Shakespeare as Sci-Fic: New Honors Course on Proto-Science Fiction
Faith Diaz Contributing Writer
Professor of English Misty Krueger will be offering a new English Honors course, HON 377: Proto-Science Fiction, this upcoming Spring 2020 semester. The course is an examination of British and American literary texts prior to the 20th-century and more importantly, before the label of science fiction was placed on these texts.
Students may be attracted to this course because, “you get to do things you wouldn’t do in another class, that’s one thing. Texts come together that don’t normally come together,” Krueger said. “Like you don’t normally read Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”, alongside Margaret Cavendish’s “Blazing World” or Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travel”s or “The Strange Adventures of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”. . .that’s interesting because they are across centuries.”
Krueger continued, “The other thing is that you get to read something that maybe you actually have read but from a new point of view or a new genre to you. So there will be students that have said, ‘Yeah, I’ve read Shakespeare.’ And I ask, ‘Well, have you read Shakespeare as sci-fi?’”
Krueger describes the way we differentiate each piece of literature into categories and how those categories are not as set as scholars thought. “If we take canonical text that we say is highbrow ‘literature’ and we put the lenses of scifi to it, then I think sci-fi is also raised up. . . because of the way we are thinking about the class,” she said. “So it raises that stuff up but it also brings the high stuff, like Shakespeare, down. Because it’s like Shakespeare, he’s not up there anymore, he’s just down here with everyone else.”
Kruegers’ aim is to teach students how these genres that we thought were so distinctly different, as scholars, actually have an immense overlap. Having taught this course once before, in the Spring of 2017, as a request to bring in a new Honors course and after approval by the Honors Director, then Eric Brown, Krueger is excited and prepared.
The emphasis on the blending of genres is carried out throughout the course to what will be, the students final project. “The final examine is not a paper, it’s not a project, it’s a game. So that’s what we did. So we spent a month creating a game and everyone in the class worked on it. Its an entire class project,” said Krueger.
Each piece of the project was individually created and produced by a student, each working on a separate entity of the game to bring it all together in a playable fashion. “Some people wrote the narrative, some people designed the pieces we played with, some people did the art for the project, some people created the booklet that would come in the game,” said Krueger, “It was like a D&D game.”
With this game as a final project, “The most important part is that we get to create our own world, with the game, and each of these texts are creating their own worlds, which is a basic tenant of sci-fi,” said Krueger. This project allows for students to replicate the creative mental process that is happening on paper into a tangible and playable object.
“What’s important is that they learn how to work together, students, in that they can create a game out of our course materials and they have fun. We will play the game and announce the dates and times to the university,” Krueger said.
This course is now available in time for pre-registration on My Campus.