I’m starting to finalize…

I'm starting to finalize my syllabus for my minority authors in spec fic class; going to keep some notes here. The difficulty, as always, is deciding what should stay, and what to leave out. I picked up half a dozen Delany novels from the library yesterday -- which one should I have them read? Keeping in mind that the longer and more obscure a text is, the more likely that some of the students won't make it through (Dhalgren is just out, I'm afraid), and that the more actual books I put in the course, ditto. It's tempting to say, 16-week course, have them read sixteen substantial books, but that's a recipe for frustration and failure, even in a 400-level class like this one.

So it'll be mostly short stories, and the books chosen will need to be carefully collected. And the books need to be in print. Thoughts / suggestions as I work on this are welcome. I'm going to keep editing this entry for a day or two, at least. Here's the master list of texts I'm drawing from, collected last spring.

Tentative syllabus for The Invisible Made Visible: Writers and Worlds of Color in Speculative Fiction

Confirmed titles:

  • Cosmos Latinos
  • Dark Matter
  • something by Butler
  • Samuel Delany, Aye, and Gomorrah: and Other Stories; Babel-17 / Empire Star
  • Hiromi Goto, Half-World
  • Nalo Hopkinson, Midnight Robber
Possibles (more to be added):

  • Juan Jose Arreola, "Baby H.P.," 1952 (Cosmos Latinos)
  • Tobias Buckell, Crystal Rain?
  • Octavia Butler, Bloodchild or Dawn?
  • more Delany, if there's room: Stars in my Pocket Like Grains of Sand or Nova or Tales of Neveryon (start there, or with one of other books in the series?)
  • N.K. Jemisin, One Hundred Thousand Kingdoms?
  • Nnedi Okorafor, Who Fears Death?
  • Miguel de Unamuno, "Mechanopolis," (1913) (in public domain / Cosmos Latinos)
And of course there's always the questions of whether I present what I consider an author's best work, or the work that ties most strongly to themes of race / ethnicity, or to other themes that show up frequently in these texts?

Some thematic framings (more to come):

  • Utopias
  • Our Frightening Future (robots/mechanics/technology; nuclear holocaust)
  • The Power of the State (authoritarian regimes; revolution; corporations as government)
  • The Alien / Other
  • The Uses of Language
  • Feminism
  • Sexualities
  • Religion / Spirituality
to be continued...

7 thoughts on “I’m starting to finalize…”

  1. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Oh, I haven’t looked Nnedi’s stuff yet. There’s a lot more to add to the list, if that wasn’t clear. And I think probably it’ll end up being a story of Toby’s, rather than that novel, but we’ll see.

  2. How many books do you expect students to read in a course like this? Or better, how many words/pages? I would think maybe 1500 pages to be reasonable, but I am not a fast reader, so maybe my sights are set too low. I took several literature courses as an undergrad, but I cannot remember how much reading we had assigned.

  3. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    It depends a lot on the complexity of the text, rather than the number of pages. But roughly, 4-6 books, and 40 or so short stories.

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