if i were an english teacher

Posted: February 20, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

I spent some time today lamenting the lack of any decent SF or fantasy in high school English classes. (Of course, English teachers in general are contributing to the collapse of literacy in our society in general… just ask any student who had to write a 1500-word essay on “The Symbolism of the Color Green in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.” (Please note that my high school English teachers were, on average, pretty excellent.))

Anyway, since I was wondering about it, I decided to create an imaginary syllabus for a year-long English class that taught sf and fantasy instead of the “canons” of American literature. Because I’m using my lame blog as an output for my random bursts of Creativity™, I decided to put this up here. The first 18-week semester, I decided, would be dedicated to the teaching of sf, and the second, fantasy. I’m not that happy with it (too many dead white male authors on the list), but hey, it manages to cover most of the enduring classics of Our Beloved Genre(s).

Enjoy.

~ Ian

 

Syllabus for Mr. Johnson’s 4th-Period English Class

MR. JOHNSON KNOWS NO MERCY. MR. JOHNSON IS THE TERROR IN THE NIGHT THAT CAUSES CHILDREN TO SCREAM AND WOMEN TO LAMENT. MR. JOHNSON IS A MANY-HEADED DEMON WITH A MILLION STARING EYES. MR. JOHNSON EATS PLAGIARISTS. MR. JOHNSON IS CUNNING. MR. JOHNSON IS THE ENDLESS NIGHT THAT DEVOURS ALL HOPE.

Please turn off your cell phones in class.

Semester 1: Science Fiction

Week 1: Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (humor, satire, genre conventions)

Week 2: H.G. Wells, The Time Machine (history of science fiction, time travel, evolution, the far future)

Weeks 3-4: Isaac Asimov, The Caves of Steel (artificial intelligence, overpopulation, robotics, cross-genre connections)

Weeks 5-6: Robert Heinlein, Farmer in the Sky (space colonization, America in the future, Golden Age SF)

Weeks 7-9: Frank Herbert, Dune (ecological SF, mysticism and religion, far-future space travel)

Weeks 10-12: Octavia Butler, Wild Seed (ethnicity and race relations in SF)

Weeks 13-15: Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game (militarism and colonialism in SF)

Weeks 16-17: Ursula LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness (gender and sexuality in SF)

Week 18: Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey (SF and film)

Semester 2: Fantasy

Weeks 1-2: Michael Swanwick, The Dragons of Babel (fantasy meeting the real world)

Week 3: Jo Walton, Among Others (magic in fantasy, secondary worlds)

Week 4: N.K. Jemisin, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (gods, religion, and the “civilized/barbarian” divide”)

Weeks 5-8: Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind (the hero’s journey)

Weeks 9-10: Terry Pratchett, Moving Pictures (humor and satire in fantasy, fantasy worlds as a reflection of reality)

Weeks 11-12: China Miéville, Perdido Street Station (fantasy and urban environments, non-human races in fantasy)

Week 13: Neil Gaiman, Coraline (horror and the uncanny)

Weeks 14-18: Stephen King, The Stand (epic narratives, good vs. evil, the symbolism of dreams, apocalyptic visions)

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Comments
  1. loppy says:

    not interesting

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