SF Graduate Program

Graduate Programs in Science Fiction

This list contains several universities known to have graduate programs that specialize in science fiction studies. If you know of a school that has such a program and want to add it to our list, send the program's web address and a short (two or three paragraph) description of the program to the AboutSF Coordinator at info@aboutsf.com.

The University of Kansas

Website: http://www.ku.edu/~english/

The University of Kansas offers courses in science fiction and fantasy, and degrees at the bachelor's, master's, and master of fine arts levels in creative writing. The University has been one of the leaders in science-fiction education, offering the first intensive course in the literature, an annual conference focused on a single theme, innovative courses in the literature, and workshops in the writing of SF. The Lawrence campus has frequent SF visiting writers and scholars, including in recent years, Frederic Jameson, Greg Bear, Gregory Benford, Frederik Pohl, Pamela Sargent, Joan Slonczewski, and George Zebrowski.

James Gunn, who has served as president of both SFRA and SFWA, is retired but still teaches a two-week non-credit Writers Workshop in Science Fiction and the two-week Intensive English Institute on the Teaching of Science Fiction, both in the summer, and an occasional team-taught course during the school year. The University provides the home for the J. Wayne and Elsie M. Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction, which serves as the focus for many of its SF programs, including the John W. Campbell Conference, the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for the Best Science Fiction Novel of the Year, and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for the Best Short Science Fiction of the Year. Details about these and other matters relating to SF at KU can be found on the Center's website, http://www.ku.edu/~sfcenter/. Gunn is the Center's director and chairs the Campbell and Sturgeon committees; Christopher McKitterick is the associate director. The AboutSF site also is based at K.U. Informal writers workshops are available; a number of writers are students or local residents. The University Libraries contain 20,000 volumes of SF books and magazines in Special Collections (books published after 1950 are available for distribution); manuscript collections include the SF materials of "Cordwainer Smith" and Brian W. Aldiss's files for the Helliconia trilogy and Trillion Year Spree.

The English Department at KU offers a B.A. degree with an emphasis on creative writing, a creative-writing M.A., a master of fine arts degree in creative writing, and the Ph.D., with a creative dissertation option. The Department does not discriminate against genre writing. Program descriptions and admission procedures are available at http://www.ku.edu/~english/.

The University of California, Riverside - Ph.D. in Comparative Literature (Science Fiction, Science and Literature)

Program contacts:

Academic Queries: Dr. Lisa Raphals (lisa.raphals@ucr.edu)

Administrative Queries: Bonnie Anketell (bonnie.anketell@ucr.edu)

Website: http://www.complitforlang.ucr.edu/graduate/program_description.html

The Department of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Riverside currently offers a track specialization within their "Comparative and World Literature" Ph.D. program entitled "Science Fiction, Science and Liteature." Originally designed by Professors George Slusser and Lisa Raphals, the track (according to the description in UCR's general catalog) "draws on the speculative richness of science fiction literature in a wide variety of social contexts, including the role of science in society…, race and ethnicity, and social ethics." The track is composed of a five-course sequence, of which students pursuing the track must take at least three on top of their other Ph.D. requirements: CPLT 272: The Origins and Promise of Science Fiction, a historical survey of the genre; CPLT 273: Genre and Method in Science Fiction Studies, an introduction to important critical perspectives; CPLT 274: Representation of Science in Literature, which focuses on "the interrelations between scientific activity and literary and cultural expression"; CPLT 275: Science Fiction Authors, which examines the work of one or two selected major writers; and CPLT 276: Science Meets the Fiction, which looks at the ways SF has responded to changing paradigms in the sciences and new technological developments. A series of courses in SF and technoculture are currently being developed within the English Department's Ph.D. Program that can be cross-listed with this track, which is conceived to be "inherently cross-disciplinary, both within the humanities, and between the humanities and sciences."

Science Fiction studies is an integral and growing area of World Literature. Although much of it is translated into English, and thus (inappropriately) perceived as part of English and American literature, major authors of literary works in modern science fiction and its antecedents wrote in a wide range of languages and literary and cultural contexts, including Chinese (Lao She, Lu Xun), French (Jules Verne, as well as Balzac and Proust), German (Goethe), Japanese (Kobo Abe), Polish (Stanislaw Lem), Russian (Zamyatin, the Strugatsky brothers), and Spanish (Borges). Science fiction has also been translated into a wide range of languages, and come to form part of the history of literature in diverse literary and cultural contexts, for example the influence of translations of Jules Verne into Malay. For these reasons, we consider science fiction, science and literary studies an important aspect of comparative literature.

