The Final Frontier: Science and Fiction in Twentieth-Century America

History 103S.002

Fall 2007
Instructor (text): 
2523 Tolman
Day & Time: 
Mon 12-2
Also listed 103D.010 Susan Marie Groppi received her Ph.D. in History from the University of California, Berkeley in 2006. Her research focuses on the life sciences in the United States, and particularly the influences of institutional structures on the development of science. She has an ongoing interest in the relationship between science and society as expressed in popular culture.

Science fiction has been called the mythology of the scientific age, a mirror of the modern Zeitgeist, and the only literary form capable of capturing the human experience in this highly technological age. Any statement so broadly constructed almost necessarily contains elements of both truth and hyperbole, and these statements are no exception, but the fact remains that science fiction is, at its heart, a literary (and cinematic) form that deals directly with the relationship between science and society. In this course, we will be using science fiction as the framework for an examination of the interactions between science, technology, society, and culture in twentieth century America. In the process, students will develop close reading and critical analysis skills related to the use of fictional and cultural resources as historical sources. Course readings will be drawn from both fiction and nonfiction, and students will be required to undertake individual research and writing projects during the course of the semester.