LOC 2047 – CRN 16142
Black to the Future(s): Race in Science/Speculative Fictions
EUGENE LANG COLLEGE
The New School
Radical Black feminist futures construct a politics of the imaginary anchored in liberation politics, amongst them, the works of Octavia Butler, which simultaneously constitute speculative fiction and a social justice handbook. The Parable series, in which the heroine evolves in a post-apocalyptic and dystopian United States, incorporates racial, gender, sexual, and class power dynamics. Butler successfully demonstrates how race, gender, sexuality, and class still frame how power and violence are distributed within communities, families, and interpersonal relationships, even in an almost stateless context. Popular and mainstream screenplays fail to showcase post-racial/non-racial contexts by ignoring the racial historical continuum. This course aims to investigate [anti]Blackness, racialization and race in contemporary US screenplays. To do so, we will analyze a vision of the future as the grounds for the untold racial archetypes and stereotypes. Building upon Black feminist and cultural studies theories, we will interrogate the politics of the imaginary in speculative fiction by using Octavia E. Butler Parable of the Sower. as the guiding thread.
[Week 1: August 28]. Introduction: What Is and Is Not SF?**
- Butler, Octavia E. Parable of the Sower. Vol. 1. Open Road Media, 2012. Chapters 1 and 2
- Suvin, Darko. “On What Is and Is Not an SF Narration; with a List of 101 Victorian Books That Should Be Excluded from SF Bibliographies.” Science Fiction Studies, 1978, 45–57.
- James, Joy. “Captive Maternal Love: Octavia Butler and Sci-Fi Family Values.” Literature and the Development of Feminist Theory (2015): 185.
- Suggested: Roberts, Adam. The history of science fiction. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016
[Week 2: August 30 and September 6]. Disembodiment and office wife **
- Film: Her bySpike Jonze (2014) – Apple TV and Amazon Prime
- Butler, Octavia E. Parable of the Sower. Vol. 1. Open Road Media, 2012 – Chapters 3
- Ashley Bardhan, Men Are Creating AI Girlfriends and Then Verbally Abusing Them, Futurism.com, https://futurism.com/chatbot-abuse
- Winifred R. Poster, “Racialized Surveillance in the Digital Service Economy,” in Captivating Technology: Race, Carceral Technoscience, and Liberatory Imagination in Everyday Life, ed. Ruha Benjamin (Duke University Press, 2019)
- Eva Gustavsson, “Virtual Servants: Stereotyping Female Front-Office Employees on the Internet,” Gender, Work & Organization 12, no. 5 (September 1, 2005): 400–419.
- Suggested: Benjamin, Ruha. Captivating Technology: Race, Carceral Technoscience, and Liberatory Imagination in Everyday Life (Duke University Press, 2019. Introduction p.1-25
Street Vendors Occupy Corona Plaza to Protest NYC Crackdown
Immigrant food vendors are occupying Corona Plaza in Queens in protest of NYC shutting them out of business by AMIR KHAFAGY – Documented – https://documentedny.com/2023/08/07/street-vendors-food-corona-plaza-queens/
[Week 3: September 11 & 13]. Silent and revolutionary dolls
- Film: Ex-Machina (2015) by Alex Garland – HBO Max
- Butler, Octavia E. Parable of the Sower. Vol. 1. Open Road Media, 2012 – Chapter 4
- Sumi K. Cho, “Converging Stereotypes in Racialized Sexual Harassment: Where the Model Minority Meets Suzie Wong,” Wing, Adrien Katherine, ed. Critical race feminism: A reader. NYU Press, 2003.
- Trevor Richardson, “Objectification and Abjectification in Ex Machina and Ghost in the Shell,” Medium (blog), December 19, 2017, https://medium.com/science-technoculture-in-film/objectification-and-abjectification-in-ex-machina-and-ghost-in-the-shell-b126b8832a1dLinks to an external site..
- Suggested : De Witt Douglas Kilgore, ‘Difference Engine: Aliens, Robots, and Other Racial Matters in the History of Science Fiction, Science Fiction Studies, 37.1 (2010), 16–22.
