Aims and Objectives

The purpose of the course is to explore the influence of classical literature upon science fiction, and also to study the beginnings of science fiction in Greek and Roman literature and mythology. We will concentrate on certain aspects of science fiction which are particularly relevant in the context of modern political and social issues, and intend for this course to be an opportunity for constructive learning and  an enjoyable experience.

Students will be expected to participate in this collaboration, by taking an active interest in the course materials, and through regular attendance, preparation which involves readings ahead of the class, and attendance of the viewings of audiovisual materials. We will read some exciting books, watch some interesting films and videos, and discuss these materials in class.


Unit One: Paradigms of the Western Tradition

Week #1 (August 29): Introduction and Theoretical Background

Lecture: What is Science? What is Fiction? (J. Rea)

Readings: Click here for the Reading Guide and here for the powerpoint for your assignment for this week, A Canticle for Leibowitz 

Viewings: Star Trek "Bread and Circuses"


Week#2 (September 5th): Science Fiction and the Classics

Lecture:  A Canticle for Leibowitz (J. Rea) Click here for the powerpoint guide to the lecture

<>Readings: Selections from Hesiod (WD 109- 200) and Vergil (Eclogue 4) Click here for the reading guide for Hesiod and Vergil



Week #3 (September 12): The Progress of Civilizations

Lecture:  The Golden Age in Ancient Society

(J. Rea)

Viewings: Serenity. Click here for the viewing guide to Serenity


Readings: A selection from the Odyssey (Book 9)

Click here for the reading guide for the Odyssey

Week #4 (September 19): Greek Mythology, Monsters and Exotic Worlds, Part I

Lecture:  Homer's Odyssey Gods and Monsters in the Odyssey. (J. Rea).

In-class writing assignment #1

Viewing: Stanley Kubrick's 2001: Space Odyssey. Click here for the viewing guide and here for another view on 2001: A Space Odyssey

 Week # 5 (September 26): Exam I. Click here for the review questions.


<>Readings: Herodotus Book I and Books I and IX of Ludvig Holberg

<><Click here for the reading guide to Ludvig Holberg’s Niels Klim’s Journey to the Underground World and Herodotus.

Unit Two: Science Fiction, Satire and Utopia

Week #6 (October 3): Greek Mythology, Monsters and Exotic Worlds, Part II

Lecture: Holberg, Herodotus and the Creation of Modern Science Fiction (Guest Lecturer: Avery Cahill) Click here for the powerpoint that goes with the lecture

Viewing: The adventures of Baron Munchausen


<>Readings: P.K. Dick Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Click here for the reading guide


Week #7 (October10): Soul and Identity, Part I

Discussion: Personal Identity and the Soul (J. Rea) Soul and Identity Challenge

Readings: Click here for the study guide for Plato's dialogue Phaedrus

Week #8 (October 17): Soul and Identity, Part II

Lecture: What is Personal Identity? (J. Rea)

Viewings: Bladerunner

Readings: Aristophanes Ecclesiazousai


Week #9 (October 24): Comedy and Science Fiction, Part I

Lecture:  The Origins of Comedy in Science Fiction (Guest Lecturer: K. Kapparis)

Review sheet for exam.

Viewings: Star Trek Next Generation,  “Angel One”


Week 10 (October 31): Comedy and Science Fiction, Part II

Exam II

Petronius’ Saytricon (Selections)

Readings: Gerd Brantenburg’s Egalia’s Daughters

Week #11 (November 7): Comedy and Science Fiction, Part III

Lecture: Why we Laugh: Comic Uses of Status, Gender and Appearance (J. Rea) Click here for the reading guide for the Satyricon and Egalia's Daughters

In class writing assignment #2

Readings: Click here for the powerpoint reading guide for James Alan Gardiner’s Hunted and Thucydides The Melian Dialogue

Unit Three: The Concept of Society in Science Fiction

Week #12 (November 14): Individualism vs. Authoritarianism, Part I

Discussion: (J. Rea)

Week #13 (November 21) No class (Thanksgiving Break)

Reading: Lucian's A True History (Selection) As you read this brief excerpt from Lucian, consider why many consider this work to be the forerunner of modern fantasy and science fiction.

Week #14 (November 28)Individualism vs. Authoritarianism, Part II

Lecture/Discussion: An Ambivalent Society  (J. Rea)

Viewings: Star Trek, Enterprise, Carbon Creek Click here for the review sheet for the exam.

Week #15 (December 5) Final Exam (Due to the fact that the last day of class falls on the first day of Hanukkah, a make-up exam will also be given)

Grading: The course will have three non-cumulative exams (3 exams at 30%) and two in-class writing assignments (2 essays at 5% each). The exams will consist of both short answer questions and longer, comprehensive essays that are meant to test your knowledge of the key themes and issues that we will be discussing over the course of the semester. The content of the tests will be based on the assigned readings, viewings, and course discussions.   

Grading Scale: A= 100-90; B+ = 89; B= 88-80; C+ = 79; C= 78-70; D+ = 69; D = 68-60; E= below 60

ADA Requirements:
If you need specific classroom accomodations, it is your responsibility to notify me at the start of the semester so that your needs may be met.  You will also need to give me a letter from the Disability Resource Center (202 Peabody Hall) indicating that you need academic accommodations.

Exam, Assignment, and Class Expectations:
 It is extremely difficult to be involved in the learning process unless you participate fully in class discussions.  Thus, your participation in class discussion and willingness to translate in class are especially critical.  It should be obvious that you cannot make an effective contribution to the class if you come to class unprepared, are chronically late, or fail to attend class.  Make-up examinations are rarely given and only for extraordinary circumstances beyond your control, such as a grave illness or family emergency. Grading will be traditional, i.e., only outstanding work will receive an A, good work will receive a  B, average work a C, etc. You can expect your final grade to be lowered by one-half grade for each missed class.  In addition, habitually arriving late or leaving class early will cause your final grade to be lowered as well.  If you are experiencing difficulties with the class, do not suffer in silence! Please feel free to stop by my office or talk to me before or after class about the course or the course content. 
Honor Code (Source: web site: Code):
The following pledge is either required or implied on all work submitted for credit by University of Florida students: "On my honor, I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid in doing this assignment." For a full statement of UF's Academic Honor Code see either the Undergraduate Catalog or the web site.