes of particular social behaviors; and 4) a
combination of critical articles and cognitive and evolutionary approaches
to the analysis of literary texts. Evolutionary science readings will
include extracts from works by Charles Darwin, J.B. Lamarck, Herbert
Spencer, Samuel Butler, T.H. Huxley, and Ernst Haeckel. The novels and
stories we will read are as follows: Edwin Abbott, Flatland; Samuel
Butler, Erewhon; Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland;
Rudyard Kipling, Just So Stories; Charles Kingsley, The Water
Babies; George Macdonald; The Princess and the Goblin; William
Morris, News from Nowhere; H. G. Wells, The Time Machine and
The Island of Dr. Moreau. Participants will offer a presentation and
two short essays leading to a final research paper."
Creative-Writing Workshops Open to SF
"I always welcome spec-fic
writers in my workshops."
FRENCH 900: "French Science Fiction"
Details coming soon.
SLAV 679: "Russian,
Polish, and Czech Science Fiction; 19th Century to Present"
Professor Vitaly Chernetsky
Details coming soon.
Check back soon for updates about upcoming, interdisciplinary course
offerings of interest to KU students who seek to study speculative fiction or other
disciplines that extrapolate about and explore the social, scientific,
technological, and expressive future of our world.
are interested in listing your course here, let us know! Contact
Chris McKitterick at
email@example.com and give me your course name and number, a description, and
any relevant links to syllabus or other online materials.
Other Possible Upcoming Courses
Science Fiction Youth Summer Camp
In the near future, we hope to offer the Science Fiction Youth Summer Camp, sponsored by the Center for the Study of Science Fiction.
Check back for updates. If you
are interested in helping organize or participate in this event, let us know!
The Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction
Statement on Diversity
Everyone enjoys equal access to the Center's offerings, and we actively
encourage students and scholars from diverse backgrounds to study with us.
Click here to see the full statement.