Other Worlds: Anthropology Through Science Fiction

“This class has taught me to think more critically about our society and societal norms. I find myself constantly questioning the things I take for granted and being more critical of my own and others’ beliefs.”

“This class excelled in the areas of creativity where students were forced to create their own worlds and encounters with other worlds. The instructor challenged us and forced us to look at every aspect of the society and culture that we were uncovering from as much of an unbiased place as possible.”

“I think this course has greatly contributed to my education because I feel that I have a clear understanding of how we are supposed to question everything, our societal norms and the way we think and how so many aspects of culture are variable across cultures. This course has given me a better understanding of how not every culture works the same way and that we should be critiquing our society, and it has opened my eyes a lot.”

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Though science fiction is a genre of literature and anthropology is a social science, they are united in their efforts to describe cultures (be they real or imaginary) and understand cultural differences. In fact, science fiction often features anthropologists as protagonists who encounter new cultures and struggle to understand radical otherness and human difference. This course pairs science fiction literature about “other worlds” with ethnographic examples of documented cultural variation as an introduction to the anthropological study of human diversity and what it means to be human. Students will engage classic and contemporary anthropological topics, including: confronting otherness, variations in family, social, and political organization, and efforts to enhance the human body/human species.

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