[Week 4: September 18 & 20] – These violent delights have violent ends
- Film: Hunger Games 1 (2012) by Francis Lawrence, Gary Ross – Amazon Prime
- Butler, Octavia E. Parable of the Sower. Vol. 1. Open Road Media, 2012 – Chapters 5 and 6
- Hartman, Saidiya. Scenes of subjection: Terror, slavery, and self-making in nineteenth-century America. WW Norton & Company, 2022. p.17-48
- Suggested: Newton, Huey P. Revolutionary Suicide:(Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition). Penguin, 2009. p.11-44
[Week 5: September 25 & 27]. Monsters are Ugly; Ugliness is the monster
- Film: I am Legend (2007) by Francis Lawrence – HBO Max, Prime and Hulu
- Butler, Octavia E. Parable of the Sower. Vol. 1. Open Road Media, 2012 – Chapters 7 and 8
- Da’Shaun, L. Harrison. “Pretty Ugly: The Politics of Desire.” Belly of the beast: The politics of anti-fatness as anti-blackness. North Atlantic Books, 2021, pp. 11-32
- Shabazz, Rashad. Spatializing blackness: Architectures of confinement and black masculinity in Chicago. University of Illinois Press, 2015. Introduction pp 1-10
- Suggested: Boggs, Grace Lee, and Robin D. G. Kelley. “‘The City Is the Black Man’s Land.’” Living for Change: An Autobiography, University of Minnesota Press, 2016, pp. 117–42. JSTOR,
[Week 6: October 2 & 4]. The Belly of the World
Film: Children of Men (2006) by Alfonso Cuarón – Hulu & Amazon Prime
- Butler, Octavia E. Parable of the Sower. Vol. 1. Open Road Media, 2012 – Chapters 9 and 10
- hooks, bell. “The oppositional gaze: Black female spectators.” Black American Cinema. Routledge, 2012. 288-302
- Hartman, Saidiya. “The belly of the world: A note on Black women’s labors.” Souls 18.1 (2016): 166-173
- James, Joy. “The womb of Western theory: Trauma, time theft, and the captive maternal.” Carceral Notebooks 12.1 (2016): 253-296.
[Week 7: October 9 & 11] Robot’s babies, Papa Maybe
- Film: Blade Runner 2042 (2017) by Denis Villeneuve – Amazon prime (loc)
- Butler, Octavia E. Parable of the Sower. Vol. 1. Open Road Media, 2012 – Chapters 11 and 12
- Oyěwùmí, Oyèrónkẹ́. The invention of women: Making an African sense of western gender discourses. U of Minnesota Press, 1997. pp. 1-30
- Snorton, C. Riley. Black on both sides: A racial history of trans identity. U of Minnesota Press, 2019, Chapter 1: “Anatomically speaking; Ungendered flesh and the science of sex.” in pp 17-53
- Suggested: Butler, Judith. Gender trouble. Routledge, 2002. introduction
[Week 8: October 16 & 18] The Land and Barbarians fantaisies
- Film: Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) by George Miller – Amazon prime ( loc)
- Butler, Octavia E. Parable of the Sower. Vol. 1. Open Road Media, 2012 – Chapters 13 and 14
- Said, Edward. “Introduction,” from Orientalism. ARC, Amsterdam University Press, 2018. introduction 1-28
- Farris, Sara R. In the name of women’s rights. Duke University Press, 2017. Introduction
- Suggested: Farris, Sara R. In the name of women’s rights. Duke University Press, 2017. Chapter 1
[Week 9: October 23 & 25] [Anti]Colonial Fantasy
- Film: Avatar. The Way of the Water (2022) by James Cameron – Disney Plus
- Butler, Octavia E. Parable of the Sower. Vol. 1. Open Road Media, 2012 – Chapters 15 and 16
- Asenap, Jason. Avatar: The Way of Water or how not to make Indigenous futurism movies, Grist.org, https://grist.org/culture/avatar-2-indigenous-futurist-fantasy-no-indigenous-input/Links to an external site.
