- Science fiction studies
"This article is about the field of science fiction studies. For the journal of the same title, please see
Science fiction studies is the common name for the
academic disciplinethat studies and researches the history, culture, and works of science fictionand, more broadly, speculative fiction.
History of the field as a discipline
The modern field of science fiction studies is closely related to popular culture studies, a subdiscipline of
cultural studies, and film and literature studies. Because of the ties with futurism and utopianworks, there is often overlap with these fields as well. The field also has spawned subfields, such as feminist science fictionstudies.
However, the field's roots go back much further, to the earliest commentators who studied representations of the sciences in the arts and literature, and explorations of utopian and social reform impulses in fantastic and visionary works of art and literature.
Modern science fiction criticism may have started with
Dorothy Scarborough, who in 1917 included a chapter on "Supernatural Science" in her doctoral dissertation, published as "The Supernatural in Modern English Fiction". [Dorothy Scarborough, "Supernatural Science," in "The Supernatural in Modern English Fiction". New York: Putnam, 1917, pp. 251-280. See also the Scarborough entry in "Horny Toads and Ugly Chickens: A Bibilography on Texas in Speculative Fiction," by Bill Page, Texas A&M Cushing Library, 2001.]
As the pulp era progressed, shifting science fiction ever further into popular culture, groups of writers, editors, publishers, and fans (often scientists, academics, and scholars of other fields) systematically organized publishing enterprises, conferences, and other insignia of an academic discipline. Much discussion about science fiction took place in the letter columns of early SF magazines and fanzines, and the first book of commentary on science fiction in the US was Clyde F. Beck's "Hammer and Tongs", a
chapbookof essays originally published in a fanzine. [Peter Nicholls, "Critical and Historical Works About SF," in Clute, John, Peter Nicholls, eds., " The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction" (St. Martin's Press, 1995) ISBN 0-312-13486-X.]
The 1940s saw the appearance of three full-scale scholarly works that treated science fiction and its literary ancestors: Philip Babcock Gove's "The Imaginary Voyage in Prose Fiction" (1941), J. O. Bailey's "Pilgrims Through Space and Time" (1948), and Marjorie Hope Nicholson's "Voyages to the Moon" (1949). [Nichols, "Critical and Historical Works About SF"; and "Chronological Bibliography of Science Fiction History, Theory, and Criticism" at http://www.depauw.edu/sfs/biblio.htm]
Peter Nicholls credits
Sam Moskowitzwith teaching "what was almost certainly the first sf course in the USA to be given through a college": a non-credit course in "Science Fiction Writing" at City College of New Yorkin 1953. The first regular, for-credit courses were taught by Mark Hillegas (at Colgate) and H. Bruce Franklin (at Stanford) in 1961. ["SF in the Classroom" in the Clute & Nicholls "Encyclopedia"] During the 1960s, more science fiction scholars began to move into the academy, founding academic journals devoted to the exploration of the literature and works of science fiction. [See, e.g., Science-Fiction Studies, founded 1973. See also bibliographies such as "The Year's Scholarship in Science Fiction and Fantasy", edited by Marshall B. Tymn, several volumes of which were published through the 1970s through Kent State University Press.] The explosion of film studiesand cultural studiesmore broadly granted the nascent discipline additional credibility, and throughout the 1970s and 1980s, mainstream scholars such as Susan Sontag[See, e.g., Susan Sontag, "The Imagination of Disaster," in "Against Interpretation" (New York: Farrar, 1966), pp. 209-225.] turned their critical attention to science fiction.
The 1990s saw the first academic programs and degree-granting programs established, [The
University of Liverpool, first.] and the field shows continued steady growth. [Additional academic programs and graduate programs added at other schools.Fact|date=October 2007]
University of Glamorgan(Wales), BSc (Hons) in Science and Science Fiction (program analyzes relationship between science and the arts) [Leander Kahney, " [http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,20703,00.html BS in Science Fiction, Literally] ", "Wired" (July 14, 1999).]
University of Kansas, Center for the Study of Science Fiction
University of Liverpool, M.A. in Science Fiction Studies ( [http://www.liv.ac.uk/english/ma_courses/post_ma_sf.htm Liverpool program description] and [http://www.liv.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/taught_courses/science_fiction_studies_ma.htm courses] ) (program looks at leading writers in the field)
University of Reading, M.A. in Science Fiction: Histories, Texts, Media
ignificant SF scholars (in chronological order)
John W. Campbell, Jr.
Gary K. Wolfe
Principal journals, conferences, and societies
Science Fiction Research Association(SFRA)
Society for Utopian Studies
International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts(IAFA)
Internet Review of Science Fiction" (IROSF)
New York Review of Science Fiction" (NYRSF)
Sam Moskowitz. "The Immortal Storm: A History of Science Fiction Fandom." Atlanta: Atlanta Science Fiction Organization, 1954; reprinted Westport, CT: Hyperion Press, 1974.
Kingsley Amis. "New Maps of Hell: A Survey of Science Fiction." New York: Harcourt, 1960.
Robert Scholes. "Structural Fabulation: An Essay on Fiction of the Future." Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1975.
Neil Barron, ed. "Anatomy of Wonder: Science Fiction." New York: Bowker, 1976 (first ed.); numerous editions since.
Samuel R. Delany. "The Jewel-Hinged Jaw: Notes on the Language of Science Fiction." Elizabethtown, New York: Dragon, 1977.
Ursula K. Le Guin, "The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction". New York: Perigee, 1980.
Donna Haraway, "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century." 1985. (established cyborg feminism)
Bruce Sterling, "Preface," in "Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology" New York: Arbor, 1986. (defined the term cyberpunk)
Gary K. Wolfe. "Critical Terms for Science Fiction and Fantasy: A Glossary and Guide to Scholarship". Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1986. (work in librarianship establishing a thesaurus)
Marleen Barr, "Alien to Femininity" Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1987. (definitive first book-length work of feminist science fiction scholarship)
John Cluteand Peter Nicholls, eds. " The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction". New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993.
ignificant research resources, databases, and archives
A number of significant research collections and archives in SF studies have been developed in the past three to four decades. These include academic collections at the
University of Liverpool, the University of Kansas, the Toronto Public Library, and the University of California, Riverside.
Science fiction libraries and museumsfor a comprehensive list and description of relevant collections and research institutes.
Important databases and portals
* [http://www2.ku.edu/~sfcenter/ SF Hub] , the University of Liverpool Library's "Science Fiction Foundation" collection
* [http://www2.ku.edu/~sfcenter/ Center for the Study of Science Fiction] ,
University of Kansas
* [http://isfdb.tamu.edu ISFDB] , the Internet Speculative Fiction DataBase
* [http://www.locusmag.com/index/0start.html Locus Index to Science Fiction (1984-1999)]
* [http://www.depauw.edu/sfs/biblio.htm Chronological Bibliography of Science Fiction History, Theory, and Criticism]
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