Some of our program's best recent graduate students have come to UCR to do science fiction studies, coming here from Great Britain, Germany, Finland, and China. Almost half of our incoming graduate students (a record number of thirteen) have expressed an active interest in this new track, and for this reason it takes on some urgency.

Currently this initiative is under the leadership of Lisa Raphals, with participation from Stephanie Hammer, Mimi Long, Sabine Doran, and ongoing participation from two key emeritus faculty: George Slusser (the first curator and key developer of the Eaton collection) and Robert Heath in Biological Sciences. In addition, Melissa Conway, head of Special Collections, is actively and crucially involved.

University of Liverpool - M.A. in Science Fiction Studies

Programme length: 1 year full-time

Programme contact: Mr Andy Sawyer

Tel: +44 (0)151 794 2707

Fax: +44 (0)151 794 2730

E-mail: a.p.sawyer@liv.ac.uk

Website: http://www.liv.ac.uk/english/

Science Fiction is the international literature of "what if?" At its heart lies a speculative energy which explores change. It is an extensive and important body which has only recently begun to receive serious critical attention in Britain despite its continuing popularity. This programme provides a framework for the study of Science Fiction in its formal, stylistic and thematic characteristics: in other words, what science fiction does, how it does it, and why we read it. It aims to introduce students to the critical and theoretical issues raised by Science Fiction, such as the limits of the genre, its engagement with political ideology, its exploration of gender categories, and its speculations on the nature of time. The objective of the programme is not only to present a broad selection of literary texts from the field, but also to produce intellectual versatility in its graduates by encouraging them to approach the programme materials from a range of different theoretical viewpoints.

Modules include Genre Definitions, Utopias and Dystopias, Time and Consciousness (taught by the department of Philosophy), and a Special Author Study (currently Ursula K. Le Guin). Teaching will be in the form of weekly seminars for two semesters, followed by an individually supervised dissertation of about 15,000 words written during the remainder of the academic year, in which you can explore a topic which particularly interests you. In addition, students will be expected to attend seminars on research methods and encouraged to use the resources of the Science Fiction Foundation Collection, administered by the University Library both for their course work and for their dissertation.

Studying science fiction at Liverpool offers an enthusiastic yet rigorous approach to the widest of all literary fields. Staff at Liverpool are active in research and publication in the field and the library contains the finest collections of sf and materials about sf in Europe. In addition, the Science Fiction Hub, a web-based subject portal for science fiction scholars, has been established with funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and builds upon links already established with international scholarship and publishing in the fields of sf and fantasy.

University of Glamorgan, Centre for Astronomy & Science Education

Website: http://case.glam.ac.uk/CASE/Degrees/S&SF.html

Science fiction revolutionised the 20th century as the genre that dealt with scientific and technological progress and their relation to human society and ambition. It influenced our visions, dreams and deeds in all areas of science, society and culture.

This degree course looks at the evolutionary development of science and science fiction. You will study both the scientific and cultural developments that shape science fiction, and its developments that shape science and, more broadly, culture. Few areas of academic study are able to boast the broadness of education that a study of science and science fiction allows: medicine, biology, nanotechnology, social engineering, information science, history, space travel and terraforming, philosophy, alien communication, ecology and anthropology. You will study such exciting scientific fields of speculation through all forms of SF: print SF (novels and stories) and new multi-media and interactive forms (including film, television, video games, architecture, and product design)

You will also consider what science fiction has to say about the future. For example, many believe that the science of the new century is that of biology. Through science and science fiction together, we will study questions of reproduction, life extension and immortality, augmentation, and guided evolution, and how the stories of science fiction will be influenced by the dramatic changes in actual science.

Clearly, there is a need for graduates who possess both an understanding of science and the ability to communicate this understanding effectively to a range of different audiences. On this unique degree, you will gain an understanding of the nature and evolution of science, and its social, political and cultural context, through the study of complementary strands of science, science fiction and culture. Specific modules in science communication will provide you with an insight into contemporary issues and controversies, and develop a range of written and verbal communication skills. The course is delivered by the University's Centre for Astronomy and Science Education (CASE), recognised internationally for its high standard of innovative teaching and curriculum design. CASE has staff on the NASA Astrobiology Institute science communication advisory board, and links with the European Network of Science Communication Teachers and Microsoft's Science Fiction Museum in Seattle.





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