Ursula K. Heise Office Hours: M 2-4, F 11-12
Department of English Phone: 650-723-4609
Building 460-419 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Techno Dreams and Nightmares
Class Meetings: TTh 11:00-12:30, 200-030
Texts and Films:
1. Ovid, "The Story of Pygmalion." Metamorphoses. Trans. Rolfe Humphries. Bloomington:
Indiana University Press, 1955. 241-43. [8 A.D.; on website]
2. Mary Shelley, Frankenstein: The 1818 Text. Ed. Marilyn Butler. Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1998. [1818/1831]
3. H[erbert] G[eorge] Wells, The Island of Dr. Moreau. New York: Dover, 1996. 
4. Aldous Huxley, Chs. 1-3 of Brave New World. New York: HarperCollins, 1998. [1932; on
5. Adolfo Bioy Casares, The Invention of Morel. Trans. Ruth L.C. Simms. New York: New
York Review Books, 2003. [La invención de Morel, 1940]
6. Blade Runner. Dir. Ridley Scott. Perf. Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Daryl
Hannah, William Sanderson. Blade Runner Partnership/Ladd Co./Sir Run Run Shaw/
Warner, 1982. [film; director's cut]
7. Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? New York: Ballantine-Del Rey,
8. William Gibson, Neuromancer. New York: Ace, 2000. 
9. Bruce Sterling, Schismatrix, in Schismatrix Plus. New York: Ace, 1996. 
10. Donna J. Haraway, "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism
in the Late Twentieth Century." Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of
Nature. New York: Routledge, 1991. 149-81. [1984; on website]
11. Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake. New York: Anchor Books, 2003.
12. Mamoru Oshii, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. 2004. [animated film]
13. Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, We3. New York: DC Comics, 2005. [graphic novel]
All books are available at the Stanford Bookstore and are also on reserve at Green Library
along with the films. Please do not use any editions of Shelley's, Wells' and Gibson's
novels other than the ones officially assigned, as this will lead to confusions over
pagination in class and in your papers. Shorter essays and chapters can be downloaded
from the course website at Stanford Coursework in PDF format. The syllabus and
assignments are all available at the Coursework website as well, and all changes will be
posted there. Please visit the website regularly to make sure you're aware of all
assignments, schedule changes, hand-outs and announcements.
Science Fiction is the cultural genre through which modern societies think about their
engagement with science and technology – sometimes joyfully and sometimes anxiously.
"Techno Dreams and Nightmares" will trace this relationship from the origins of the genre
in nineteenth-century European literature to current North American and Japanese
developments through the theme of the technologically created humans of various kinds.
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818/1831) lies at the origin of two different traditions of
thinking about human identity and human bodies as they are shaped by science and
technology: one which focuses on mechanically produced minds and bodies such as robots,
computers, cyborgs and AIs, and one which foregrounds biologically engineered beings
such as evolved animals, androids, clones and, sometimes, aliens. The course will examine
both of these traditions comparatively. How do we draw the boundaries between humans
and machines, and between humans and animals? What should we think of as parts of a
human body, and what is "alien" to it? How do science and technology alter the way we
think about the relationship between mind, body and environment? How do they affect
perception, emotion and memory? Are male and female bodies thought to stand in a
different relationship to technological artifacts? Does "being human" mean something
different now than in the nineteenth century? These are some of the questions we will
pursue through the study of SF novels, films and comic books, including Wells' Island of
Dr. Moreau, Bioy Casares' The Invention of Morel, Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric
Sheep?, Scott's Blade Runner, Gibson's Neuromancer, Sterling's Schismatrix, Atwood's
Oryx and Crake, Oshii's Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, and Morrison and Quitely's We3.
We will also consider contemporary gaming environments such as Second Life as one of
the newest fields in which science fiction can evolve.
