Speculative Fiction, Pedagogy, and Social Change (Seminar)
Pedagogy & Professional
/ Interdisciplinary Humanities
Meghan K. Riley (University of Waterloo)
In their 2011 text, Teaching Science Fiction, Andy Sawyer and Peter Wright posit that science fiction is "one of the most effective genres for challenging the perspectives of a student body" (1). Yet Teaching Science Fiction is one of the few recent compendiums on teaching speculative fiction; the last significant scholarly focus on speculative fiction and pedagogy was in the 1970s and 1980s. The majority of publications after 2000 on teaching science fiction consider the teaching of science through science fiction. Very few of the more recent texts consider how instructors of science fiction might engage with concepts of social justice, or how instructors who teach social justice concepts could do so by engaging with speculative fiction literature.
The last decade has seen incredible progress in a genre that has been fraught with racism and sexism at least as much as it challenges it. With the mainstream success of Black Panther, N.K. Jemisin's ouevre, Janelle Monae's music and videos, Tomi Adeyemi's book and movie deals, and Netflix series such as Black Lightning, it is clear that the authorship and readership of speculative fiction is changing. Moreover, instructors in literature and the cognate disciplines are already - and have been for some time - teaching social justice concepts through speculative fiction. However, there is little scholarly conversation about why and how we do it, how to teach social justice through speculative fiction more effectively, or how to have successful conversations with administrators about teaching social justice through speculative fiction. Proposals on secondary education and teacher education are particularly welcome.
Instructors have taught social justice through speculative fiction for some time, but there are few recent publications - particularly comprehensive ones - that address social justice, pedagogy, and speculative fiction. This seminar asks instructors of speculative fiction and social justice to share their strategies, lesson plans, reading lists, and rationale, in order to develop (and hopefully maintain) a community of scholars interested in teaching social justice through speculative fiction. Proposals on secondary education and teacher education are particularly welcome.