Fantastical writing has historically served as a platform to deliver social critiques. In this course, students will read a selection of speculative fiction texts through a social justice lens and analyze how authors use magical elements to frame conversations around systems of oppression. We will discuss the use of fantastic metaphor to explain, analyze, and critique real-world oppression. We will also discuss the creation of worlds different from our own, whether new or evolved from ours, and how these new worlds portray different systems of oppression. In cases of entirely new worlds, which systems of oppression are still in place? Which are not? Which systems of oppression are new or unique to this world, and how might those reflect more familiar conflicts? In cases of worlds similar to ours or in our future, what has changed and what remains the same? How do authors describe and portray these worlds in their writing?
These questions will be used to address how an author can explore, suggest, or critique possible forms of resistance against oppression through the creation of fictional universes. What options are available to the characters under the various systems of oppression they face? Where and how can they find agency, and how do their attempts at finding agency reflect the struggles of real-world marginalized peoples?
Authors to be read will include N.K. Jemisin, Ken Liu, Nnedi Okorafor, and Bogi Takács. Although the course focuses on written work, students are encouraged to make references to any and all speculative works during class discussion, including movies, TV shows, video games, and music. Writing prompts will focus on creating fantastical worlds and building complex characters within them.
July 12th to August 9th
Continous Access to Online Discussion Platform
Wednesdays 7-8pm EST on Zoom
Who should take this class?
This class is for writers interested in addressing oppression in their work, writers interested in magical elements, as well as fans of any kind of science fiction and fantasy. Students do not need to have previous experience working with genre fiction specifically, but should arrive prepared to respond to guided critical thinking questions regarding the texts.
Students should also come with an open mind to discuss their reactions to the readings and respect when their peers' reactions may differ.