I just finished grading my students’ final paper projects. Their task was to use several definitions of SF from a list that I had prepared for them (or others that they found on their own and properly cited) to evaluate whether a work that we had not discussed in class was SF or not. Through this analysis, they would come up with their own definition/litmus test for SF.
I was very happy to read papers on a variety of SFnal works, including:
- Joseph Kosinski’s film, TRON: Legacy (which I had reviewed for the SFRA Review before)
- AMC’s production of The Walking Dead
- H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness
- Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game
- Tommaso Landolfi’s Cancerqueen (Cancroregina)
- Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower
- Halo: Combat Evolved (and its supplementary material in print)
- David Brin’s Startide Rising
- Marc Forster’s film, World War Z
- Ridley Scott’s film, Blade Runner
- Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World
- Richard Schenkman’s film, The Man from Earth
- X-COM: UFO Defense
This list reveals that my students were interested in SF across a spectrum of media. There were papers on six literary works, four films, one television series, and two video games (this is further blurred by the video game/print crossover material).
For those students who talked with me about their papers, I am particularly happy with the way their papers turned out. Having had those conversations, I can see a snapshot along their paper’s developmental process, which gives me better insight into the work that they likely did to push their arguments further than what we had discussed in class. Reflecting on this, I will add conference time to my future SF classes that meet over a full semester, but I will do more to have these smaller conversations with students–perhaps before class or during our daily break time–to get a better sense of their research and developing argument.