Introduction to Literature

LIT 2220 - 201. Sinclair Community College

Spring 2020.

Juan Pablo Melo

Important statement for how we will proceed with the rest of the class:

Please click on the "Syllabus" tab above to download the updated syllabus.

For the remainder of the class we will be reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s science fiction novel, 2312. We will be discussing elements of sci fi as a genre and try to think particularly about the utopian dimensions of sci fi. I think it is crucial, in a moment of crisis like the one we are living right now, to tie our studies in literature to our vital, everyday experience. There is no point beating around the bush: the world as we know it is crumbling around us, and it is hard to tell what it will look like when we get through this crisis. Therefore, particularly for young adults like you, this is a time when things like classes on literature can seem of little importance. This is why I want us as a class to shift gears and focus on the way literature can serve as a space for thinking about unrealized and utopian possibilities, about alternative futures. This should provide a window through which to think about your present reality and the relationships between science, politics, crisis, literature, and culture to your life.

What do you have to do to keep up with the class and to pass the class?

ESSAY: I have moved the due date for your essay to the end of the semester. In other words, there will only be one essay to turn in this semester for this class. At this point you should have sent me your topic proposal and a first draft (if you haven’t, please get these to me ASAP so I can give you feedback). The final essay will be due MAY 3. If you want, you can send me additional drafts for me to comment on before that due date.


PRESENTATION: Those who presented in class will receive extra credit for their work. Those who want to receive extra credit can put together an audio or audiovisual presentation which I will share with the class. Please contact me if you want to do this and propose a topic and idea for your presentation. Proposals must be approved before you turn in your presentation.


CLASSWORK: The rest of the course will be held in a non-synchronous manner. That is, we will not be having “live” classes online. Rather, on the day before our “class meetings,” so on Mondays and Wednesdays, I will post an audio lecture or other audiovisual materials and a set of questions and activities that you will respond to on our class blog. You will have until the end of the day on Tuesday and Thursday respectively to do the listed class readings, listen to the posted audio lectures or listen or watch other posted audiovisual materials, and post to the blog responding to the questions or activities listed. So, for March 24, there will be a “March 24” page in our blog where you will post your responses to the listed questions and activities for March 24.


  1. Send me an email stating that you understand the procedures for the rest of the course and have the proper equipment to keep up-to-date with class expectations and assignments. If you don’t reach out to me there is no way I can help you if you will have trouble participating during the rest of the semester.
  2. Register as a user on the class blog.


  1. Check our class website in order to listen to audio lectures and to listen to or watch other audiovisual materials, by midnight on the date on which they are listed.
  2. Do the assigned readings by midnight of the date on which the readings are listed in the below schedule. Readings will be accessible on the class website.

  3. Make sure to post on the class blog as directed by midnight on the day in which questions and activities are listed. So, for the questions and activities for March 24 in the below schedule, you will have until midnight March 24 to post.

  4. I will be available to "meet" with you via skype or phone if you need to discuss an assignment, feedback on a paper, class concepts or assignments, etc. Please send me an email if necessary to set up an appointment.

  5. Write me if you have any questions or if you are confused about anything.


Week 11

By March 24.

  1. Reading: Begin reading 2312.

  2. Reading: Kim Stanley Robinson, “Dystopias Now.”

  3. Watch the video:

  4. Listen to the audio lecture: “Science Fiction and Utopia/Dystopia.”

  5. As per the previous page, send me an email stating that you understand the procedures for the rest of the course and have the proper equipment to keep up-to-date with class expectations and assignments. I am happy to find ways for us to work together if you will have issues participating in class during the rest of the semester, but I need you to reach out to know how I can help.

  6. Go to our class blog. Register as a member of the blog. In the “March 24” discussion forum (in our class blog) post a response (minimum 200 words per question) to the following questions:

    1. The COVID19 virus situation we are living through feels almost like being in a zombie film. We are all locked at home, and when we do venture out into the world, we are trying not to get sick with the virus. Another way to look at this is from a utopian/dystopian perspective: suddenly the world as it has existed comes to a stop, and people are forced to live in ways they never considered before. Keeping in mind Kim Stanley Robinson's notion of science fiction as acting via a double lens action (see the reading above, "Dystopias Now"): How do you see the present situation? Do you feel that it has utopian possibilities? Or do you feel that we are living in a dystopian moment? If you were to tell this experience as a story many decades in the future, how would you narrate it? What form would you use to convey the content of the present experience of living through COIVD19. Would you narrate this experience in the third person past tense (“little did we realize that the world was about to change”), or another way? Why would you make one choice as opposed to another? 

    2. Do you have a favorite utopian or dystopian movie or book? What do you like about it? What kind of genres are activated in this book/movie, and how do they function (metaphorically, allegorically, etc.)?

