Note that the final exam will now be administered at 4:20 pm on Friday, January 10, after the showing of Okja and The Wandering Earth. Both films are on Netflix; some students may choose to watch them at home, then come to class at 4:20 pm for the exam. PowerPoints introducing those films will be e-mailed to all students in advance of the Friday class. Essays are still due (by e-mail, as Word attachments) on Saturday, January 11.
Prof. M. Keith Booker
234 Kimpel Hall, 575-7248
Office Hours: Thursdays, 4-5 pm and by appointment
On-line textbook supplied free of charge. This syllabus provides links to the relevant sections. Just click on the title of the film in the “Film viewing” section” to go to the discussion of that film. The material for the final exam will be based on those discussions and on the films themselves, as well as in-class presentations by the instructor.
The purpose of this course will be to provide a broad introduction to science fiction film, with an emphasis on American science fiction film. We will examine a number of important individual films and discuss the ways in which they relate to larger trends within science fiction film, including surveys of specific subgenres.
Essays, exams, and other major requirements:
Grading for graduate students in this course will be determined primarily on the basis of regular posts and other participation on the class Facebook page, including a detailed review of one science fiction film not on the syllabus. All graduate students will be expected to participate on the page every day of the intersession. Posts can include commentary, clips, links, and whatever multimedia materials the student finds relevant to the day’s material on the syllabus. Graduate students will also be required to view one additional film outside of class and to post an informal review of that film on the class Facebook page by end of the intersession. It is likely that students will want to make several posts relative to this project along the way. Reviews should emphasize a comparison of the film with the films on the syllabus and the concepts discussed in class. There will also be an in-class final exam for graudate students. The date and time for the final will be class time (noon) on Saturday, January 11.
Undergraduate students are invited to participate informally on the Facebook page and will be required to write an essay (approximately 4-5 typed, double-spaced pages) on one of the films on the syllabus, describing the ways in which this film illustrates some aspect (or aspects) of science fiction film. There will also be an in-class final exam for undergraduate students. The essays will be due (via e-mail as a Word attachment) by class time (noon) on Saturday, January 11, which is also the date and time of the exam.
Grades and Grading for Undergraduate Students
Critical Essay: 50%
Class Participation, including Facebook: 10%
In-class final exam: 40%
Grades and Grading for Graduate Students
Film review: 40%
Class Participation, including other Facebook posts: 40%
In-class final exam: 20%
BAD WEATHER PLANNING: Film viewings in the course will be conducted according to the following schedule. In the event of a winter weather event or other disruption that forces the cancellation of a class, the Friday, January 10, class period will be conducted on that day as a backup. It contains only films that are available on Netflix. Students should arrange to view those at home. The remainder of the schedule will be shifted forward by one class day. If we make it to January 10 with no cancellations, a decision on how to conduct the class will be made in class on January 9. If more than one class must be canceled due to weather or other unforeseen events, arrangements will be made for further home-viewing fill-ins.
Click on the title of any film to go to the required on-line reading assignment for that film.
Thursday, January 2, 2020
Introduction to the Course. Introductory Overview of Science Fiction Film.
Film viewing: The Day the Earth Stood Still (Robert Wise, 1951, 92 min)
Film viewing: District 9 (Neill Blomkamp, 2009, 112 min)
Friday, January 3
Film viewing: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Don Siegel, 1956, 80 min)
Film viewing: They Live (John Carpenter, 1988, 94 min)
Saturday, January 4
Film viewing: Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Steven Spielberg, 1977, 138 min)
Film viewing: Arrival (Denis Villeneuve, 2016, 116 min)
***Adventures in Space***
Monday, January 6
Film viewing: 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968, 149 min)
Film viewing: Serenity (Joss Whedon, 2005, 119 min)
Tuesday, January 7
Film viewing: Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979, 117 min)
Film viewing: Europa Report (2013, Sebastián Cordero, 90 min)
***Exploring the Posthuman***
Wednesday, January 8
Film viewing: Blade Runner (Original 1982 theatrical cut, Ridley Scott, 1982, 117 min)
Film viewing: Terminator (James Cameron, 1984, 107 min)
Thursday, January 9
Film viewing: Robocop (Paul Verhoeven, 1987, 102 min)
Film viewing: Ex Machina (Alex Garland, 2014, 108 min)
***Netflix bad weather backup day***
Friday, January 10
Film viewing: Okja (Bong Joon-ho, 2017, 120 min)
Film viewing: The Wandering Earth (Frant Gwo, 2019, 124 min)
In-class final exam for all students. 4:20 pm.
