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Mythological Themes in Science Fiction

This course was designed to run over eight weeks. Each week's reading explores a mythological theme as it is presented in science-fiction literature.

Introductory reading:
The Hero with a Thousand Faces and The Inner Reaches of Outer Space by Joseph Campbell
The History of Science Fiction by Adam Roberts
Holy Superheroes! by Greg Garrett Flying Saucers by Carl Jung

Week 1: The End of the World

Nightfall by Isaac Asimov (the short story, not the full-length novel), Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O'Brien
Topics for further research: Ragnarok; the Biblical Book of Revelation.

Week 2: The Hero

It's Superman by Tom de Haven, Watchmen by Alan Moore
Topics for further research: Moses; Hercules.

Week 3: The Monster

I am Legend by Richard Matheson, The Legacy of Heorot by Steven Barnes et al.
Topics for further research: Lamia; Vampires; Beowulf and Grendel.

Week 4: The Mother

Children of Men by P. D. James, The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Topics for further research: Gaia; The Virgin Mary; Jocasta.

Week 5: The Messiah

Dune by Frank Herbert, Behold the Man by Michael Moorcock
Topics for further research: the figure of the Messiah in the Abrahamic faiths.

Week 6: The Sage

A Canticle for Liebowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr., Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Topics for further research: Merlin; Mimir; Tiresias.

Week 7: The Creature

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, He She and It by Marge Piercy
Topics for further research: Prometheus; Pygmalion; the Golem.

Week 8: The Gods

Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny, Ilium by Dan Simmons

Further Reading

Bartter, M. A. "Nuclear Holocaust as Urban Renewal." Science-fiction studies 13 (1986): 148-58.

Berger, A. I. "The Triumph of Prophecy: Science Fiction and Nuclear Power in the Post-Hiroshima Period." Science Fiction Studies 3 (1976): 143-50.

Chernyshova, T. "Science Fiction and Myth Creation in Our Age." Science Fiction Studies 31, no. 3 (2004): 345-57.

DeLashmutt, M. "A Better Life Through Information Technology? The posthuman person in contemporary speculative science." Zygon, 41, 2, 2006, pp. 267-288.

Dimeo, S. "Man and Apollo: A Look at Religion in the Science Fantasies of Ray Bradbury." Journal of Popular Culture, no. 4 (1972): 970-78.

DiTommaso, L. "History and Historical Effect in Frank Herbert's Dune." Science Fiction Studies 19 (1992): 311-11.

DiTommaso, L. "The Articulation of Imperial Decadence and Decline in Epic Science Fiction." Extrapolation 48 (2007).

Emad, M. C. "Reading Wonder Woman's Body: Mythologies of Gender and Nation." The Journal of Popular Culture 39, no. 6 (2006): 954-84.

Goddu, T. A. "Vampire Gothic." American Literary History 11, no. 1 (1999): 125-41.

Halberstam, J. "Technologies of Monstrosity: Bram Stoker's" Dracula"." Victorian Studies (1993): 333-52.

Herbert, C. "Vampire Religion." Representations 79, no. 1 (2002): 100-21.

Honeyman, S. "Mutiny by Mutation: Uses of Neoteny in Science Fiction." Children's Literature in Education 35, no. 4 (2004): 347-66.

Hillier, R. "Sf Intertextuality: Hebrew Runes among the Ruins in Miller's a Canticle for Leibowitz." Science Fiction Studies 31, no. 1 (2004): 169-72.

Hilton, L. "Partners in Wonder: Women and the Birth of Science Fiction 1926-1965." The Journal of Popular Culture 41, no. 1 (2008): 170-71.

Huet, M. H. "Living Images: Monstrosity and Representation." Representations (1983): 73-87.

Koven, M. J. "" Have I Got a Monster for You!": Some Thoughts on the Golem," The X-Files" And the Jewish Horror Movie." Folklore (2000): 217-30.

Palumbo, D. "The Monomyth as Fractal Pattern in Frank Herbert's Dune Novels." Science Fiction Studies (1998): 433-58.

Sutton, T. C., and M. Sutton. "Science Fiction as Mythology." Western Folklore (1969): 230-37.

Taylor, A. M. "Science Fiction: The Evolutionary Context." Journal of Popular Culture, no. 4 (1972): 858-66.