Possible topics for first paper
5-7 pages (double-spaced)
Due February 22
Basic topic suggested: discuss how one work we’ve read functions as science fiction; how does it differ from Western
standards OR other work(s) we’ve read that you consider more “typical;” how much is the story teaching, versus
entertaining the reader; how smoothly does the educative function with the intriguing or the pleasurable. Apply
questions to any of these:
- Tsiolkovskii’s “On the Moon”
- Bogdanov’s Red Star
- Briusov’s “Republic of the Southern Cross”
- Kuprin’s “Liquid Sunshine”
- Čapek’s R.U.R.
- Zamiatin’s We
- Chernyshevsky, “Vera Pavlovna’s Dream”
- Dostoevsky’s “Dream of a Ridiculous Man”
- the excerpt we read from A. N. Tolstoy’s Aèlita, Queen of Mars
- Bulgakov’s “The Fatal Eggs”
- Bulgakov’s Heart of a Dog
- Compare different depictions of space voyages: which are most scientifically plausible, and why?
- What is the role and function of dreams in "On the Moon," "Dream of a Ridiculous Man," and We?
- How is freedom related to happiness in Red Star and We?
- How do two or three of these texts present the power conferred by scientific knowledge?
- How do stories of distant futures differ from SF set in the present or the very near future?
- How does the depiction of a socialist society change, if at all, when the author is actually living in one?
- Discuss the connections of work and morality in two or three texts.
- How do different works expand or trouble the usual definition of what is "human"?
- How do two or more of these texts describe sex and sexual relationships, and how does that contribute to
- What failings tend to crop up when an intended utopia goes wrong?
- How do R.U.R. and Heart of a Dog rewrite the Frankenstein plot?
- How does morality function in "Republic of the Southern Cross" and R.U.R.?
- What critiques of Marx’s view of historical evolution does We suggest?
If you want to write on a different topic, please consult me before you put too much work into it. I'm happy to read
and comment on drafts I receive by Friday, February 18.
Return to syllabus for Russian and
East European Science Fiction