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WHAT WORLDS MAY COME: STUDIES FOR THE FUTURE

Leslie Donovan, ldonovan@unm.edu

COURSE DESCRIPTION
French writer and aviator, Antoine de Saint-Exupery once wrote that “When it comes to the future, our task is not to foresee it, but rather to enable it to happen.” In this course, we will what kinds of new worlds we would hope to live in someday. To accomplish this, we will study present-day visions of both near and far futures primarily in literature and popular culture, but also in other fields such as popular social and natural science, sociology, and modern technology, among other fields. Our discussions will include works such as: John Lennon’s song “Imagine”; current environmental concerns, Star Trek and The Jetsons television shows; the possible colonization of Mars; concepts from the interdisciplinary field of Future Studies; classic as well as contemporary and feminist science fiction literature; social cartoons of imaginary inventions; robotics, and architecture of sustainable cities and buildings. However, while many contemporary perspectives on the future are bleak or apocalyptic, our class will focus its investigations on texts and materials that generally feature decidedly optimistic views. In our efforts to envision real possibilities for our own tomorrows, we will work with two primary modes of examination: 1) Research, using traditional academic methods and source materials to develop papers and presentations; and 2) Imagination, in which you will be encouraged to construct the future creatively through short exercises in writing and art.

 

READINGS AND TEXTS
Isaac Asimov, Robot Visions

Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed

John Barnes, Bruce Sterling, et al, Meeting Infinity

 

FILMS AND OTHER COURSE MATERIALS
We will also view specific episodes from TV series such as Eureka, Star Trek. The Jetsons, and others as well as perhaps 1-2 full-length films to be announced.

 

STUDENT REQUIREMENTS
1 multimedia research project, weekly blog discussion (2 postings each week); 4 worksheet assignments (4-6 pages) chosen from scifi novels/films/television shows, nonfiction books/articles, fine art/music websites; 1 final portfolio (10-15 new pages); attendance and active class participation.

 

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR
Leslie Donovan earned her B.A. and M.A. in English from UNM and her Ph.D. in Medieval Literature from the University of Washington. Her publications include studies of J. R. R. Tolkien, Beowulf, Anglo-Saxon women saints, and Honors teaching. She is also an alumnus of UNM’s Honors College.