Center for the Study of Science Fiction
2015 - 2016 Educational Directory

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.

-Dennis M. Kratz, Anatomy of Wonder 5

Spring 2015
2015 Science Fiction Summer
Fall 2015
Interdisciplinary Courses
SF Scholarships and Awards
Statement on Diversity

Science Fiction Studies at the University of Kansas

Each year we offer the following courses and educational 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.

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 of Kansas:


2015 Spring Semester

Explore the future through reading and discussing nonfiction and extrapolative work. Since 2005.

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).

Speculative-fiction 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 SF scholars.

This graduate seminar prepares students planning to undertake serious scholarship on speculative fiction. It surveys the top SF scholars (Aldiss, Atteberry, Gunn, Hartwell, Kessel, Kelly, Mendelsohn, Moskowitz, 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.

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 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 Osher Institute.

2015 Science Fiction Summer

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 it is 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. Plan to stay for the Campbell Conference - membership is included with Workshop registration!

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 novel-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. Plan to stay for the Campbell Conference - membership is included with Workshop registration!

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!

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 offered to alums of that program only.

Return to the scene of the crime to reinforce the lessons from your last workshop, and reconnect with other alums. New for 2015.

This new follow-up to Chris McKitterick's annual two-week residential Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop is offered to alums of that program only. If we get enough interest, we'll offer this for the first time this year!

Learn how to write SF and fantasy successfully for a younger audience. New for 2015.

Popular YA fantasy author Tessa Gratton leads this new, one-week residential YA-writing workshop. The Young Adult genre has been growing for decades. It has received wide recognition as a genre all its own since the turn of the 21st century when bookstores began creating specific YA sections, while at the same time, major awards began to split YA awards off from the rest of children's literature, and the community saw the rise of culture-shifting YA books and major movies. Writing in this genre comes with its own specific challenges, rewards, and controversies. During this workshop, you'll learn what makes YA unique and how to do it well.

Details and registration information coming soon, but start planning your June now! In the meantime, contact Tessa with questions:

Become fluent in SF by becoming familiar with some of the most-influential novels that shaped the genre. Since 1975.

This annual two-week intensive course alternates between the SF short story and novel, and is intended to give teachers, scholars, and interested students a solid background in the development of the genre's literature.

For 2015, we study the SF short story; in 2016, we will study the SF novel. Plan to arrive early enough to attend the Campbell Conference - membership is included in your registration! Can be taken for professionalization, or for KU credit as ENGL 506 (undergraduate) or ENGL 790 (graduate).

(Coming soon.) 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 information.

Fall Semester 2015

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 in 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.

Become fluent in SF by becoming familiar with some of the most-influential short works that shaped the genre. Since 2012.

Like the summer version of this course, this regular-semester version also alternates between the SF short story and the SF novel. In Fall 2014, we studied the SF short story; for Fall 2015, we will study the SF novel. Listed as ENGL 506/690, and graduate students can also petition to enroll through Investigation and Conference (ENGL 998).

Interdisciplinary SF Courses at KU

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."

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 astrobiology. 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

Click here to see the program overview (.pdf), and here to see complete program requirements (.pdf).

      Astrobiophysics (Graduate)      

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.

      ENGL 203: "Wings as Weapons from The Iliad to Iron Man"      

PhD GTA Aaron Long
"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"      

Professor Anna Neill
"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      

Professor Joseph Harrington
"I always welcome spec-fic writers in my workshops."

      FRENCH 900: "French Science Fiction"      

Professor Paul Scott
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.

If you are interested in listing your course here, let us know! Contact Chris McKitterick at and give me your course name and number, a description, and any relevant links to syllabus or other online materials.

Possible Future Courses

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!

And more to come - stay tuned!

Science Fiction Scholarships and Awards at KU

To assist students and scholars coming to the University of Kansas to study or write science fiction, the Gunn Center currently offers several scholarships and awards. See this page for instructions to apply and more information.

Donate! If you would like to donate to support SF studies at KU - either to honor a loved one or just to help students in need - please contact us, and we'll be more than happy to work with you! Please send Gunn Center Director Chris McKitterick a note at with any questions. We use KU Endowment accounts to ensure that all donations are safe and are used entirely and exclusively for the designated purpose.

Thanks to generous donors, we regularly expand financial support for SF studies at KU - stay tuned for more!

Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction
Statement on Diversity

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 full Diversity Statement

Last updated 3/25/2015

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