The genre of science fiction offers visions of the near or distant future of humankind. Science fiction would, for example, imagine people speeding in flying cars through large canyons made of skyscrapers by 2019; science fiction would also see people leisurely skating through the city on their hoverboards by 2015; and science fiction also foresaw human travel to space in (or being attacked by) flying saucers as early as 1898. Although fascinating, none of these futures have come to pass.

This seminar looks at the long history of imagining the future in U.S. culture, its tragic and comic, romantic and terrifying, utopian and dystopian stories. To learn more about these diverse futures, we will pursue a chronological approach starting with the pulp fiction magazines of the 1920s and 1930s. Throughout the semester we will read shorts stories and novels (Ursula LeGuin, Octavia Butler, William Gibson, N.K. Jemison), watch feature films (Blade Runner), listen to radio shows and podcast (Orson Wells), visit theme parks, listen to music (Afrofuturism), and play video games from various moments in the twentieth and twenty-first century. This seminar eventually explores the multiple ways the future has been and continues to be imagined.