This course takes its title, “Visionary Fiction,” from the term coined by adrienne maree brown and Walidah Imarisha to “distinguish science fiction that has relevance toward building new, freer worlds from the mainstream strain of science fiction, which most often reinforces dominant narratives of power.” Through an exploration of a variety of science fiction (sf) invested in decolonization, liberation, nonlinear time, and critiques of dominant narratives of power, students will encounter sf short stories, novels, literary theory, personal essays, comics, songs, films, and poetry. This course, in its commitments to “visionary fictions,” centers Afrofuturist cultural production, works of Indigenous Futurisms, and works committed to Multispecies Futures, Feminist Futures, and Queer Futurity. As a creative extension of their reading in this course, students will generate their own visionary work of sf.
A few of the course’s framing questions include:
- How do our chosen texts employ and subvert science fiction genre conventions in order to make meaning?
- How does encountering science fiction through the lens of visionary fiction change, complicate, and expand genre expectations and stereotypes?
- Why and how does science fiction lend itself, as a genre, to a critique of the present?
- What is the relationship between fiction and reality? Is there a point where science fiction imaginaries are no longer fictional?
- What is the relationship between the past, present, and future (hint: many of the texts we’ll encounter show us that time is not linear)?
- What are the political stakes of imagining the future, and for whom?
- As readers, what are the implications and embodied experiences of imagining different futures in our current global moment of pandemic, revolution, continued colonization, extinction, and climatic change?
Authors and artists include, but are not limited to: John Akomfrah, Darcie Little Badger, Lauren Beukes, Octavia E. Butler, Kelly Sue Deconnick, Samuel Delaney, Cherie Dimaline, Donna Haraway, N.K. Jemisin, Ursula K. Le Guin, Carmen Maria Machado, Janelle Monae, Parliament, Sun Ra, Rebecca Roanhorse, and Joanna Russ.