From Frankenstein to the Matrix: Introduction to Science Fiction

Do scientists play God? Is it possible to understand an alien? Will machines develop such sophistication that they enslave humans? Do science and technology show the way to a future utopia? Or dystopia? Or neither? Literature and film provide a means of exploring fundamental fears and hopes about science and technology. Also, science and technology have meant different things to different people at different periods of time. Again the study of literature helps: by placing novels, plays and films in the context of their times, we can understand the place of science and technology in different contexts. The aim of this course is to explore through literature and film the ways that ordinary people have reacted to developments in science and technology, and their fears as well as hopes for the future. This course takes a selection of classic texts and films from the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries to see what continuities and differences there have been in the public imagination of science and technology over this period.