Courses / Undergraduate

Spring 2024

  • Special Topics in Film Genre – Our Others, Our Selves: Race, Gender, and Technologies of the Body in Contemporary Science Fiction Cinema

    171 002 | CCN: 31239

    Emily West

    Location: Dwinelle 188

    Date and Time: TU, TH 11:00am - 12:29pm

    4 Units

    Science fiction is a highly political genre, historically rooted in Western colonial expansion and directly expressive of imperialist desire and anxiety. This course aims to illuminate the ways in which science fiction film constructs its Others through scenes of encounter that mobilize ideologies of race, class, and gender in complex and contradictory ways. Beginning with the Alien franchise in the late 1970s, we will chart a course through the recent history of American and international science fiction that examines narratives of otherness in settings that are both fantastic and everyday. Encounters with literally or symbolically racialized aliens dominate the films of the first unit. From here, we move through a series of dystopian and utopian presents and futures, interrogating how contemporary science fiction dramatizes the precarity of racialized neoliberal laborers, the racial and gender identities of artificial intelligences, and the racial politics of both surveillance and reproductive futurism. Throughout, students will examine how film texts engage in ongoing cultural conversations about the formulation and reformulation of identity, often by exploring the flexible, contested boundaries between human and nonhuman, self and other, organism and machine, past and future. Course texts come from film studies as well as psychoanalysis, queer theory, science and technology studies, political theory and anthropology; they model intersectional understandings of the constitution of body and identity as site of both oppression and resistance.