*Click here to download the syllabus as a PDF file.

English 2420: Science Fiction
New York City College of Technology, CUNY
Spring 2015, Th 2:30-5:00pm
Classroom: Namm 1023B

Professor: Dr. Jill Belli / (718) 260-4974
Office: Namm 520 / Mailbox: Namm 512
Office hours: Th 5:00-6:00pm & by appointment

OpenLab Course Site:

Course Description (3 hours, 3 credits; Prerequisites: ENG 1101)
English 2420 combines analysis of science fiction as literature with consideration of the questions science and technology raise about past, present, and future societies. In class discussions and essays, students will focus on the basic elements of literary analysis, the historical development of the science fiction genre, and the thematic concerns of each assigned text. Class discussions will address issues of form and will delve into the cultural contexts that have helped shaped some of the core tropes of the genre, such as artificial intelligence and human/machine interactions, the exploration of space and time, and the possibility of extraterrestrial life. Attention will also be paid to the ways in which authors have used utopian and dystopian societies of the future to comment upon humanity’s present relationship with science and technology.

*Writing-Intensive Course; Fulfills “Individual and Society” Category for Pathways

General Education Student Learning Outcomes

  • Use the arts, sciences and humanities as a forum for the study of values, ethical principles, and the physical world.
  • Engage in an in-depth, focused, and sustained program of study
  • Communicate in diverse settings and groups, using written (both reading and writing), oral (both speaking and listening), and visual means, and in more than one language.
  • Derive meaning from experience, as well as gather information from observation.
  • Gather, interpret, evaluate, and apply information discerningly from a variety of sources.
  • Understand and navigate systems
  • Make meaningful and multiple connections among the liberal arts and between the liberal arts and the areas of study leading to a major or profession.
  • Transform information into knowledge, and knowledge into judgment and action.
  • Apply knowledge and analyze social, political, economic, and historical issues.
  • Demonstrate expanded cultural and global awareness and sensitivity.
  • Discern multiple perspectives.
  • Show curiosity and the desire to learn.
  • Acquire tools for lifelong learning—how to learn, how they learn, knowledge of resources.
  • Demonstrate Intellectual honesty and personal responsibility.
  • Discern consequences of decisions and actions
  • Demonstrate intellectual agility and the ability to manage change.
  • Work with teams, including those of diverse composition. Build consensus.
  • Respect and use creativity.

Required Texts

*Available at City Tech Bookstore

Dick, Philip K. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? New York: Del Rey, 1968. [ISBN-10: 0345404475; ISBN-13: 978-0345404473], $15

Piercy, Marge. Woman on the Edge of Time. Fawcett: New York, 1976. [ISBN-10: 0449210820; ISBN-13: 978-0449210826] $7.99

Seed, David. Science Fiction: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: NY, 2011. [ISBN-10: 0199557454, ISBN-13: 978-0199557455], $11.95

**Various films (and other media), to be viewed outside of class. Some of these are available freely online, and others you will need to purchase, borrow, rent, or watch as part of a subscription service (such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Instant Video). Please factor these costs into your budget for our course materials.

***All other texts will be provided in-class or on our course site (including readings on writing process/strategies to accompany our frequent in-class writing workshops). It is your responsibility to print out these texts and bring them to class with you. You may print up to 30 pages per day in the City Tech computer labs, but if you do not have a printer at home, you may want to invest in one (remember: you have no costs for texts for this class, and a laser printer is a good, long-term investment for your college career).

****You will be required to attend local, relevant events and exhibitions for this course, so please factor transportation/admission (some events are free) into your budget for our course materials.

Your final course grade is calculated according to the following breakdown:

Participation: 15%       OpenLab compositions: 35%          Midterm Exam: 10%

Project #1: 15%            Project #2: 25%

Participation counts as 15% of your final course grade and includes:

  • consistent and punctual attendance
  • timely completion and thoughtful engagement with of all reading (reading blog posts, comments, and materials posted on OpenLab is part of course reading/viewing)
  • having the assigned text(s) in class with you on the dates they are to be discussed (printed, if they are online texts)
  • active participation in-class
  • taking class notes (at least once during the semester) & posting them on OpenLab
  • miscellaneous homework assignments
  • announced & unannounced in-class quizzes and writing exercises based on prompts, activities, and readings
  • presentations
  • collaborative group work
  • pre-drafts
  • peer review
  • conferences with the instructor outside of class (in my office hours)
  • additional work (and tutoring) at the Learning Center, as necessary
  • respectful attitude toward your instructor, peers, and coursework
  • improvement throughout the semester

