Schedule of Readings

Note: Please print out hyperlinked readings and bring them to class. Readings marked with an asterisk (*) will be handed out in class, and made available both on BSpace and on the “Resources” page.

1. Introduction: Knowledge, the Senses, and the Work of Literature

F 8/30, Arts and Sciences
Snow, from “The Two Cultures;”* Wordsworth, from Preface to Lyrical Ballads*

M 9/2, Labor Day Holiday – no classes

W 9/4, The Creative Imagination
Locke and Berkeley on matter and idea;* Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

F 9/6, Epistemology and Speculative Fiction
Blake, Marriage of Heaven and Hell continued; Dick, “How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later”

2. Some Versions of Romantic Nature

M 9/9, Modernity and Disenchantment
Hume, “Of Miracles;” Coleridge, “Frost at Midnight;” from Biographia Literaria*

W 9/11, Murdering to Dissect
Wordsworth, from Lyrical Ballads: Preface; “Expostulation and Reply;” “The Tables Turned;” “Tintern Abbey;” from Poems in Two Volumes: “I wandered lonely as a cloud;” “My heart leaps up”

F 9/13, Unweaving the Rainbow
Keats, Lamia; Dawkins, Preface to Unweaving the Rainbow

M 9/16, Nature as Monstrosity
Keats, Lamia; Butler, The Abernethy-Lawrence Debate; Recommended: Gigante, “The Monster in the Rainbow”

W 9/18, Late Romanticism 1: Seductive Knowledge
Keats, “La Belle Dame Sans Merci;” Tiptree, “And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill’s Side”

F 9/20, Late Romanticism 2: Wonder and Awe
Emerson, from “Nature;” Whitman, “When I Heard the Learned Astronomer;” Asimov, “Nightfall;”*
Recommended: Holmes, “Herschel Among the Stars”*

M 9/23, Late Romanticism 3: Fear and Trembling
Burke and Kant on the sublime;* Lovecraft, “The Call of the Chthulu

W 9/25, Unit Roundup: Discussion of “Romantic Nature”
Latour, from We Have Never Been Modern; Wordsworth, “The world is too much with us, late and soon

3. Frankenstein in Context

F 9/27, The “Modern” Prometheus
Shelley, Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus (51-77); Kuhn, from The Structure of Scientific Revolutions*

M 9/30, Vitalism, Bioelectricity, and “Mental Chemistry”
Frankenstein Appendix B (Darwin, Davy); Selections from Galvani, Davy, Whitman (Otis 130-50); Selections from Volta, Blumenbach*
Paper 1 due

W 10/2, Sublime Nature Revisited
Frankenstein I.3-II.2 (77-120)

F 10/4, Blank Slates
Frankenstein (120-160

M 10/7, Companionable Form
Frankenstein (160-200)

W 10/9, Unit Roundup: Discussion of Fiction and its Labor
Frankenstein concluded (200-21); Appendix D: Walter Scott’s Review of Frankenstein

4. Life after Frankenstein: Sex, Species, and the Human

F 10/11, Generation and Sexual Selection
C. Darwin, Austen (Otis 306-12); E. Darwin, from The Loves of the Plants;* Tiptree, “Love Is the Plan, the Plan Is Death;”* Butler, “Bloodchild”*

M 10/14, Evolution and the Human Past
Excerpts from Lamarck, Lyell, Haeckel (240-58 and 283ff); C. Darwin, The Origin of Species (258-67); Poems; Tennyson, from In Memoriam; Kendall, Lay of the Trilobite; Hopkins, “Nature is a Heraclitean Fire” (Otis 283-305)

W 10/16, Speculative Futures
Wells, The Time Machine; Appendix A: “Zoological Retrogression;”

F 10/18, Science Fiction and Social Critique
Wells, The Time Machine; Babbage, “On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures” (Otis 109-12); Engels, from The Condition of the Working Class in England (Otis 488-92)

M 10/21, Unit Roundup: Discussion on Evolution and Narrative
Wells, The Time Machine; Appendix A: “On Extinction” (173-6); Gould, “Sociobiology: The Art of Storytelling“*

5. Life after Frankenstein 2: Computation, Robotics, and AI

W 10/23, Programming the Future
Latour on Victor Frankenstein’s “real crime” (in “It’s development, stupid! or: How to Modernize Modernization” 10-13); Asimov, Introduction to The Rest of the Robots [on Frankenstein]; Three Laws of Robotics

F 10/25, Midterm Exams Due

M 10/28, Victorian Machines
Lovelace, “Sketch of the Analytical Engine;” Boole, “An Investigation of the Laws of Thought;” Venn, “The Logic of Chance” (Otis 15ff); Samuel Butler, from Erewhon (424-8); Gibson and Sterling, from The Difference Engine*

W 10/30, Mechanical Intelligence 2
Turing, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence”* (Note: this is the original article from Mind, which can be accessed on campus or via the Berkeley proxy server. If that doesn’t work, the article can easily be found via any search engine.)

F 11/1, AI and the Human Future
Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (first third)

M 11/4, Do Androids Dream? (second third)

W 11/6, Do Androids Dream? (concluded)

F 11/8, Consciousness, Probability, Simulation

For today, your assignment is to 1) familiarize yourself with two philosophical arguments, which we’ll work through in class, and 2) think about why we might want to discuss them in relation to Turing and P.K. Dick. The two arguments are Kurzweil’s “Law of Accelerating Returns” and Bostrom’s “Simulation Argument.” Use whatever means necessary, including the links below:

Kurzweil, “The Law of Accelerating Returns;” Bostrom, from “Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?” (especially introduction and conclusion); related materials here; you may find this interview with Bostrom helpful.) And thanks to writinginmy for giving us a head start with this post, “The Technological Singularity.”

M 11/11, Veteran’s Day Holiday – no classes

W 11/13, Simulation and the Romantic Inheritance
Gibson, Neuromancer (first half)

F 11/15, Neuromancer(second half)

M 11/18, Neuromancer discussion session

W 11/20, Unit Roundup: Discussion of the Human and “Posthuman”
Haraway, “A Cyborg Manifesto
Paper 2 due

Conclusion: The Two Cultures Revisited

F 11/22, ‘The Human’ and the Humanities: Tyndall, Huxley and Arnold (Otis 3ff); Snow, “The Two Cultures”

M 11/25, Divided Faculties
Sokal, “A Physicist Experiments with Cultural Studies;” Gross and Leavitt, from The Higher Superstition (in-class handout)

W 11/27, Critical Facts
Latour, from “Why Has Critique Run Out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern”*

F 11/29, Thanksgiving Holiday – no classes

M 12/2, Review session and discussion of final papers

W 12/4, Student-Selected Concluding Unit
Blade Runner 1

F 12/6, Student-Selected Concluding Unit
Blade Runner 2 (and final thoughts)

12/9-12/13, Reading Week – no classes

W 12/18, Scheduled Final Exam Date (note: in place of a final exam, paper rewrites will be due by 11:59 pm tonight)

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