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First Paper Topics

(for 5-7 pp. paper, due on February 24)


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:

1. Tsiolkovskii’s “On the Moon”

2. Bogdanov’s Red Star

3. Briusov’s “Republic of the Southern Cross”

4. Kuprin’s “Liquid Sunshine”

5. Capek’s R.U.R.

6. Zamiatin’s We

7. Nabokov's Invitation to a Beheading

8. Chernyshevsky, “Vera Pavlovna’s Dream”

9. Dostoevsky’s “Dream of a Ridiculous Man”

10. the excerpt we read from A. N. Tolstoy’s Aèlita, Queen of Mars

11. Bulgakov’s “Fatal Eggs”


Other possibilities:

1. Compare different depictions of space voyages: which are most scientifically plausible, and why?

2. How is freedom related to happiness in Red Star and We?

3. How do two or three of these texts present the power conveyed by scientific knowledge?

4. How do stories of distant futures differ from SF set in the present or the very near future?

5. How does the depiction of a socialist society change when the author is actually living in one?

6. Discuss the connections of work and morality in two or three texts.

7. How do two or more of these texts describe sex and sexual relationships, and how does that contribute to defamiliarization or cognitive estrangement for the reader?

8. What failings tend to crop up when an intended utopia goes wrong?

9. How does R.U.R. rewrite the Frankenstein plot?

10. What critiques of Marx’s view of historical evolution does We suggest?

If you want to write on a completely different topic, let's talk about it briefly or bat a few e-mails back and forth.


Sibelan Forrester

Office: Kohlberg 340
Phone: 610.328.8162

Office Hours:

Monday: 11:00-12:00
Tuesday: 10:00-11:00
Thursday: 1:30-2:30
...or by appointment