Paul Watkins
Location: Nanaimo (345.208) 
Class Hours:  Tues & Thur 4 pm – 5:20 pm
Office Hours: Tues & Thur 2 pm – 3 pm
Phone: Ext. 2118 | Office: 345.204

“in the poetics of struggle and lived experience, in the utterances of ordinary folk, in the cultural products of social movements, in the reflections of activists, we discover the many different cognitive maps of the future, of the world not yet born.” 

Robin D.G. Kelley

ENGL 330 examines the speculative narrative genre (1962-present) via texts and media that amplify the past and present to imagine possible futures—futures that simultaneously warn us and provide an opportunity, like Chris Marker’s La Jetée, to “call past and future to the rescue of the present.” The selected texts and media explore themes of time, identity, gender, technology, and resistance to forms of oppression. At their best, they provide alternative modes for reimagining a better future. We will look at a wide range of work in the speculative fiction genre—amplifying marginal voices—as we move from cyberpunk to writers and artists working in the genres of Indigenous Wonderworks and Afrofuturism.


  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick
  • The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline [or Hunting by Stars]
  • Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
  • Binti by Nnedi Okorafor [purchase online]


  • Participation/ Seminar Questions 10%
  • Close Reading (1250 words) 20%                 
  • Collaborative Presentation 20%
  • Creative Intervention 20%     
  • Research Essay (2500 words) 30%

See the course outline on VIULearn for a detailed breakdown of assignments.


Please note that this schedule is subject to change as the term progresses.

Jan 5                
Introduction to the course; standards and expectations; general discussion 
Screening: Chris Marker, La Jetée 

Jan 10              
Reading: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Ch. 1-7)
Lecture: Cyberpunk and Posthumanism
Group Presentation Sign-up

Jan 12              
Reading: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Ch. 8-15)
Seminar 1Discussion of Close Reading Assignment

Jan 17              
Reading: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Ch. 15-22)
Secondary Reading: Greenblatt, “‘More Human Than Human’: ‘Flattening of Affect,’ Synthetic Humans, and the Social Construction of Maleness”
Group One Presentation

Jan 19              
Screening: Ridley Scott, Blade Runner

Jan 24              
Screening and discussion: Blade Runner
Secondary Reading: Wheale, “Recognising a ‘human-Thing’: cyborgs, robots and replicants in Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner”; Haraway, “ A Cyborg Manifesto” 
Group Two Presentation

A short analysis of Blade Runner by Steven Benedict

Jan 26              
Lecture: Gender in Science Fiction 
Reading: Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness (Ch. 1-6)

Jan 31              
Reading: The Left Hand of Darkness (Ch. 7-13)
Secondary Reading: Le Guin, “Is Gender Necessary?”
Seminar 2

Feb 2               
VIULearn Class
Watch: Black Mirror, “Nosedive” (online, Seminar 3)

Feb 7               
Reading: The Left Hand of Darkness (Ch. 14-20)
Secondary Readings: Fayad, “Aliens, Androgynes, and Anthropology” (VIU Learn) and Pearson, “Postcolonialism/s, Gender/s, Sexuality/ies and the Legacy of The Left Hand of Darkness…” (VIU Learn)
Group Three Presentation

The Left Hand of Darkness might get a TV adaptation 

Feb 9
Class Viewing: “San Junipero” and discussion

Feb 14             
Reading: Ken Lui, “The Perfect Match” and “Simulacrum” (VIULearn)
Seminar 4
Short Essay Due

Feb 16             
Indigenous Wonderworks: Jaye Simpson, “The Ark of the Turtle’s Back;”Rebecca Roanhorse, “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™; and Drew Hayden Taylor, “Mr. Gizmo” (VIULearn)
Seminar 5

Feb 20-24        Reading Week

Feb 28             
Lecture: Residential Schools and Indigenous Wonderworks 
Secondary Reading: Intro from Final Report of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (VIU Learn)
Reading: Cherie Dimaline, The Marrow Thieves (1-55)

Mar 2              
Reading: The Marrow Thieves (56-153)
Seminar 6
Discussion of Research Papers

Mar 7              
Reading: The Marrow Thieves (154-230)
Secondary article: Moritz Ingwersen, “Reclaiming Fossil Ghosts…” (VIULearn)
Group Four Presentation

Mar 9              
Short Lecture: Afrofuturism: From Sun Ra to Black Panther           
Reading: Samuel R. Delany, “Driftglass”
Listenings: Sun Ra, Janelle Monáe, OutKast  
Clips: Brother from Another PlanetSpace is the Place, Black Panther
Seminar 7

Mar 14            
Reading: Octavia Butler, “Bloodchild” and “Speech Sounds” (VIU Learn)
Secondary Reading: Thibodeau, “Alien Bodies and a Queer Future: Sexual Revision in Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild” and James Tiptree, Jr.’s “With Delicate Mad Hands”
Group Five Presentation

Mar 16           
Reading: Butler, Parable of the Sower 

Mar 21            
Reading: Butler, Parable of the Sower 
Seminar 8

Mar 23            
Reading: Butler, Parable of the Sower
Seminar 9

Mar 28            
Reading: Butler, Parable of the Sower
Secondary Articles: Smith, “Acorns and Octavia” (website); Guerrero, “Post-Apocalyptic Memory Sites: Damaged Space, Nostalgia, and Refuge in Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower
Group Six Presentation

March 30        
Creative Interventions Due and Sharing

April 4             
Nnedi Okorafor, Binti
Seminar 10

April 6             
Ofafar, Binti
Secondary Reading: Seow, “Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti: African Science Fiction and the Reimagined Black Girl”
Group Seven Presentation

April 11           


Screening: Jordan Peele, Get Out

April 13           
Screening and discussion: Get Out
Secondary Reading: Jarvis, “Anger translator: Jordan Peele’s Get Out
Research Paper Due

The Power of Black Speculation in Get Out