The Transcendent in Science Fiction (CUL 451)
This course is a study of the transcendent in science fiction. In ten weeks we read five books and watch eight films – two of which are documentaries. We watch many short pieces on YouTube. We also listen to music.
The course is a study of the function and value of science fiction in the human realm as a potential carrier of The Transcendent. The first two sessions are a glance at the history of this ever-expanding genre. Then we look at the human realm as a whole from a very broad perspective. We peer back at prehistory then at the beginning of history and try to understand the shift that occurred in the human realm when the written word arrived. We try to understand the factors that were active in prehistory and the very different factors that entered the human realm with history – profoundly affecting the way we now live. We try to understand how the recent arrival of science fiction affects and reflects our human story.
This course also looks at the transformation our civilization is now undergoing because of massive and previously unimaginable changes in science and technology. We examine how these changes are being interpreted by science fiction and how they may or may not reflect The Transcendent.
Course Sessions and Topics
This course is divided into ten, one-hour lectures.
Week 1 | What is Science Fiction?
Week 2 | What is Science Fiction, Continued – From 1980 to the Present
Week 3 | Story
Week 4 | Elements of Story
Week 5 | Qualities of Story
Week 6 | The Word
Week 7 | The Transcendent
Week 8 | Image
Week 9 | The Highest Value
Week 10 | Balance
Learning Outcomes for this Course
Outcome 1:Students will have an understanding of the history of science fiction.
Outcome 2: Students will have an understanding of the function and value of science fiction in our contemporary human realm.
Outcome 3: Students will have a basic understanding of how science fiction serves as our mirror and what it shows us about ourselves.
Outcome 4:Students will have a basic understanding of four terms: imaginary, fantasy, imagination, and imaginal. They will also have an understanding of the place and nature of the transcendent in the human realm as reflected in science fiction.
Outcome 5: Students will understand the impact of the written word, monotheism, and codified law on the human realm. They will also have an understanding of the profound changes the human realm is going through at this time because of developments in science and technology.
Outcome 6: Students will understand what neologisms are and how (especially for the last 50 years or so) science and technology are transforming the English language worldwide in an instant every instant.
Outcome 7:Students will have an understanding of the different functions of the right hemisphere of the brain and the left hemisphere of the brain and how this matters to science fiction.
Outcome 8: Students will have a basic understanding of the place of story in the human realm. They will also understand the elements with which a story is composed and the qualities of story with which a story makes meaning.
Mary-John Hart, Ph.D.| Mary-John Hart has her Ph.D. in Depth Psychology on the role of the image. She also has graduate work and teaching and administration experience in drama, and is an award winning science fiction writer, famous in her pesudonym Mary Staton for her book The Legend of Biel. In this course, she shares her depth psychological understanding of the structures of science fiction through the use of her own novel as an illustration.