On Monday, May 8, Prof. Jason Ellis brought his ENG3790 Information Architecture students in the Professional and Technical Writing Program to the City Tech Science Fiction Collection to learn about how IA principles were employed to quickly make it accessible using DIY strategies. Also, the students gathered metadata from recently donated and shelved material for the collection’s finding aid. Many thanks to the students who were able to contribute to this invaluable City Tech research and teaching resource: Khaled Akam, Tiana Beatty, Kahini Chauhan, Jaida Clouden, Sphear Forde, Sandy Fougeres, Ronald Hinds, Khemraj Persaud, and Nikka Rosenstein.
On Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, Professor and Collections Management Librarian Wanett Clyde and English Department Professor Jason Ellis moved donated materials acquired during the first phase of the pandemic into the City Tech Science Fiction Collection’s space in the Archives and Special Collections of the Ursula C. Schwerin Library.
During the pandemic, we received a lot of new material for the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, including magazines, novels, collections, academic journals, and monographs. These materials were donated by Charlie Seelig (~20 boxes of EVERYTHING), Analog Science Fiction and Fact (~4 boxes of magazines from their old office space), City Tech Professor Lucas Bernard (2 boxes of material that belonged to his father Kenneth Bernard, the experimental playwright and English professor), and Emeritus Professor of English at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and former president of the Science Fiction Research Association David Mead (1 box of Jack Vance materials), The Special Collections and Archives in the City Tech Library unfortunately were unable to open enough shelf space for these materials, so Wanett and Jason stored everything in their offices–with most of it being in Jason’s office (see below).
This semester, however, Wanett was able to work with library staff to open up additional shelf space in the archives for the donated materials (in the photo below, the background stacks are the City Tech Science Fiction Collection).
On Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, Jason coordinated with Wanett to begin moving the materials one cart load at a time into the archives.
It took about two-and-a-half-hours to move 22 boxes of material into the archives. The first few cart loads were successful–an elevator ride from the fifth floor of Namm to the fourth floor, and then walk to the fourth floor of the Library Building to take the service elevator up to the fifth floor of the Library Building and a short walk to the archives room. Unfortunately, the service elevator died before the last load was delivered, so Jason toted those 40 pound boxes one at a time on the last leg of the journey. Now, all of the material has been relocated to the archives room.
The next phase of integrating the materials will involve unboxing and shelving like materials on the available shelf space, which will be followed by a photographic inventory of each shelf and inventorying the items into the finding aid, which as we know from past experience, will take the most time and energy. However, Jason has plans to bring his Professional and Technical Writing students in his Spring 2023 Information Architecture class to the archives to perform some of the inventorying work as part of a discussion of database construction, categorization, and metadata.
On Tuesday, Mar. 3, 2020, Prof. Jason Ellis gave a guest lecture in the Modern Physics (PHYS 2443ID) class. You can watch it above. The topic is science fiction in which physics is important and fundamental to the story. In relation to this, he will discuss:
- definitions of science fiction and hard science fiction
- implications of science and technology on individuals and society
In preparation for the class, here are some readings and other resources that will be referenced in the discussion:
- Andrew Fraknoi’s “Science Fiction Stories with Good Astronomy & Physics: A Topical Index”
- Tom Godwin’s “The Cold Equations”
- Joe Haldeman’s “You Can Never Go Back” [a story cut from the published version of The Forever War]
- Kim Stanley Robinson’s “A Sensitive Dependence on Initial Conditions” and “The Lucky Strike”
- Isaac Asimiov’s “Nightfall”
- Samuel R. Delany’s “Aye, and Gomorrah”
- Cleve Cartmill’s “Deadline”
- Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency
- Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar
- Startalk Radio, May 30, 2019, Topic: Science Fiction and Society [Host: Neil deGrasse Tyson, Co-Host: Chuck Nice, Guests: Gale Anne Hurd, Jason Ellis, and Janine Krippner]
Science Fiction Students are Interested In
Cosmos: A Spacetime Ody
The Three Body Problem
Rick and Morty
Today, Prof. Lucas Kwong brought his ENG2420 Science Fiction students to visit the City Tech Science Fiction Collection as a part of their final paper research. The goal of the visit was to introduce students to SF magazine culture by inviting students to see, hold, and browse a selection of different kinds of magazines held in the collection.
Consulting with Prof. Kwong before the class, Prof. Jason Ellis pulled a selection of magazines that students could read in the Archives classroom:
Analog Science Fiction and Fact (with fan letters)
July 1995 (check out this editorial)
Amazing Stories (with fan letters)
Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (no fan letters)
Vertex (no fan letters)
Jun 1973 (article on water and ecological catastrophe)
Feb 1974 (Joanna Russ’ famous “Image of Women in Science Fiction” essay)
Apr 1974 (interview with Harlan Ellison–I can tell the class about Ellison’s history in Red Hook)
June 1974 (Poul Anderson’s reply to Joanna Russ’ essay)
Oct 1974 (Philip K. Dick’s reply to to Joanna Russ)
Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine (Brooklyn’s own, with fan letters)
July 1982 (William Gibson’s “Burning Chrome”–introduction of the word cyberspace to English lexicon)
After meeting the students outside the library, Profs. Kwong and Ellis led the students to the fifth floor of the library and the Archives classroom where they met with Prof. Keith Muchowski, who arranged for the Archives class visit. Prof. Ellis delivered a brief oral history of the collection and talked about SF magazines in general (presentation file embedded above). Then, Prof. Kwong asked his students to study and discover interesting things in the magazines that we handed out. After making the rounds of each group of students, Prof. Kwong asked students to mingle around and see how their first magazines are similar to and different than the other magazines. While students were looking at these magazines, some asked Prof. Ellis for specific issues and books in the collection, which he brought out for them to see for their research.
This is one model for students visiting the City Tech SF Collection. If you’d like to bring your class to the archives, please reach out to Prof. Keith Muchowski (kmuchowski at citytech.cuny.edu). If you’d like help planning the visit or would like me to talk about the collection to students, feel free to email me (jellis at citytech.cuny.edu).
On Thursday, December 1, 2016, Prof. Jill Belli held an ENG 2420, Science Fiction class session in the Atrium 543 Archives Classroom for a special introduction of the City Tech Science Fiction Collection to her students. Prof. Keith Muchowski coordinated with Prof. Belli to arrange the visit. Prof. Belli’s class is the first to officially visit and use the City Tech Science Fiction Collection as part of a class discussion. Prof. Jason W. Ellis pulled materials from the collection based on student interests for students to use during an in-class exercise, gave an oral history presentation on how the collection came to be at City Tech, and gave several mini-tours of the collection to groups of four students at a time (this permits students to browse the collection without overcrowding in the archive and makes it easy for the tour guide to respond to questions and talk with the students). One of Prof. Belli’s students exclaimed, “This is a MAGAZINE??!!” Students were able to hold, read, and discuss the magazines with one another. Prof. Belli and Prof. Ellis responded to their questions about the different magazines in the collection, issues with publication and preservation, the magazines’ contents (stories, editorials, letters, advertisements), and the magazines’ smells. When class was over, no one seemed to want to leave!
Prof. Jill Belli visited the City Tech Science Fiction Collection with Prof. Jason Ellis on Monday, August 22, 2016. Prof. Belli is teaching ENG 2420, Science Fiction this coming semester, Fall 2016. She is planning how to incorporate the collection and access to its materials into her Science Fiction class.