The Literature of Science Fiction
I offer a regular-semester SF literature course at KU available for undergraduate (formerly ENGL 506 or 690), or graduate (formerly ENGL 690 or 790) credit. As with my Summer SF Institute course, students may, for a donation to the Center, request in advance to take the course not-for-credit through the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction, on a space-available basis.
Goals and Overview
"The most powerful works of SF don't describe the future - they change it." - Annalee Newitz, io9.
Become fluent in SF by becoming familiar with some of the most-influential works that shaped the genre and the world we inhabit today - and where we'll live tomorrow.
Gain an understanding of contemporary and future science fiction by studying the history of the genre and many of the works that started important conversations about what it means to be human in a changing world. After reading a diversity of influential SF, we discuss how the genre got to be what it is today by comparing the works and their place in the evolution of SF, from the earliest prototypical examples through recent work. Demonstrate your understanding of the genre by writing weekly reading responses, a mid-term paper, participating in a group presentation, and creating a substantial final project. SF author and scholar Chris McKitterick leads the course.
Meets for the entire Fall semester, alternating between short fiction and novels from year to year. SF author and scholar Chris McKitterick leads the course. See this map of the University of Kansas to find your way to the classroom, and this map of KU parking (note: .pdf files).
Officially satisfies at least KU Core Goal 6, "Integration and Creativity."
For more details, click here to view an older novels syllabus (and here to view an older short-fiction syllabus). Includes all the details, including reading order, meeting space, assignment information, and so forth. Regularly re-developed, so check back for updates.
Costs and Enrollment
For credit-seeking students, the cost is what the University charges for three credits tuition; for credit-earning non-residents, be aware that tuition is higher. KU also offers a "Visitor/Senior Citizen Waiver" of campus fees for qualified non-degree-seeking student applicants; see this page for more info.
To enroll for University of Kansas credit, do so in the usual fashion.
University of Kansas map:
Kansas Union map:
Lawrence map (a bus-route map, but very useful):
The City of Lawrence, Kansas
For anyone who hasn't visited, Lawrence is wonderful, a lively small city in the Kaw River valley, filled with art, events and activities. The location of the University of Kansas, Lawrence is situated about 40 miles from Kansas City and 20 miles from Topeka. Summers can be hot, but classrooms and housing are air-conditioned.
Among its many amenities, the University of Kansas has a large science-fiction collection and good reference collections; museums of natural history and art; and sports, theater, and concerts. Lawrence has many excellent restaurants, shopping, and recreational opportunities. Kansas City is less than an hour away. Nighttime opportunities include movies, dinner, concerts, and more.
The nearest major airport is Kansas City International, about 55 miles from
Lawrence. Transportation to Lawrence from Kansas City International can be
arranged through one of several airport shuttle services. By car, Lawrence is at
the intersection of U.S. 59 and
We believe strongly in the free sharing of information, so you'll find a lot of content - including all of my course syllabi and many materials from my classes - on this and related sites and social networks as part of the my educational outreach. Feel free to use this content for independent study, or to adapt it for your own educational and nonprofit purposes; just please credit us and link back to this website.
This site is associated with the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), the Science Fiction Research Association (SFRA), the University of Kansas, and other organizations, and is owned by James Gunn and Chris McKitterick. Web developer since 1992 is Chris McKitterick.
This website and its contents are copyright 1992-2017 by Christopher McKitterick except where noted, and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. (Feel free to use and adapt for non-profit purposes, with attribution. For publication or profit purposes, please contact James Gunn or Chris McKitterick.)