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Joseph High School Syllabus: Fantasy and Science Fiction

Teacher: Mr. Matarazzo

Department: English

Email: cmatarazzo@stjoek12.org

Course Description:
This elective course is a literature class designed to introduce high school students to the
genres of fantasy and science fiction literature. We will study these works as literature, as in any
other literature class. In our studies, we will try to interpret these works and to determine the
authors individual takes on the human condition based on their themes and messages as well as
their commentary on character. Students will be expected to write several formal papers on their
readings. The course will also have a large film component, especially in the area of science

Course Outline:
Quarter 1:
Unit 1: The Literary Cousins: Fantasy and Science Fiction. In this unit we will
explore the differences and similarities in these sub-genres of fiction by studying comparative
pieces. In short, we will see works that illustrate the characteristics of hard science fiction,
social science fiction, fantasy and fiction that operates with characteristics of both sci-fi and
Unit 2: The Golden Age of Science Fiction. The golden age of science fiction is
regarded as that period in which the genre first flourished. In general, this is the period between
the 1930s and somewhere around 1960. This is the time of the most highly-regarded masters of
the craft, including Bradbury, Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein and Blish. We will see examples of work
by each of these writers and we will consider the value of the genre as literature.

Quarter 2:
Unit 3: The New Wave. Starting in the 1960s, sci-fi took on a harder edge. Writers like
Harlan Ellison started commenting on societys direction with angry energy and writers started to
experiment with form in a way no one had seen. Also, science fiction really made its way into

popular culture, especially with the introduction of the British series Dr. Who and, of course, the
science-fiction game-changer, Star Trek, in America.
Unit 4: The Media Generation. Science fiction has to keep up with science, and as
technology contributed more and more to interconnection, from the phone, to the television, to
the Internet, science fiction found itself with a new playground on which to expose the positives
and negatives in a world continually further integrated with technology. In this generation,
steampunk fiction was invented and writers like a then-young George R.R. Martin responded
to the wonders and challenges of emerging technologies.
Quarter 3:
Unit 5: Tolkiens World. The modern realm of fantasy literature really began with The
Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. This is not to say he was the very first
fantasy writer, but that he brought fantasy (slowly) into the popular mindset. After Tolkien, the
genres started to mix. For instance, is Star Wars fantasy or science fiction? We will explore this
question by looking at the genres post-Tolkien.
Unit 6: Spookiness in American Fiction. Since the time of Washington Irving, through
Poe, to King, readers in America have had an affinity for dark, fantastic fiction, which, of course,
developed into the genre of horror. We will look at some of these works, though I promise -not the most aggressively disturbing ones
Quarter 4:
Unit 7: Fantasy and Science Fiction on Page and Film. Both fantasy and science
fiction have flourished -- and still flourish -- on film. In fact, some of the earliest science fiction
writers, including Ray Bradbury, were both influenced by and influential to the film world. We
will discuss the differences between page and screen. We will also study the change in literary
techniques between the media. This will be a unit that will encompass the full fourth quarter.

Grading Breakdown:
Unit Tests:


Reading Quizzes:




Projects, Papers and Presentations:


Necessary Materials:
Each day in class, students should have their journals and their fiction mbooks. Separate
notebooks should be kept for in-class notes notes should not be in student journals.

Procedures and Policies:

Just be ladies and gentlemen. I promise to treat you with respect and I would ask the same in
return. I trust you to make good decisions and to behave with decorum; hopefully I am right to
do so.

Personal Technology in the Classroom:

Cell phones, computers, tablets, or any other electronic devices, are not to be used during class
time without the permission of the teacher. Students may not record any audio or any visual
element of class without the teachers permission. Doing so without permission will result in
disciplinary action. Any infraction of the Acceptable Use Policy, as explained in the student
handbook, will be reported to the administration.