Wednesday, January 2, 2008

brave new monkey: american futurity

The southern flank of the culturemonkey revolutionary guard—and the only two of us who have actually posted anything to the site yet, not that we don't love Jacob no matter how little he posts—will be taking an independent study this semester on American and Anglospheric representations of the future, focusing on the concepts of utopia, dystopia, and heterotopia in science fiction on one axis and prediction vs. prescription on another. Joining us in this study will be a new, fourth culturemonkey, klarr, who has already joined traxus on the internets in his recent altDurham project and who will surely get around to accepting her Blogger invitation one of these days.

Most importantly, we're going to use culturemonkey as a central part of the course, which means this site will be much more active than we kept it last semester, with multiple posts per week focusing along the lines of the syllabus we've devised for ourselves:

Week 0: Utopia
Sir Thomas More’s Utopia

Week 1: Building the Future
Marinetti, “Futurist Manifesto”/ architecture manifestos
H.G. Wells, The Discovery of the Future, more
J.G. Ballard, High Rise
Andrew Ross, The Celebration Chronicles
FILM: 2001

Week 2: The Past as Anti-Future
Samuel Butler, Erewhon
George Stewart, Earth Abides
Wyndham Lewis
Bob Black, The Abolition of Work (excerpts)
Marshall Sahlins, Stone Age Economics (excerpts)
FILM: The Quiet Earth

Week 3: The Future of Socialism
Jack London, The Iron Heel
A critical essay that discusses William Morris’s News From Nowhere and Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward and their influence
”Proletarian Literature” from William Empson’s Some Versions of Pastoral
Brook Farm

Week 4: Automation
Marx, Taylor, Ford
Kurt Vonnegut, Player Piano
FILMS: THX-1138, Brazil

Week 5: The Nuclear Sublime
Fate of the Earth (selections)
Nevil Shute, On the Beach
Sontag, Baudrillard
Science Fiction: The Gernsback Years (selections)
FILMS: Dr. Strangelove, Atomic Cafe, etc

Week 6 The Post-Apocalyptic
Philip K. Dick, Dr. Bloodmoney
J.G. Ballard, The Drowned World
FILM: Zardoz

Week 7: Race Fantasies / Race Wars
Joe Haldeman, The Forever War
Excerpts from Lindqvist, A History of Bombing
Science Fiction: The Gernsback Years (selections)
Hugo Gernsback and the Century of Science Fiction (selections)
Lovecraft, “Whisperer in the Dark”
Walter Mosley, “The Nig in Me”
FILMS: Planet of the Apes, Starship Troopers

Week 8: Race and Outer Space: Afrofuturism
Science Fiction: The Gernsback Years (selections)
George Schuyler, “The Rise of the Black Internationale”
Marcus Garvey on Pan-Africanism, “The Black Star Line”
Music/lyrics from Sun Ra, George Clinton (P-Funk Mythology), Lee “Scratch”
Perry, Cybotron, Afrika Bambaataa, and DJ Spooky
One essay each from Mark Dery and DJ Spooky (Paul D. Miller)
“Afrotech and Outer Spaces,” Art Journal, vol. 60, no. 3
FILM: Space Is The Place

Week 9: Dreaming the Future / Future History / Time Travel and Alt. Universes
Olaf Stapleton, Starmaker
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven
Marge Piercy, Woman on the Edge of Time
Theodore Sturgeon, “Microcosmic God”
Asimov, Foundation series
H.G. Wells, “The Shape of Things to Come,” The Time Machine
H.R. Haldeman
Larry Niven, “All the Myraid Ways”

Week 10: The Triple Revolution
“The Triple Revolution”: the cybernation revolution of increasing automation; the weaponry revolution of mutually assured destruction; and the human rights revolution.
Philip Jose Farmer, Riders of the Purple Wage
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed
William Gibson, The Gernsback Continuum
Alvin Toffler, Future Shock
No Future
FILMS: Rollerball, Logan’s Run

Week 11: Heterotopia
Samuel Delaney, Triton
Foucault, “Heterotopia”

Week 12: Feminism, Reproduction, and Anti-Reproduction
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
Ocatavia Butler, "Bloodchild"
Tiptree, “Houston, Houston, Do You Read?”
Tiptree, “Love Is the Plan, the Plan is Death”
Candace Jane Dorsey, “Learning about Machine Sex”

Week 13: Environmental Control
Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake
Starhawk, The Fifth Sacred Thing
Ursula K. LeGuin, Always Coming Home
Marge Piercy, He, She, It
James Tiptree, Jr. "The Last Flight of Doctor Ain" (1969)
Chapters from Silent Spring
FILM: Safe

Week 14: Colonizing Space
Kim Stanley Robinson, Mars Trilogy
Gerard O’Neill, The High Frontier

Week 15: Cybercapitalism and Postmodern Empire
Bruce Sterling, “Cyberpunk in the 90s”
Gibson, “Burning Chrome”
Gibson, Pattern Recognition
Bruce Sterling, Islands in the Net
H.G. Wells (“World Brain,” “New World Order,” maybe others)
Fukuyama, “The End of History”
Hardt/Negri, Empire, Multitudes (selections)
FILMS: Star Trek, Ender’s Game, Hackers

Week 16: Cyberpunk: Replication, Digitality, and the Singularity
Harraway, Cyborg Manifesto and later renunciation
Pat Cadigan, Synners
Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age
Greg Egan, Permutation City
Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep?
FILM: Blade Runner
Charles Stross, Accelerando
Isaac Asimov, “The Last Question”
Greg Bear, “Blood Music”
Vernor Vinge, “True Names”
Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity is Near (selections)

Week 17: Future of Death
Philip K. Dick, Dr. Futurity
The Long Emergency (selections)
FILM: Children of Men
FILM: The Future of Food and The End of Suburbia
Each week's major text is in bold. So come back soon for a post or two on More's Utopia, and we'll run from there into architecture and Ballard, and on and on, into the future...