OpenLab Composing counts as 35% of your final course grade.
Our OpenLab site is where you can find everything you need this semester (all announcements, updates to the schedule, posted readings, reading responses, and online discussions will take place here). However, this is not just a place where you will come to find information and read what I have already written. Instead, you are expected to consistently and actively participate in creating content on our Course Site such as posting responses to the readings/films, discussing ideas with me and your classmates, reading and commenting on what others have posted, and linking to interesting/relevant material you have found through everyday experience as well as outside research. This material (your writing) will become part of our class meetings: we will discuss excerpts from student posts (both to facilitate writing workshops and to use as a jumping-off point for the day’s reading/discussion). In addition, everyone in the course will be reading your writing (and our course blog and all of its content is become public to the larger college community and anyone on the Internet), so you should spend time and take pride in composing your posts and comments there. Please see our Course Site for a blogging grading rubric and detailed blogging guidelines/expectations (under Assignments, OpenLab Composing).

Your OpenLab grade includes:

  • blogging (creating your own posts)
  • reading/commenting on each other’s blog posts
  • active participation and in our class digital discussions

Course Policies

  • You are responsible for having a working, accessible City Tech e-mail and for checking this account daily (all announcements, notifications, and messages from me will go to your City Tech address).
  • If you don’t already have one, you must sign up for an OpenLab account and join our ENG 2420 Course, and checking our Course Site regularly.
  • Consistent absence/lateness will lower your participation grade significantly (and potentially result in failure of the course). If you must miss a class, it is your responsibility to contact a classmate and to find out/complete missed assignments &/or to see me during my office hours; however, in-class work (including quizzes, freewriting, discussions, peer review, and in-class essays and exams) cannot be made-up.
  • All assignments are due on the dates/times specified. Late assignments will not be accepted.
  • You should always come to class prepared with a notebook, folder, binder, dictionary (it can be one on your phone, tablet, or laptop), and writing utensils (pens, pencils, and highlighters). All course materials (including in-class freewriting, quizzes, handouts, readings, essays, peer review, exams) must be kept in a binder, and brought to each class session.
  • Disagreement and (constructive) criticism are encouraged in our class and on our OpenLab course site. However, you must always be respectful of the work/opinions of others, and conduct yourselves (in person and online) in a mature, respectful, and generous way.
  • A consistent display of organizational, logical, syntactical, and grammatical errors in your work disrupts your writing and will lower your grade. Students are encouraged (and may be required) to take advantage of online resources (linked through our course blog) and available services at City Tech.
  • I strongly encourage you to visit me during my office hours throughout the semester to discuss your work in the course. If you ever would like more individualized feedback on your work in the course (including blog posts, freewriting, quizzes, exams, projects, or texts), you should come see me to discuss your work.


Attendance and Lateness Policy
According to College attendance policy, a student may be absent during the semester without penalty for 10% of the class instructional sessions (for our once-per-week course, this policy translates to two absences).

In my class, frequently coming to class late will significantly lower your grade, and consistent lateness will add up to absences. If you are frequently absent &/or late, you may not pass the course.


New York City College of Technology Policy on Academic Integrity
Students and all others who work with information, ideas, texts, images, music, inventions and other intellectual property owe their audience and sources accuracy and honesty in using, crediting, and citing sources. As a community of intellectual and professional workers, the College recognizes its responsibility for providing instruction in information literacy and academic integrity, offering models of good practice, and responding vigilantly and appropriately to infractions of academic integrity. Accordingly, academic dishonesty is prohibited in The City University of New York and at New York City College of Technology and is punishable by penalties, including failing grades, suspension, and expulsion. The complete text of the College policy on Academic Integrity may be found in the catalog.


  • All reading and writing assignments are due on the days listed.
  • Except for some films, all texts not available through the College Bookstore will be provided in-class or on our OpenLab course site (including readings on writing process/strategies to accompany our in-class writing workshops and help you with your assignments). It is your responsibility to print out these texts and bring them to class with you (you can print for free at the college’s computer labs). It is mandatory to have the assigned texts printed and in class when we are discussing them. If you don’t, you will be considered absent for the day.
  • Additional texts/assignments may be added throughout the semester to supplement the texts listed here.
  • Some weeks require a heavy amount of reading and/or writing, so I encourage you to plan ahead.
  • Always consult the dynamic schedule on our OpenLab site for the most up-to-date version of the schedule, access to readings, and more detail about assignments.