1. Regular attendance and fulfillment of the reading assignments. You cannot miss more
than two lectures without your grade being affected. Please note that you're
responsible for submitting assignments and attaining the learning goals of each week's
classes, regardless of whether you've attended or not. As a matter of courtesy, I
appreciate it when you let me know in advance those dates when you have to miss a
class. If a major emergency prevents you from attending class or fulfilling assignments
for a whole week or more, you have an obligation to let me know and come in to talk
about make-up arrangements.
2. Your grade will be made up of the following components:
• Participation in discussions during lecture: 10% of final grade
• Two papers (4-5 pages each): 20% of final grade each (total: 40%).
• Take-home midterm: 20% of final grade.
• Cumulative take-home final: 20% of final grade.
• Performance in section: 10% of final grade.
3. Each session will include various class formats, minimally a discussion period alongside
the lecture. If you participate regularly in these discussions, it will help get you the
higher final grade if you're numerically in between grades, and may even get you a
higher grade than the rest of your performance warrants.
4. A reminder about grades: B-range grades are given for work that fulfills the
assignment completely and competently; A-range grades for work that significantly
exceeds average completion requirements; C-range grades for work that contains
significant errors or falls short of fully answering the assignment; D for work that just
barely addresses minimum requirements.
5. Pass/No Pass option: you have to fulfill all the writing requirements except the take-
home final, and you have to enroll in a section.
Syllabus: Techno Dreams & Nightmares
Tue, Jan 5 Science, Literature and the Imagination of the Future
Text: "The Story of Pygmalion" from Ovid, Metamorphoses Bk.X
Film Clip: from Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, by Mamoru Oshii
Thur, Jan 7 The Quest for Knowledge and the Creation of Human Beings
Text: Mary Shelley, Frankenstein Vol.1
Tue, Jan 12 Making a Creature: Technology between Self and Other
Text: Shelley, Frankenstein Vol.2
Thur, Jan 14 From Frankenstein to Cyborgs and Clones:
The Genesis of a Cultural Myth
Text: Shelley, Frankenstein Vol.3
Tue, Jan 19 Evolution, Technology, and the Challenge of the Animal
Text: H.G. Wells, The Island of Dr. Moreau
Thur, Jan 21 Virtual Selves
Text: Bioy Casares, The Invention of Morel
Tue, Jan 26 Evolution, Technology and the Mass-Produced Human Self
Text: Aldous Huxley, Brave New World 1-56 (website)
Thur, Jan 28 Rebellion of the Androids
Text: Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Ch.1-10 (skip intro)
Tue, Feb 2 "The Electric Things Have Their Lives Too"
Text: Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Ch.11-22
Paper #1 due (topics on website)
Film Screening: Blade Runner, 8 pm
Thur, Feb 4 Techno-Memories
Film: Ridley Scott, Blade Runner
Tue, Feb 9 The Invention of Cyberspace
Sterling, "Preface" to Mirrorshades anthology
William Gibson, Neuromancer Ch.1-10
Take-home midterm assignment distributed.
Thur, Feb 11 Cyberspace and Globalization
Text: Gibson, Neuromancer Ch.11-Coda (skip afterword)
Tue, Feb 16 Posthumanism and the Concept of the Cyborg
Donna Haraway, "A Cyborg Manifesto" (website)
Thur, Feb 18 Out of This World: New Ecosystems, New Bodies
Text: Bruce Sterling, Schismatrix Pts.1-2
Tue, Feb 23 Posthuman Utopia
Text: Sterling, Schismatrix Pt.3 (skip Shaper/Mechanist stories)
Thur, Feb 25 Posthuman Dystopia
Text: Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake Ch.1-7
Tue, Mar 2 Old and New Humans (and a few pigoons)
Text: Atwood, Oryx and Crake Ch.8-15
Thurs, Mar 4 Cyborg Animals
Paper #2 due (topics on website)
Tue, Mar 9 Posthumanism: Dolls, Robots, Cyborgs, Children, Animals
Film: Oshii, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence
Thur, Mar 11 Conclusion: Avatars R Us – Human Identity in the Age of
Take-home final assignment distributed.
Wed, Mar 17 Take-home final due 12:00 noon.