Science and Literature
What does science have to do with literature, culture, and national identity?
Surely scientists pursue material facts, literature creates fictions, and
national identity is political? This course will seek to complicate such
assumptions by studying how these and other domains interact and coevolve in
French speculative fiction, usually called science fiction.
This class provides an introduction to the richness of French science fiction.
Starting with Jules Verne, we will situate our readings firmly in broad
historical networks, trying to understand how literature has reacted to
scientific innovation and what the articulations might be between science and
the literary more generally. We will also examine sci-fi in its political
context (one novel written during Nazi-occupied France, another written in the
period of civil rights activism in America). We will learn about the kinds of
truth and fiction produced by scientific and literary discourses, and how there
might be more in common between them than we might think.