Faculty Voices: Science Fiction

What if we lived in a world without prisons? What if humans lost the ability to speak? What if our world mechanically folded in on itself? The Residential College core curriculum seminar Science Fiction: Literature of Change is a class about questions. These questions catch one off guard, but as students discuss them, they also start talking about how policing, voice, and social classes work in their lives right now.

One of the highlights of the semester was when I partnered with the Weatherspoon Art Museum to look at the work of Saya Woolfalk, an artist who uses science fiction to re-imagine the world. My students and I listened to her TED talk about her fantastical creations, then came to the museum to see her figurative collage, Untitled #3. It was as if her world came to life for students as they closely observed her work.

Then, working with museum staff, the students did a writing exercise that allowed them to build a narrative from Woolfalk’s creation, priming them for their final class project—writing their own science fiction short story and working as a team to create, name, and publish the stories in a class magazine. Our time spent in the Weatherspoon not only got us thinking outside of our classroom space but added depth and creativity to the student work.

Associate Faculty Chair, Grogan Residential College