11/8/18 Class Notes


  • Please see Professor Belli if you have not done so to discuss your mid semester grades. It is absolutely important for those who got a borderline (BL) or unsatisfactory (U) grade.
    • For those who don’t remember how to check it, visit the OpenLab ENG 2420 course site, scroll down under the Categories drop down menu, where it will say Course Gradebook and a line underneath that “Students, check your grades here!” Click on ENG 2420 which will show you your mid semester grade. The other grades (Midterm and Essay 1 will be posted here later)
  • Next week we’ll be discussing the first episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale and Westworld, to discuss the equality and political-social issues. Tuesday for The Handmaid’s Tale, Thursday for Westworld.  We’ll also spend more time discussing the theme of Gender in science fiction so continue reading “The Image of Women in Science Fiction” and “Science Fiction’s Women Problem”.  We’ll be spending a few minutes on wrapping up “The Image of Women in Science Fiction” and more of time analyzing “Science Fiction’s Women Problem”.
  • Based on the comments from “World-Building in Political Elections”, we need to state the link or source explicitly (Links appear as images on this site, explain underneath the image what it is and where it’s from).  This goes for future assignments as well, when uploading or using a source, don’t just place the source anywhere. Help readers understand why it’s there. Keep this in mind for our final research project which will be coming soon.  Learn to find sources but keep track of the ideas. As you research, these ideas may change.
  • In the future, we will return to the theme of Artificial Intelligence.


Next week we’ll have two reading response blogs due. Check the schedule to see the assignments.

  • For our next class on Tuesday, November 13, you must watch the episode “June” from the Hulu series, The Handmaid’s Tale. A reading response blog will be due by the start of class. Treat the assignment similarly to how we did with Metropolis (evidence with proper citations and bring in annotations for Tuesday).
  • Next Thursday, November 15, will be focused on the HBO series, Westworld.

“Utopia as Method: The Imaginary Reconstitution of Society”

Quote we analyzed last Tuesday, November 6 was from “Utopia as Method: The Imaginary Reconstitution of Society” by Ruth Levitas,

“Utopia also entails refusal, the refusal to accept that what is given is enough.  It embodies the refusal to accept that living beyond the present is delusional, the refusal to take at face value current judgements of the good or claims that there is no alternative.”

11/6/18 Recap

  • From the freewriting responses, everyone had different thoughts and opinions on what this quote meant as well as a different definition of utopia
  • Misrepresentation of Utopia, Although commonly thought as better, every individual has their own idea of a utopia.


  • What is your impression of labeling someone else’s utopia as impractical?
    • Stops people from dreaming, believing, being motivated
    • Prevents free thinking and progression
    • No individuality
    • Shuts things down, narrows people’s views, lowers expectations, constrains what we can achieve or desire.
  • People view Utopia as better but it’s also a way of showing refusal of the current state of our society
  • “Living beyond the present is delusional” – condescending, something that is frequent in gender equality
  • “The refusal to take at face value current judgements of the good” – believing in a utopia indicates that a person can’t accept the way things currently are.
  • “There is no alternative.” – quote used frequently by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
  • Can be seen in politics, gender relations, race relations

“World Building In Politics”

  • Given our current political climate, what are defining features of the current administration?/What characterizes them?
    • Fear and Discrimination – an example would be the caravan from Mexico that is making its way to Mexico City
    • Misinformation
  • What vision/world does that build for us?
    • Lead people to ignorance. What is truth? Hard to tolerate other people’s ideas
  • “Nineteen Eighty-Four” by George Orwell became re-popularized by President Trump because of it was reminiscent the world.
    • Famous quote “two plus two equals five” – the State constructs different versions of reality to make people believe a certain thing.
    • Doublethink, Newspeak – Thought control
    • Trump’s behavior encourages lack of respect or truth.
  • Online Discussion
    • Republicans and Democrats have differing views. What happens if the Democrats take back the House?
    • Letitia James, first African American woman to to be elected as attorney general has made many breakthroughs. Science Fiction and politics both are fields where women are heavily underrepresented.
  • People who openly ran for progressive/diverse ideas still lost.  This is because the moment needs to be right before enacting something.  Speculative fiction pushes what might be possible and what is currently possible.

Gender and “The Image of Women in Science Fiction”

  • “The Image of Women in Science Fiction” is part of the Vertex magazine and was published 44 years ago around the height of feminism and the science fiction genre.  Even today it’s still relevant.
  • Science fiction has a lot of portrayal of women yet very little women involved in the field.
  • “Science fiction is What if literature… offend against what is known to be known.” (Page 54, First Column)
    • It tries to speak against the mainstream.
    • Quote considers the way things are, the way things might/could be, and the way things should/ought to be.  The way things should be is like an ethical desire.
    • The What If is speculative and considers all sorts of possibilities (even borderline fantasy ones) whereas The Serious Explanation is essentially staying grounded to reality and considering the more likely possibilities.
    • “Utopia concerns what is not (yet).  It is intrinsically evaluative, concerned with what ought to be and the process of conforming the world to that standard.” (Levitas) – A utopia means to desire otherwise.  It indicates that you want the world to look like something else.
  • “One would think science fiction the perfect literary mode… does not exist at all” (Page 54, Second Column)
    • Women are subject to extrapolation for science fiction works.
    • Although science fiction is a speculative genre, there is no assumptions of speculation about the gender roles to be found in science fiction because the differences are clear in real life.
    • Alternative roles for women aren’t even being imagined.  Science fiction should accommodate different ideas but it hasn’t been when it comes to gender roles.
  • “It has been easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism” (Frederic Jameson)
    • The idea that humans would destroy themselves is more believable than changing the fundamental structure.
  • Column 3 quotes
    • “This is not the case… into is future Galactic Empires.” – Instead of the difference between women and men being changing with time, science fiction authors just took the current standards and made it like these inequalities would exist in the future.
    • “In general, the authors who write reasonable… and that world is never questioned” – Even famous authors don’t try to challenge the gender role ideas.  These gender roles reproduce common assumptions.
    • “In short, the American middle class with a little window dressing.” – science fiction works create superficial presentations of gender inequality.
    • “In science fiction, speculation about social institutions… technology is easier to understand than people.” – A lot of science fiction authors can imagine technology that can adapt to the point of taking over the world but the idea of women having equal rights is unheard of to them.  They can’t imagine people in different roles.

Vocabulary and Terms

  • Cherry Picking (verb) – A selective form of researching.  Act of picking certain things but obscuring others.
  • Delusional (adjective) – crazy, mistaken, believing something to be true even though it’s not.
  • DoubleThink (noun) – “Nineteen Eighty-Four” term for believing two contradictory things at the same time
  • Innate (adjective) – inherent, natural
  • Intrinsically (adjective) – in a natural way
  • Newspeak (noun) – “Nineteen Eighty-Four” term for the official language of oceania.  Heavily controlled by restricting certain words.
  • Status Quo (noun) – the current situation or way things are (can relate to social and political issues as well)


If you see any mistakes or missing information feel free to call me out on it in the comments.

One thought on “11/8/18 Class Notes

  1. Jill Belli

    Tyler, thanks for these really helpful class notes! Quick correction: we’ll spend just a few minutes finishing our discussion of “The Image of Women in Science Fiction” on Tuesday (since we already spent time on that last week), but we will spend a chunk of time also on “Science Fiction’s Women Problem” as well, since we didn’t

    Also, you forgot to categorize though: can you edit and put them in “Class Notes,” so they are easy to locate going forward? Thanks!


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