MSTU2009 SCIENCE FICTION FILM & TELEVISION
Semester 2, 2005
School of English, Media Studies & Art History
Date of this Course Profile: 18 July 2005
Unit value #2
Course convenor: Dr Frances Bonner
Prerequisite: CCST1300 Introduction to Film and Television Studies
Incompatible: CCST2340 or CCST2210 (previous codes for same course)
Contact Hours: 12 x 1.5 hr lectures and 10 x 1 hr tutorials. Plus two screenings which are not an
optional extra, but integral to the course.
Dr Frances Bonner (FB) Rm 515 Michie Building, Phone: 33651438; (Convenor)
Consultation hours: Wed. 10 -12 noon
Dr Michele Pierson (MP) Rm 516 Michie Building, Phone: 33653136
Dr Frances Bonner (FB)
Ms Heather Stewart (HS) Rm 534, Tel 33652502. Email: email@example.com
Consultation hours Tues. 10-11am
Lecture Monday 12 -1.30pm 45-104 (Mansergh Shaw)
Tutorials: (all held in the Michie Building)
1. 2-3pm Mondays R542 (FB) 2. 2-3pm Mondays R435 (HS)
3. 3-4pm Mondays R435 (HS)
MSTU2009 develops from the introductory courses in Communication and Cultural Studies and in
Film and Television by focussing on the area of genre. As a genre study, it is concerned with a body
of related texts and their continuities and discontinuities. It considers the generic staples of repetition
and difference, but also asks questions about modulation, boundary wars and blurred boundaries
within the genre and between it and its near associates.
The key questions organising the course are: why is science fiction such a particular cinematic and
televisual genre? and why does it engender such strong responses in audiences? Part of the special
character of science fiction is that unlike other genres, it has as its overriding theme the matter of
politico-social organisation and progress (including its obverse, regress). The overriding themes of
virtually all other popular genres - love/sex and law & order - are certainly evident and at times
individually dominant, but science fiction constantly structures its existence around other ways of
being which implicitly and explicitly comment on how things are here and now; how they could be
better; and how they could be worse. Obviously utopian (not to mention dystopian and heterotopian)
fictions are one version of this, but they are not as common in film and television as they are in print,
so the focus will be on the other ways in which progress or other ways of being are explored, including
encounters with aliens, space opera, time travel, and artificial beings.
1. develop a familiarity and competence with genre study through a detailed examination of a
particular genre - science fiction.
2. relate the theoretical tools used to the areas studied in other courses in film and television.
3. be able to use the theoretical tools provided to analyse and discuss both contemporary and non-
contemporary texts and their social, political and cultural contexts.
4. become more aware of the specificities of film and of television by examining how a single genre
(and sometimes a single title) is varied to suit the medium for which it is produced.
Text: MSTU2009 Course Reader
There are two screenings which are an integral (ie necessary, not optional) part of the course
structure. These will be held in the Schonell cinema on Mondays at 4.30pm. Students should attend
these screenings if at all possible, whether or not they have previously seen the films. DVDs or videos
of the films will be available in the High Use section of the Library for those students who have
classes or are working during the screening times.
1st August: 4.30 - 6.30pm Gattaca (Andrew Niccol, 1997) 106 mins
12th September: 4.30 6.30pm Dark City (Alex Proyas, 1998) 100 mins.
The particular character of the genre of science fiction, discussed above, means that this course has
as one of its chief graduate attributes ETHICAL AND SOCIAL UNDERSTANDING. This is pervasive
but will be particularly notable as a feature of the first worksheet. The major essay will be the site
where students’ abilities in EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION and in the exercise of CRITICAL
JUDGEMENT are most tested. The final worksheet, reflecting on the course as a whole will provide
an opportunity for students to demonstrate their IN-DEPTH KNOWLEDGE OF THE FIELD OF
All students are assumed to have taken the prerequisite course CCST1300 Introduction to Film and
Television and there will be no provision in this course for revision of the basic concepts taught there.
Assessment work will draw on this knowledge. Students also will be assumed to have studied either
CCST1000 or MSTU1000. Experience watching a range of science fiction films and television
programs is also assumed. Students who also read science fiction (novels and comics) are very
welcome, although this background will be in no way required.
Teaching and learning modes
The course consists of lectures and tutorials both of which need to be attended for satisfactory
completion of MSTU2009. The lectures will set the ambit of the week’s concerns and establish ways
of approaching the subject material while tutorials will centre around set readings relating to the topic.
The readings must be done before attending the tutorial, otherwise informed participation is not
possible. Additionally students need to see the two set films and from time to time particular broadcast
television programs related to each week’s tutorial concerns.
Student Support Services:
Any student with a disability who may require alternative academic arrangements in the course (i.e.
subject) is encouraged to seek advice at the commencement of the semester from a Disability Advisor
at Student Support Services. Student Support Services offers appointments with counsellors,
disability advisers, learning advisers, international student advisers and financial assistance advisers.
You many either phone, or drop in and make the appointment in person. Appointments are up to 50
minutes in duration. Contact Numbers for St. Lucia Campus: (07) 3365 1704 Emergency: (After
Hours) 1800 800 123
What is science fiction?
Week 1. 25 July
Lecture: Historical development of sf film and television - FB
No tutorials but students are asked to read the first two chapters of Adam Roberts Science Fiction
London: Routledge, 2000, many copies of which are held in the library to start developing their
approach to the academic study of science fiction.
Week 2. 1 August
Screening Schonell Cinema Monday 1 August 4.30-6.30pm Gattaca
Lecture: What is sf and why is it special? - FB
Tutorials: the special character of science fiction
Reading: Kirby, David A.” The New Eugenics in Cinema: Genetic Determinism and Gene Therapy in
Gattaca”, Science-Fiction-Studies 2000 July; 27.2 (#81): 193 -215
Week 3. 8 August
Lecture: What’s special about sf on film and TV: the joy of SFX - MP
Tutorial: Special Effects
Reading: Landon, Brooks "The Aesthetics of Ambivalence: Spectacle and Special Effects, Trickery
and Discovery", in The Aesthetics of Ambivalence: Rethinking Science Fiction Film in the Age
of Electronic (Re)Production. Westport, Conn. and London: Greenwood Press, 1992. 61-92.
Week 4. 15 August
Lecture: What’s special about sf on film and TV: audiences - FB
Reading: Brooker, Will. Using the Force: Creativity, Community, and Star Wars Fans. New York:
Continuum, 2002. (Epilogue). 239-274.
First worksheet due 4pm 18 Aug. 2005
Thinking through science fiction
Week 5. 22 August
Lecture: Outer Space - FB
Tutorial: Getting from A to B (or X)
Reading: Johnson-Smith, Jan. American Science Fiction TV: Star Trek, Stargate and Beyond.
Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan UP. 2005. (Chap. 5 “Wormhole X-Treme! Images of Time and
Week 6. 29 August
Lecture: Aliens - MP
Tutorial: BEMs (bug-eyed monsters) and other life-forms
Reading: Adam Roberts Science Fiction London: Routledge, 2000. (Chapter 4) 118-145
Week 7. 5 September
Lecture: Artificial life - FB
Tutorial: Robots, androids and other thinking machines
Reading: Lavender, Isiah. “Technicity: AI and Cyborg Ethnicity in The Matrix” Extrapolation 45.4
Week 8. Monday 12 September
Screening: Dark City (Alex Proyas, 1998) 100 mins. Schonell Cinema 4.30-6.30pm
No classes this week, students working on major essay
Week 9. 19 September
Lecture: Future Cities - FB
Tutorial: Cities on earth or elsewhere.
Reading: Wong, Kin Yuen “On the Edge of Spaces: Blade Runner, Ghost in the Shell and Hong
Kong’s Cityscape” Science Fiction Studies 27.1 (2000): 1-21.
Essay due 4pm 23 Sept. 2005
Week 10. 3 October
Lecture: Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic narratives - FB
Tutorial: The appeal of the all-but-destroyed world
Reading: Whelehan, Imelda & Esther Sonnet “Regendered Reading: Tank Girl and Postmodern
Intertextuality” in Deborah Cartmell, I.Q. Hunter, Heidi Kaye and Imelda Whelehan eds Trash:
Popular Culture and its Audience London: Pluto Press, 1997
Week 11. 10 October
Lecture: Time travel - FB
Tutorial: Moving backwards and forwards in time
Reading: Gordon, Andrew “Back to the Future: Oedipus as Time Traveller” Liquid Metal: The Science
Fiction Film Reader. Ed. Sean Redmond. London & New York: Wallflower Press, 2004 .
Week 12. 17 October
Lecture: Satire/spoof/comedy - FB
Tutorial: Funny futures or generic parodies
Reading: Helford, Elyce Rae “Reading Masculinities in the 'Post-Patriarchal' Space of Red Dwarf”
Foundation. 64. (1995): 20-31
Week 13. 24 October
Lecture: Conclusion and the shifting boundaries - FB
No tutorials this week - Second worksheet due 4pm 27 Oct. 2005
The assessment will comprise three elements: tutorial attendance and participation (10%) an essay
(50%) and two worksheets (20% each). Topics for the essay will be distributed at the beginning of the
second week and it will be due on 23 Sept. 2005. The first worksheet will be due in Week 4 and the
Second in Week 13.
The percentage range for the final grade will follow the School marking system:
Grade 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Mark 100–85% 84–75% 74–65% 64–50% 49–45% 44–25% 24–0%
The worksheets will be assessed using the following criteria:
1. Legibility. (Since worksheet answers are written in the spaces provided on the sheets themselves,
legibility is important. Illegible answers cannot be awarded marks.)
4. Accuracy in paraphrasing. (Quotation from secondary sources will not be necessary - paraphrasing
will almost always be preferable.)
Directions given on the worksheets about appropriate form and approximate length for answers will
need to be followed.
The research essay will be assessed using the following criteria activated as indicated on the
criteria sheet attached to the topic sheet.
1. How well you have critically analysed the material discussed.
2. The appropriateness of the primary texts selected.
3. Evidence of research and its incorporation into your arguments.
4. How well you have applied the theoretical concepts you use.
5. How logically you have developed your argument.
6. The selection and use of examples from your texts.
7. The standard of writing style, essay structure and general presentation.
8. The extent to which the essay answers and remains focussed on the question posed.
9. Accurate referencing of primary and secondary sources in the terms set by the School Style Guide.
The School does not accept plagiarism which is regarded as a major infringement of the University’s
academic values to which academic penalties will be applied.
The Handbook of University Policies and Procedures has a clear policy on plagiarism in section
3.40.12, Academic Integrity and Plagiarism. You should read this at
http://www.uq.edu.au/hupp/index.html?page=25128 and make yourself thoroughly familiar with its
It defines plagiarism as
“the act of misrepresenting as one's own original work the ideas, interpretations, words or creative
works of another. These include published and unpublished documents, designs, music, sounds,
images, photographs, computer codes and ideas gained through working in a group. These ideas,
interpretations, words or works may be found in print and/or electronic media’ (2.1).
Some examples of plagiarism where the source has not been acknowledged are given in 2.2 and
!Direct copying of paragraphs, sentences, a single sentence or significant parts of a sentence;
!Direct copying of paragraphs, sentences, a single sentence or significant parts of a sentence with an
end reference but without quotation marks around the copied text;
!Copying ideas, concepts, research results, computer codes, statistical tables, designs, images,
sounds or text or any combination of these;
!Paraphrasing, summarising or simply rearranging another person's words, ideas, etc without
changing the basic structure and/or meaning of the text;
!Offering an idea or interpretation that is not one's own without identifying whose idea or interpretation
!A ‘cut and paste' of statements from multiple sources;
!Presenting as independent, work done in collaboration with others;
!Copying or adapting another student's original work into a submitted assessment item (2.2).
You should note that it does not define plagiarism only as an intention to deceive. Plagiarism is simply
the act of using others' work without acknowledgement, for whatever reasons. The onus is on you to
document all of your sources and borrowings, exhaustively and scrupulously. You should see the
School Style Guide for details of how to do this.
What happens when work is identified as plagiarised
Cases of plagiarism will be reported to the Head of School. Penalties include a loss of marks. If there
is a demonstrable intention to deceive involved in the plagiarism, you may be charged with
misconduct under the University of Queensland Statute No. 4 (Student Discipline and Misconduct)
1999. The procedures for dealing with student discipline and misconduct matters are dealt with in
policy 3.60.1 of the Handbook of University Policies and
Extensions will need to be sought in advance of the due date of the piece of work concerned and will
be granted only for substantial reasons (usually medical ones). Pieces submitted late (either after the
due date without extension, or after the date of the extension given) will only be accepted at the
discretion of the tutor marking the piece and will be subject to penalty.
Class participation is compulsory. You cannot pass the course if you do not attend lectures and
tutorials. If you miss a number of classes because of illness or other reasons, please inform your tutor
of the situation or you might not be able to pass the course. A minimum of six tutorials must be
attended to receive any of the available marks for participation. All pieces of assessment must be
undertaken and submitted in order to pass MSTU2009.
The School Ombudsman is Dr Rob Pensalfini (Rm 535, phone 33652245). The function of the
ombudsman is to help with problems and possible grievances. Students should consult their tutors in
the first instance and, if necessary, also the convenor, but in unresolved conflict or in any matter
affecting the course may make an appointment to see the ombudsman. They should check his notice
board for times when he is available to see students.
Postgraduate Students: Students taking this course as part of a postgraduate qualification will be
required to submit two pieces of written work totalling 6,000 words as well as attending and
participating on the same terms as undergraduate students. The word limit for the first essay is 2,000
words. The word limit for the final research essay is 4,000 words. Topics, criteria and due dates for
the essays will be negotiated with such students.
READING LIST Part 1 2005:2
General References Primarily to Print Science Fiction
Baccolini, Rafaella and Tom Moylan eds. Dark Horizons: Science Fiction and the
Dystopian Imagination New York: Routledge, 2003.
Barr, Marleen S. ed. Envisioning the Future: Science Fiction and the Next Millennium
Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 2003.
Barr, Marleen S.ed. Future Females, the Next Generation: New Voices and Velocities
in Feminist Science Fiction Criticism Lanham, Md. : Rowman & Littlefield, 2000.
Broderick, Damien Reading By Starlight: Postmodern Science Fiction Routledge
Bukatman, Scott Terminal Identity : The Virtual Subject in Postmodern Science
Fiction Durham : Duke University press, 1993.
Clute, John and Peter Nicholls eds The Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction London
James, Edward Science Fiction in the 20th Century Oxford University Press 1994
Moylan, Tom Demand the Impossible Methuen 1986
Parrinder, Patrick Science Fiction: Its Criticism and Teaching London Methuen 1980
Sayer, Karen and John Moore eds. Science Fiction, Critical Frontiers New York : St.
Martin's Press, 2000.
Suvin, Darko Metamorphoses of Science Fiction, Yale University Press, 1979.
Westfahl, Gary and George Slusser eds. Science Fiction, Canonization,
Marginalization, and the Academy Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002.
Yaszek., Lisa. The Self Wired: Technology and Subjectivity in Contemporary
Narrative New York : Routledge, 2002.
1. The specialist journals Science Fiction Studies, Foundation and Extrapolation are all dominated by
articles on print sf, but do include some consideration of film and television.
2. Students should also check the books from which tutorial readings are taken.
MSTU2009 SCIENCE FICTION FILM & TELEVISION
Armitt, Lucie ed. Where No Man has Gone Before: Women and Science Fiction.
London & New York: Routledge, 1991
Badmington, Neil. Alien Chic: Posthumanism and the Other Within. London & New
York: Routledge, 2004.
Barker, Martin and Kate Brooks Awkward Audiences of Judge Dredd. Luton,
Bedfordshire : University of Luton Press, 1998.
Barnett, P. Chad “Reviving Cyberpunk: (Re)Constructing the Subject and Mapping
Cyberspace in the Wachowski Brothers' Film The Matrix” Extrapolation. 41.4: (2000):
Barrett, Michele and Duncan Barrett Star Trek The Human Frontier. Cambridge:
Bernardi, Daniel Leonard. Star Trek and History : Race-ing toward a White Future.
New Brunswick, NJ : Rutgers University Press, 1998. on High Use
Bignell, Jonathan and Andrew O'Day Terry Nation Manchester & New York :
Manchester University Press ; New York, 2004
Brooker, Will. Using the Force: Creativity, Community, and Star Wars Fans. New
York: Continuum, 2002. on High Use
Bukatman, Scott “Zooming Out: The End of Offscreen Space”, in The New American
Cinema, Ed. Jon Lewis. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1998. 248-271.
Gregory, Chris Star Trek: Parallel Narratives Basingstoke : Macmillan, 2000.
Gwenllian-Jones, Sara and Roberta E. Pearson. eds. Cult Television. Minneapolis:
University of Minnesota Press, 2004.
Harrison, Taylor et al eds Enterprise Zones: Critical Positions on Star Trek. Boulder,
Colo. : Westview Press, 1996.
Helford, Elyce Rae. ed. Fantasy Girls: Gender in the New Universe of Science Fiction
& Fantasy Television. Lanham, Md.: Rowan & Littlefield, 2000
Heller, Lee E. “The Persistence of Difference: Postfeminism, Popular Discourse, and
Heterosexuality in Star Trek: The Next Generation” Science Fiction Studies. 24.2
Highmore, Ben. Cityscapes: Cultural Readings in the Material and Symbolic City.
Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.
Hills, Matt Fan Cultures London & New York: Routledge, 2002 on High Use
Jenkins, Henry. Textual Poachers: Television Fans & Participatory Culture. New
York: Routledge, 1992 on High Use
Johnson, Catherine Telefantasy London: BFI Publishing, 2005 [on order, then High
Johnson-Smith, Jan. American Science Fiction TV : Star Trek, Stargate and Beyond.
Middleton, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 2005. on High Use
Kapell, Matthew & William G. Doty. eds Jacking in to the Matrix Franchise: Cultural
Reception and Interpretation New York & London: Continuum, 2004
King, Geoff. Spectacular Narratives : Hollywood in the Age of the Blockbuster.
London ; New York : I.B. Tauris Publishers, 2000. On High Use
King, Geoff & Tanya Krzywinska. Science Fiction Cinema: From Outerspace to
Cyberspace. London: Wallflower, 2000 on High Use
Kitchin, Rob & James Kneale eds Lost in Space: Geographies of Science Fiction
London: Continuum, 2002
Kuhn, Annette. ed. Alien Zone: Cultural Theory and Contemporary Science Fiction
Cinema London; New York : Verso, 1990.
Kuhn, Annette. ed. Alien Zone II: The Spaces of Science Fiction Cinema. London ;
New York : Verso, 1999.
Lavery, David, Angela Hague and Maria Cartwright. eds. Deny All Knowledge:
Reading the X-files London : Faber & Faber, 1996.
Penley, Constance NASA/Trek: Popular Science and Sex in America
London ; New York : Verso, 1997.
Penley, Constance et al eds Close Encounters: Film, Feminism, and Science Fiction
Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, 1991.
Redmond, Sean. ed. Liquid Metal: The Science Fiction Film Reader. New York &
London: Routledge, 2004 on High Use
Roberts, Robin Sexual Generations: Star Trek, The Next Generation and Gender
University of Illinois Press, 1999
Rushing, Janice Hocker & Thomas S. Frentz Projecting the Shadow: The Cyborg
Hero in American Film. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995.
Sardar, Ziauddin & Sean Cubitt. Aliens R Us: The Other in Science Fiction Cinema
London: Pluto, 2002
Sekuler, Robert and Randolph Blake. Star Trek on the Brain: Alien Minds, Human
Minds New York : W.H. Freeman, 1998.
Sobchack, Vivian Screening Space: The American Science Fiction Film New York :
Ungar, 1987. (Nb this is the second edition of her Limits of Infinity: The American
Science Fiction Film 1950-1975 with an extra chapter extending the period examined
to 1985) on High Use
Swope, Richard “Science fiction cinema and the crime of social-spatial reality”
Science Fiction Studies 29.2 #87 July 2002 221-246
Telotte, J.P. Replications: A Robotic History of the Science Fiction Film Urbana, Ill.:
University of Illonois Press, 1995.
Telotte, J P Science Fiction Film Cambridge UP 2001 on High Use
Tulloch, John & Henry Jenkins Science Fiction Audiences: Watching Dr Who and
Star Trek London and New York: Routledge, 1995 on High Use
Wachhorst, Wyn “Time-travel romance on film: archetypes and structures”
Extrapolation 25.4 Winter 1984. p. 340-59
Westfahl, Gary ed. Space and Beyond: The Frontier Theme in Science Fiction
Westport conn.: Greenwood Press, 2000 on High Use
Wood, Aylish Technoscience in Contemporary American Film: Beyond Science
Fiction Manchester University Press, 2002