american science fiction of the 1950s & the 1960s // fall 2014

In this class we will look at the literary and cinematic texts written and produced during the 1950s and the 1960s, decades known as the “Real Golden Age of Science Fiction” that followed the first “Golden Age of Sci-Fi” of the 1930s and 1940s. We will deal with the questions: Why did science fiction become the leading genre during the 1950s? What is the connection between science fiction and social and political context of the time? What is the typology and poetics of science fiction?

For the introduction, please read David Seed’s Science Fiction: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford UP, 2011.

26.9 Introductory discussion: What is Science Fiction? When Worlds Collide (Rudolf Mate, 1951)

Topics of the 1950s SF

3.10 Group session.
– Forbidden Planet (Fred M. Wilcox, 1956);
– It Came from Outer Space (Jack Arnold, 1953);
– The Incredibly Shrinking Man (Jack Arnold, 1957);
– Them! (Gordon Douglas, 1954)

Cold War and SF

10.10 Screening: Panic in the Year Zero (Ray Milland, 1962)

17.10 Pat Frank, Alas Babylon together with Panic in the Year Zero (Ray Milland, 1962)

24.10 Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers

SF as/and Philosophy

31.10 Richard Matheson, I am Legend

7.11 Frederik Pohl and Cyril M. Kornbluth, The Space Merchants


14.11 Planet of Apes (Franklin J. Schaffner, 1968)

21.11 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)

Space operas and u /dys/ topian imagination

28.11 Frank Herbert, Dune

5.12 Ursula le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness

Psychedelic turn

12.12 Fantastic Voyage (Richard Fleischer, 1966)

19.12 Philip K. Dick, Ubik

Participants should make sure that they have access to all the primary material by the beginning of term. You can use any edition of the course’s primary sources.
All the obligatory critical texts as well as Pat Frank’s “Alas, Babylon” will be available on OLAT. Further reading can be found in the seminar's bibliography.

This post is tagged

Leave a Reply