- Links to an external site. Césaire, Aimé. Discourse on colonialism. NYU Press, 2001, A Poetic of anticolonialism
[Week 10: October 30 & November 1] Encoding Love and romance
- Tv Show: Black Mirror. San Junipero( S03, ep 4) and 15 Million Merits (S01 Ep 2) – Netflix
- Butler, Octavia E. Parable of the Sower. Vol. 1. Open Road Media, 2012 – Chapters 17 and 18
- hooks, bell. All About Love, chapter 1 https://wtf.tw/ref/hooks.pdfLinks to an external site.
- King, Rosamond S. “This Is You”: “Invisibility,” Community, and Women Who Desire Women” Island bodies: Transgressive sexualities in the Caribbean imagination. University Press of Florida, 2014
- Suggested: Browne, Simone. “Branding Blackness. Biometric Technology and the Surveillance of Blackness” Dark matters: On the surveillance of blackness. Duke University Press, 2015. pp.89-130
[Week 11: November 6 & 8]White Womanhood Future(s) 1/2
- Series: The Handmaid’s Tale, the first half of season 1 – Hulu
- hooks, bell. “Ain’t I a woman: Black women and feminism.” (1982). Chapter 1
- White Women’s Bodies and the Dilemma of Purity Culture Recovery by Sara Moslener- https://therevealer.org/white-womens-bodies-and-the-dilemma-of-purity-culture-recovery/
- Beckles, Hilary McD. “White women and slavery in the Caribbean.” History Workshop Journal. Vol. 36. No. 1. Oxford University Press, 1993
- Suggested: Jones-Rogers, Stephanie E. “They were her property.” They Were Her Property. Yale University Press, 2019. Chapter 1
[Week 12: November 13 & 15] White Womanhood Future(s) 2/2
- Series: The Handmaid’s Tale, the second half of season 1 – Hulu
- Butler, Octavia E. Parable of the Sower. Vol. 1. Open Road Media, 2012 – Chapter 19
- Collins, Patricia Hill. Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. routledge, 2002. pp 68-84
- Morrison, Toni. “What the black woman thinks about women’s lib.” New York (1971). https://www.nytimes.com/1971/08/22/archives/what-the-black-woman-thinks-about-womens-lib-the-black-woman-and.htmlLinks to an external site.
- Links to an external site.
- Suggested: Terrefe, Selamawit D. “The pornotrope of decolonial feminism.” Critical Philosophy of Race 8.1-2 (2020): 134-164
[Week 13: November 20 & 22] The kids gonna be alright
- Film: The Girl With All the Gifts (2016) by Colm McCarthy – Amazon Prime
- Butler, Octavia E. Parable of the Sower. Vol. 1. Open Road Media, 2012 – Chapters 20, 21 and 22
- hooks, bell. Teaching to transgress. Routledge, 2014. – Chapter 5 “Theory as Liberatory Practice” 59-76
- hooks, bell. All About Love, chapter 2: Childhood Lessons
[Week 14: November 27 & 29] The Day after the End of the World
- Film: Pumzi (2009) by Wanuri Kahiu – Youtube
- Butler, Octavia E. Parable of the Sower. Vol. 1. Open Road Media, 2012 – Chapters 23, 24 and 25
- Schalk, Sami. “The Future of Bodyminds, Bodyminds of the Future” Bodyminds reimagined:(Dis) ability, race, and gender in Black women’s speculative fiction. Duke University Press, 2018. Pp.85-112
- “What a body can do” Elsa Dorlin https://www.radicalphilosophy.com/article/what-a-body-can-doLinks to an external site.
[Week 15: December 4 & 6] AntiBlackness and the end of the World: Afropessimism
- Episode: Black Mirror/Black Museum (Seaosn 4, episode 6) – Netflix
- Wilderson III, Frank B. Afropessimism. Liveright Publishing, 2020. Chapter one (pp.1-18)
- Fanon, Frantz. Black skin, white masks. Grove press, 2008.chapter 1
- I Must Become a Menace to My Enemies by June Jordan https://poets.org/poem/i-must-become-menace-my-enemies
- Sharpe, Christina. In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, Chapter 1
[Week 16: December 11 ] Conclusion