  7. Read a few of your peers’ responses. 

By March 26.

  1. Reading: 2312, Prologue through pg. 78 of the pdf.

  2. Reading:

  3. Audio lecture: "What is utopia?" 

  4. Response/Activity:

    1. Listen to the lecture and review the notes titled "What is Utopia?" in the Resources section of this website. The questions and activities will be asked in the lecture. The lecture and the notes will be useful in doing the activities. However, see response section for March 26 on the blog for a clarification on the activity I asked you to do at the end of the lecture. 

Week 12

By March 31

  1. Reading: 2312, pg. 79 (Swan and Zasha) – 160 of the pdf.

  2. Begin Reading: Fredric Jameson, Archaeologies of the Future, pg. xi - 21. 

  3. Audio lecture: "Utopian World-Building in 2312." 

  4. Other Material: Look at this guide for building an asteroid terrarium: 

  5. Response/Activity: Listen to the audio lecture for questions and activities.

By April 2

  1. Reading: 2312, pg. 161 (Lists (4)) – 185 of the pdf.
  2. Finish Reading: Jameson, Archaeologies of the Future, pg. xi - 21.
  3. Audio lecture: "The Body and Emotions in 2312"

  4. Other Material: Emotional Infrastructures

  5. Response/Activity: Listen to the audio lecture for questions and activities.


Week 13

April 7

  1. Reading: 2312, pg. 186 (Swan and the Inspector) – 212.  

  2. Reading: Kim Stanley Robinson, "There is No Planet B:"

  3. Optional Reading: Fredric Jameson, "The Politics of Utopia."

  4. Audio lecture: "The Body and Emotions in 2312 Continued"

  5. Response/Activity: Listen to the audio lecture for questions and activities.

April 9

  1. Reading: 2312, pg. 212 – 255.

  2. Reading: "The Realism of Our Time" 

  3. Response/Activity: Time to take a deep breath. No additional lecture or activities for today. Catch up on all readings, assignments, and postings. Make sure to read the article "The Realism of Our Time," as we will be responding to that interview with Kim Stanley Robinson on Tuesday. Get ahead on research and writing for your final paper. Reach out to me if you need guidance or help with any class matters. Have a good weekend and stay tuned for the April 14 lecture, additional readings, and assignments.

Week 14

April 14

  1. Reading: 2312, pg. 255 – 298.

  2. Audio lecture: "The Utopian Dimensions of Time"

  3. Response/Activity: Listen to the lecture for questions and activities!

April 16

  1. Reading: 2312, pg. 298 – 330.  

  2. Optional Reading: "The Great Schism." from Fredric Jameson, Archaeologies of the Future.

  3. Audio lecture: "The Spatial Dimensions of Time"

  4. Other Material:  (see question number one below).

  5. Optional Other Material: Kim Stanley Robinson discusses his work in an interview:

  6. Response/Activity:

    1. Watch the attached short feature, part of a series of videos on youtube on "Nowness" (which in the context of our class discussions on time, should immediately signal that this video will have a deeply Utopian charge). Do an initial and exploratory analysis of the formal and content elements of this video. Focus on time. What is it that this video is trying to convey? How is "nowness" portrayed in this video? What about the formal elements of this video add to its representation: sound, use of camera, etc. How is habit or work portrayed in this video? How is individual biographical time represented? How does the body enter this representation (habit, work, art)? Where is the collective in this video? What is the role of space/place in this video? Does this video have a Utopian impulse? if so, what is Utopian about it?

    2. Listen to the lecture for additional questions and activities. 

Week 15

April 21

  1. Reading: 2312, pg. 330 – 403.

  2. Audio lecture: No lecture today. There will be a longer lecture on Thursday, so use this time to catch up on reading, work on your final essay, and please fill out the class evaluation (link below). I appreciate any constructive feedback and comments about what worked about the course (both in person and on-line), what didn't, what engaged you, what didn't, things to change, things to think about, etc.

  3. Response/Activity:

April 23

  1. Reading: 2312, pg. 403 – 436.  

  2. Audio lecture: "The Political Problem of the Collective." 

  3. Additional Materials:

  4. Additional Materials:

  5. Response/Activity: Check out the audio lecture for questions and activities.


Week 16

April 28

  1. Reading: 2312, pg. 436 – 476.  

  2. Audio lecture: No lecture today. We will have a final lecture with some final reflection questions on Thursday.

  3. Response/Activity: Focus on catching up on reading, previous posts and assignments, your final paper (due May 3), or filling out the class evaluation survey.

April 30

  1. Reading: 2312, pg. 476 – END.

  2. Audio lecture: "Reflection on Literary and Historical Narratives"

  3. Additional Materials: Kim Stanley Robinson on the Coronavirus:

  4. Response/Activity: Listen to the audio lecture for questions and activities.