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Science Fiction in the Cold War Era

Class at Faculty of Arts |

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This course looks at the Cold War era through the lens of selected American science fiction. It provides both an exploration of the general cultural background as well as an introduction to major science fiction works from this period (by Judith Merril, Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, Ursula K. Le Guin and Samuel R. Delany, among others). Fiction is supplemented with critical studies and (extracts from) such classic movies as Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb and Blade Runner.


Bould, Mark and Sherryl Vint, eds. The Routledge Concise History of Science Fiction. London and New York: Routledge, 2011. (selected chapters)

Bradbury, Ray. “There Will Come Soft Rains.” The Martian Chronicles. New York: HarperCollins, 2011.

Canavan, Gerry and Kim Stanley Robinson. Green Planets: Ecology and Science Fiction. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 2014. (selected chapters)

Delany, Samuel R. Triton. Radical Utopias. New York: Quality Paperback Book Club, 1990.

Dick, Philip K. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? New York: Ballantine Books, 1968.

Gibson, William. “Burning Chrome” and “Johnny Mnemonic.” Burning Chrome. New York: Arbor House, 1986.

Jameson, Fredric. Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions. London: Verso, 2005. (selected chapters)

Le Guin, Ursula K. The Left Hand of Darkness. New York: Ace Books, 1969.

Merril, Judith. “That Only a Mother.” Women of Wonder, ed. Pamela Sargent. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1978.

Moylan, Tom. Scraps of the Untainted Sky: Science Fiction, Utopia, Dystopia. Boulder: Westview, 2000. (extracts)

Parrinder, Patrick, ed. Learning from Other Worlds: Estrangement, Cognition, and the Politics of Science Fiction and Utopia. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2000. (selected chapters)

Pohl, Frederik and Cyril Kornbluth. The Space Merchants. London: Orion, 2003.

Roberts, Adam. The History of Science Fiction. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. (selected chapters)

Robinson, Kim Stanley. Pacific Edge. New York: Tom Doherty Associates, 1988.

Seed, David. American Science Fiction and the Cold War: Literature and Film. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1999. (selected chapters)

Suvin, Darko. Metamorphoses of Science Fiction: On the Poetics and History of a Literary Genre. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1979. (selected chapters)


To receive their credits, students must attend at least 70% of seminars, deliver an oral presentation and submit an essay of 2000-3000 words. Please consult “Essay Guidelines” at for general writing guidelines and submit an approximately 100-word proposal in advance (a preliminary bibliography should be included as well). Essays should be submitted by February 16, 2024.