Center for the Study of Science Fiction
2014 - 2015 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


Fall 2014
Spring 2015
Summer 2015
Interdisciplinary Courses
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: the 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 links below for full information about the science-fiction programs available through the Center for the Study of Science Fiction and the University of Kansas:

Fall Semester 2014

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.

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.


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, is approved for KU Core Goal 6, and is also relevant to Goal 3, among others. Listed as ENGL 507 and HWC 510, and graduate students can petition to enroll through Investigation and Conference. 

James Gunn teaches this new, 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 Osher Institute.


2015 Science Fiction Summer Institute

(Click here for the SF Summer flyer in .doc form or .pdf form.)

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.

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.

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 is offered to alums of that program only.

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 that alternates between the SF short story and the SF novel. For 2015, we study the SF short story; 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).

Get away from mundane life to a place where your only job is to write. Since 2002.

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 than later.

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.


Relevant Interdisciplinary Courses
for SF Students

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 cmckit@ku.edu and give me your course name and number, a description, and any relevant links to syllabus or other online materials.


Other Possible Upcoming Courses

Speculative-fiction scholars need to confidently wield a variety of critical tools for research and publication in the field. Important for graduate students studying speculative fiction. Likely to be listed as ENGL 690 (TBA).

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.

updated 10/19/2014

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