First class: September 4, 2019
Mutant superheroes, zombies, vampires, and sentient robots—tales of transformation fascinate the popular imagination as we struggle to figure out what it means to be human in the twenty-first century. In this course, we will consider stories of transformation (or metamorphosis) that have themselves undergone transformations as they are told, and retold in written, oral, and visual media. Such stories often use an element of fantasy in order to question our assumptions about identity, power, the boundaries between humans and other life forms, and between humans and their creations.
We will trace such concerns and questions across a wide range of materials, from old tales to popular fiction, visual media, performance, and film. Using Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as a pivotal text, we will move from scenarios of fiction and myth to scenarios of science and technology. Throughout the course, we will thus also explore the critical potential of art and storytelling in different media to ask ourselves how thinking about imaginary transformations can equip us to deal with the challenges posed by likely transformations in the contemporary world. In your final project, you will have a choice to reflect on what you have learned in the form of an essay or by creating your own story of transformation.
Through active participation in the course, students will become able to:
- Analyze the idea of metamorphosis through a number of literary and media manifestations from different times and cultures.
- Produce critical analyses of written and multimedia texts and situate them in a larger historical and social framework.
- Demonstrate an understanding of the ideological and cultural nature of storytelling and textual/media adaptation.
- Demonstrate the interconnectedness of people across time through their creative thoughts and artistic products.
- Relate stories of transformation to human aspirations and situations of cultural and social conflict.
The course is assessed by 100% coursework including the following components:
|Participation and contribution to class and tutorial activities. Active participation and contribution to classroom activities and online discussions will be rewarded.||20%|
|Response essays: two short writing assignments of approximately 1000 words||45%|
|Final project: reflective essay or creative project||35%|
Instructions for assessment tasks 2 and 3 will be given during the course.
Readings and visual material will include three stories from Ovid’s Metamorphoses; extracts from Frankenstein, Dracula, and other vampire/monster stories and films, including Mr. Vampire and Rigor Mortis; and tales of transformation and transhumanism, including, but not limited to, Ken Liu’s short story “Good Hunting” and Netflix’s animated short film adaptation based on it. All short texts and media to be discussed in this course will be made available on Moodle.