Saturday, January 11
Critical essays due for all students by midnight on this date. Essays should be submitted to the instructor by e-mail as a Word-compatible attachment.
Films for Graduate Student Reviews
Forbidden Planet (1956) [Miller]
Soylent Green (1973) [Bain]
12 Monkeys (1995) [Henry]
The Fifth Element (1997) [Merriwether]
The Matrix (1999)
A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2000)
Minority Report (2002)
Interstellar (2014) [LaCrue]
Sorry to Bother You (2018) [Scott]
Miscellaneous Relevant University Policies:
Disabilities: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal antidiscrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. Moreover, the University of Arkansas Academic Policy Series 1520.10 requires that students with disabilities are provided reasonable accommodations to ensure their equal access to course content. If you have a documented disability and require accommodations, please contact me privately at the beginning of the semester to make arrangements for necessary classroom adjustments. Please note, you must first verify your eligibility for these through the Center for Educational Access (contact 479–575–3104 or visit http://cea.uark.edu for more information on registration procedures).
Discrimination and Sexual Harassment: Anyone experiencing discrimination and/or sexual harassment while at the university may report it to a complaint officer appointed by the Chancellor. The complaint officer will discuss any situation or event that the complainant considers discriminatory or constitutive of sexual harassment. Reports may be made by the person experiencing the harassment or by a third party, such as a witness to the harassment or someone who is told of the harassment. For more information and to report allegations of discrimination and/or sexual harassment, contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Compliance, 346 N. West Avenue (West Avenue Annex), 479-575-4019 (voice) or 479-575-3646 (tdd).
Academic Integrity: “As a core part of its mission, the University of Arkansas provides students with the opportunity to further their educational goals through programs of study and research in an environment that promotes freedom of inquiry and academic responsibility. Accomplishing this mission is possible only when intellectual honesty and individual integrity prevail. Each University of Arkansas student is required to be familiar with, and abide by, the University’s ‘Academic Integrity Policy,’ which may be found at http://provost.uark.edu/academicintegrity/245.php
Students with questions about how these policies apply to a particular course or assignment should immediately contact their instructor.”
Attendance: “Student absences resulting from illness, family crisis, University-sponsored activities involving scholarship or leadership/participation responsibilities, jury duty or subpoena for court appearance, military duty, and religious observances are excusable according to university rules. The instructor has the right to require that the student provide appropriate documentation for any absence for which the student wishes to be excused. Moreover, during the first week of the semester, students must give to the instructor a list of the religious observances that will affect their attendance.”
Emergency Procedures – Many types of emergencies can occur on campus; instructions for specific emergencies such as severe weather, active shooter, or fire can be found at emergency.uark.edu.
Severe Weather (Tornado Warning):
Follow the directions of the instructor or emergency personnel
Seek shelter in the basement or interior room or hallway on the lowest floor, putting as many walls as possible between you and the outside
If you are in a multi-story building, and you cannot get to the lowest floor, pick a hallway in the center of the building
Stay in the center of the room, away from exterior walls, windows, and doors
Violence / Active Shooter (CADD):
- CALL- 9-1-1
- AVOID- If possible, self-evacuate to a safe area outside the building. Follow directions of police officers.
- DENY- Barricade the door with desk, chairs, bookcases or any items. Move to a place inside the room where you are not visible. Turn off the lights and remain quiet. Remain there until told by police it’s safe.
- DEFEND- Use chairs, desks, cell phones or whatever is immediately available to distract and/or defend yourself and others from attack.
The following suggested topics are intended to give undergraduate students an idea of the kinds of topics that are likely to make successful critical essays. These topics my be used directly, or they simply may be used as guidance for students who wish to develop their own topics.
- Using examples from the films we have seen in class, discuss some of the ways in which the representation of aliens in science fiction can be used to comment on real-world social and political issues.
- Using examples from the films we have seen in class, discuss the ways in which science fiction can contain energies that suggest that the world need not be the way it currently is.
- Choosing any two films on the syllabus, compare and contrast these two films in terms of a specific issue, such as treatment of race and racism, representation of women, critique of capitalism, environmentalism, etc.
- Choosing any two films on the syllabus, discuss the ways in which this film uses the mode of science fiction to achieve goals that could not have been achieved in a more realistic film.
- Using examples from the films we have seen in class, discuss the ways in which science fiction film explores the ways in which technological advances can change fundamental social ideas.