Writers of Color in Spec Lit Assignment, Part 1

Writers of Color in Speculative Literature Class Coronavirus Assignment, part 1: Due Monday 3/30, midnight

All of us have been deeply impacted by the spread of Covid-19, often in ways we are only just beginning to see. In this class, we’ve seen how speculative literature authors have approached major societal issues through the lens of the future and the fantastic.

They’ve used cognitive estrangement as a tool to offer readers a different lens, to imagine a different way of approaching problems and seeing them anew. Perhaps even opening up possibilities for effecting change and doing things better going forward.

I’m adding an assignment to focus on Covid-19. We’ll use this piece as the basis for the next stage in our project, where we’ll connect it to the work of writers we’ve already discussed, such as Butler, Patterson, Bell, Chesnutt, Samuel Delany, Shockley, Mosley, Jeffers, Gomez, Saunders, Hopkinson, Amal El-Mohtar, and Benjamin Rosenbaum.

[Note: most of these readings were from the anthology, _Dark Matter_, highly recommended.]

For today, your task is simple:

– either for yourself, a family member, or someone who you choose to interview (friend, acquaintance, or stranger are all fine), think about how the spread of coronavirus has affected them so far — has it affected their work, their physical or mental health, their care responsibilities, their schooling, their career aspirations, their relationships, etc. and so on?

– write up a short response (choosing whatever aspects you want to focus on) and hand it in to me electronically by the end of the day on Monday; bullet points are fine, or paragraphs — it’s entirely up to you. (Alternately, you can record a brief audio or video response to send to me; if you choose that, 2-3 minutes is fine, although you’re also welcome to go longer)

– please note on the response whether it’s okay to share this publicly; this won’t affect your grade one way or another, but if it’s okay to share with others, I may end up compiling those responses and sharing on social media. Just include at the end a note: “ok to share” or “prefer not to share”. If it’s “ok to share,” note “with my name” or “anonymously”. Thanks!

It will be graded on a simple pass / no-pass basis — if you hand it in, that’s sufficient to get full credit for it.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This can be tough material. If you are finding Covid-19 writing emotionally difficult to work with, and would prefer to discuss a more distant historical event that affected you or someone you interview, that’s fine — just let me know.


Finally, I’m adding some entirely optional reading for over the break. You’ll remember that we read Rosenbaum’s _The Orange_ on the first day of class. He just published “Feature Development for Social Network,” a zombie / pandemic story for today. It is sharp and funny and quietly angry.

Read it if you like; you may want to incorporate it into your projects, especially if you’re interested in major corporation and government responses to disaster, or in how human beings respond on an individual level.

When we come back from break, I’ll open up a discussion thread so you can talk about it with each other as well. I’ll be assigning some more coronavirus-relevant material after we return.


Stay safe, stay home, be well. More soon.

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