E 324 • Language and Communication in Science Fiction
Will not count toward a major in English.
1:00 PM-2:00 PM
Restricted to non-English majors.
Will Not Count Toward a Major in English.
In science fiction, language, which is both biological and social, may be described theoretically. Its relation to intelligence in humans is a matter open to debate and, of course, in confronting alien intelligences all bets may be off. Language (or, more broadly, communication) is a central part of the plots of some science fiction work, yet it has also been something in the background, taken for granted just like the fictional "transluminescence drive".
In this course we will look at how language plays a role in four science fiction novels and in several shorter selections. We will examine how language may used to recover lost worlds, at how language (or communication) is used to establish contact with alien intelligences, and at how language may be used to create worlds. In addition to the works of fiction we will read, we will use some video material, and we will read short essays written for non-linguists about the linguistic theory relevant to the fiction we are discussing. You don't need a background in either linguistics or science fiction to enjoy this course; all you need is the willingness "to boldly (sic!) go where you haven't been before."
1. Two short (3-5-page) papers with required drafts that comment upon language in a particular work. (25% each)
2. A longer (5-9-page) paper with required draft and required conference to be scheduled while the paper is in draft. This can either be a science fiction story of your own in which language plays a central role or it can be a critique of how language is treated in a work we haven't read in class. (45%)
3. Class participation (5%)
(This list is tentative and depends upon availability)
Walter W, Miller, Jr. A Canticle for Leibowitz
Ursala K. Le Guin, The Telling
Suzette Haden Elgin, Native Tongue
Selected short stories (to be determined)