FT 09-O Afro-Futurism: Portrayals of African Americans in Science Fiction and Fantasy
Afro-futurism is a term coined in the early 1990s by academics, cultural critics, public intellectuals, and science fiction and fantasy writers who wanted to specifically place African Americans in the center of creative works in the science fiction and fantasy genre. For nearly 20 years, African American scientists, musicians, writers, filmmakers, and artists have used science, technology, and science fiction as part of a creative and cultural movement to explore the black experience and re-imagine the lives of African Americans.
In this course, students will explore several examples of the centering of African Americans in science fiction and fantasy in the forms of short stories, novels, artwork, graphic novels, films, music, and television. Students will discuss and critique the similarities and differences raised in science fiction and fantasy storytelling when the focus is primarily from point of view, cultural perceptions, and personal experiences and histories of African Americans.
Students will read Octavia Butler’s Kindred before arriving on campus, but there will be additional readings from other science fiction writers ranging from Harlan Ellison to Ray Bradbury to Frank Miller. Students will watch a diverse mix of science fiction and fantasy films and television ranging from The X Files to Spawn to The Brother From Another Planet. Ultimately, students will be exposed to a wide range of works featuring African Americans in the science fiction and fantasy genre.