• Course Description:

    This course surveys the science fiction genre in the history of American cinema. Our focus will be on the range of ways in which science fiction has been called upon to think through questions about the changing landscapes of science and technology in both American culture and the cinema. The sci-fi genre experiences intense popularity during periods of significant techno-scientific transformation—from the electrification of the United States in the late 19th century to the computerization of life in the late 20th—which in turn fueled innovations in the science and technology of motion pictures. These exchanges between film and culture make the sci-fi film a particularly rich space for experimenting with the real and imagined impacts of cycles of innovation. Drawing on the history of science, art history, literature, and film theory, we will approach science fiction in American cinema, not simply as a future-oriented and quite fanciful genre, but as a profound and illuminating mode for teaching audiences about what the cinema is, how moving images work, and how the nature of techno-scientific innovation bears on enduring concerns about what it means to be human.