mabfan (Michael A. Burstein) (mabfan) wrote,
mabfan (Michael A. Burstein)

The Anthropology of Science Fiction

Last year, a bunch of Harvard graduate students asked me to run a science fiction workshop for them and for members of an Anthropology course on science fiction. This year, the professor who teaches that course, Paulette Curtis, asked me to do the workshop again, and I'll be running it for them next Tuesday evening.

When I heard about Paulette's course, called "Humans, Aliens & Future Home Worlds: An Anthropologist Looks at Science Fiction," I was fascinated by it, but sadly, I had no time to sit in on the class. This year, however, I asked Paulette if I could visit her class today, and she said yes.

It felt like old home week, even though the class was held in the Psychology building, which I rarely visited as an undergraduate. (Also, although Paulette was the year behind me in college, we never knew each other.) She lectured on Star Wars and science fiction fandom, and a lot of it was delightfully familiar. She had some excellent theories on why Star Wars is universally appealing, and then she spoke on fandom as a subculture. It's amusing to think of myself as being part of a subculture worthy of anthropological study, but Paulette makes an excellent argument for it.

(It's also amusing to look at one of the textbooks, SCIENCE FICTION CULTURE by Camille Bacon-Smith, and to see that she interviewed people I know, like Jalibait, who is somewhere else on LiveJournal if I remember correctly.)

A description of the course can be found at, and the syllabus for the course from a few years ago can be found at if anyone's interested.

(Of course, the real reason for this post is to shout out to mystful, who will be in the workshop and who I got to meet for the first time in real life today.)
Tags: harvard, science-fiction

  • Post a new comment


    Comments allowed for friends only

    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded