Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Readings for Day One

Dear Topians--
Here are the five assigned readings for the first day of class. The James and Moylan are in the Theory/Utopia folder on BB. The Fitting essay is in the Theory/Jameson folder, where I have put a number of other reviews of Jameson's book that might be helpful in figuring out his general plan. Of all these reviews, only the Fitting is required.
See you next week!!
EK Sparks
PS-- Only 4 of you have sent blog addresses so far...

Intro to Utopias:

  • Edward James, “Utopias and Anti-Utopias” in Cambridge Companion to SF (BB)
  • Tom Moylan, Preface (i & ii) and Chap 2 “Absent Paradigms” Scraps of the Untainted Sky (BB)
  • Fredric Jameson: Archaeologies of the Future, Intro and Chaps 1 &2
  • Fitting, Peter. “ The Concept of Utopia in the Work of Fredric Jameson.” Utopian Studies, 1998 (BB)
  • EKS--Utopian/Dystopian Characteristics

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Assignments before Class

Dear Seminarians—
I am planning and laying out more of our up-coming course. In addition to the web site which I continue to develop <>, I have begun to post readings in Blackboard and have made a blog <>
In preparation for our first meeting (on Tuesday evening, Jan 13) I would like for each of you to set up a blog for the class and send me the address so I can post them all and we can cross-reference each other. Please do an initial blog entry about your hopes and expectations for the class, especially how you think it might relate to your areas of particular interest.

I am going to ask you to do a little reading for the first class (nothing like 17 books—just a few chapters/ essays). I haven’t quite decided on all of the selections yet. I am reading through the first half of Jameson’s book, and know I will want you to read a few chapters of that. I’ve posted some things in the Utopia Folder, in the Theory section of Course Documents on Blackboard, and think I will want you to read the chapter on the history of utopias in The Cambridge Companion to SF. However, I am presently still in Seattle, so I can only post copies of things that I can find and save on my hard drive or have already on the web. I won’t be back until after New Year’s, when I will PDF some chapters of books that aren’t in the library yet. So expect another e-mail from me around Tuesday, Jan 6 that will lay out more specifically what you need to have read. I will hand out a more finalized syllabus and policy statement outlining assignments and grade weights in class.


  • Introduce participants, course objectives, and activities
  • Review a basic history of utopian/dystopian texts and critical theories/ists
  • Establish an initial vocabulary of terms for defining and discussing varieties of utopias and aspects of utopian theory (utopia, dystopia, heterotopia, critical utopia, anti-utopia, dialogic utopia, utopian program vs. utopian impulse etc. )
  • Begin creating a list of themes and concerns to follow throughout the course (adumbrating my list of characteristics posted on the web)

    Looking forward to getting to know you all in the new year!
EK Sparks

Sunday, December 28, 2008


This is a blog for RCID 813-- Topias:Science Fiction and the Spatial Politics of the Future -- a graduate seminar offered at Clemson University, spring semester 2009. The course reads a succession of classic 20th century utopias and dystopias from various perspectives on utopian thought ranging from cultural studiesand space/place theory to ecocritical and feminist approaches.