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Alternative Worlds in Anglophone Speculative Fiction, 7.5 Credits

Swedish name: Alternativa världar i engelskspråkig spekulativ fiktion

This syllabus is valid: 2022-08-22 valid to 2024-08-04 (newer version of the syllabus exists)

Course code: 1EN090

Credit points: 7.5

Education level: Second cycle

Main Field of Study and progress level: English: Second cycle, has only first-cycle course/s as entry requirements

Grading scale: Three-grade scale

Responsible department: Department of Language Studies

Established by: Faculty director of studies, Faculty of arts, 2022-03-23


In the broad genre of speculative fiction, the reader encounters alternative worlds that in various ways contrast to reality. Contemporary hopes and fears are starting points for imaginings connected to technological developments but also to social, cultural and environmental concerns. Through analyses of a selection of texts, this literary studies course examines how Anglophone speculative fiction offers unique ways of perceiving and critically addressing a host of concerns linked to areas such as environment and climate, identity, kinship formations, and artificial intelligence.

This syllabus is a translation of Alternativa världar i engelskspråkig spekulativ fiktion, 7,5 hp. If there are discrepancies between the English and Swedish versions, the Swedish version is the legally binding document.

Expected learning outcomes

Upon completion of the course the student will be able to:

Knowledge and understanding
*    account for and exemplify representations of alternative worlds in a selection of speculative fiction;
*    explain how the course's theme areas are expressed in the course material;
*    account for and discuss modern literary criticism and relevant literary theories;

Competence and skills
*    independently analyze literary source material;
*    relate their own findings to relevant research to forward a scholarly argument;
*    in writing communicate primary and secondary source analyses at an advanced academic level;

Judgement and approach
*    critically evaluate primary sources as expressions mediating or questioning social, cultural and environmental norms;
*    critically evaluate scholarly argumentation;
*    critically evaluate culturally and temporally bound positions in both primary and secondary material.

Required Knowledge

Univ: At least 90 ECTS including at least 15 ECTS with academic progression (corresponding to level 61-90 hp in the Swedish academic system) in English, or equivalent knowledge. To be accepted to the course, the applicant must have previously completed introduction and intermediate level courses in English literature at university level, or equivalent knowledge. Alternatively, 90 ECTS in Swedish Comparative Literature. Knowledge of English equivalent of English 6/English Course B.

Form of instruction

Independent studies and group discussions via the learning platform. The student is expected to actively participate in discussions and complete assigned written tasks. This is to be done within given time frames. The medium of instruction is English and knowledge of Swedish is not required

Examination modes

Examination consists of assessment of the student's active participation in group discussions, and of individual written assignments. Grades awarded for individual written assignments are Pass with distinction (Väl godkänd), Pass (Godkänd) or Fail (Underkänd). Grades awarded for active participation in group discussions are Pass (Godkänd) or Fail (Underkänd). All examination is conducted in English.

Deviations from modes of examination in the syllabus can be made for a student who has been determined eligible for pedagogical support due to a disability. Individual adjustments to the mode of examination will be made on the basis of the student's needs. The mode of examination is adjusted in relation to the expected learning outcomes in the syllabus. Following a request from the student, the course coordinator, in consultation with the examiner, is to make a quick decision regarding an adjusted mode of examination. The decision is relayed to the student.

A student who is awarded a Pass grade cannot be re-examined.  

A student who has not received a Pass grade on a test has the right to re-take the test (a re-sit). The first re-sit will be arranged no later than two months after the original test, but no earlier than ten working days after the result of the original test has been announced. For tests held in May or June, the first re-sit is to be arranged within three months of the original examination session. The date for the re-sit will be provided, at the latest, in conjunction the original test.

In cases where a test cannot be repeated according to rules in effect regarding re-sits, it will be replaced with another task. The scope and content of such a task should be proportionate to the missed test.

The final date for the submission/completion of assignments falls on the last day of the semester, unless otherwise stated by the teacher. At all examination sessions, tasks and assignments need to be completed and submitted within the time frame set by the teacher in order to be considered for examination. Tasks and assignments submitted late will not be considered for examination, and the student is instead referred to the next examination session.

A student who has failed the original test and the re-sit for a course or module has the right to have another examiner appointed, unless special circumstances render this inappropriate. A request is put to the Director of Studies for the Faculty of Arts.

Other regulations

If a decision is made that the course is no longer to be given or if the syllabus has been revised, the student is guaranteed at least three examination opportunities (including the regular examination opportunity) according to the previous syllabus for a maximum of two years from the previous syllabus expiring or the course no longer being offered.


Valid from: 2022 week 34

Itäranta Emmi
Memory of water : a novel
First edition : New York : Harper Voyager : [2014] : 266 pages :
ISBN: 9780062326157
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Aldiss Brian W.
Supertoys last all summer long, and other stories of future time
1st St. Martin's Griffin ed. : New York : St. Martin's Griffin : 2001 : xix, 232 pages :
ISBN: 0312280610
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Reading instructions: or the e-book-edition: Aldiss, Brian Supertoys Trilogy Harper Collins pb, 2014, e-bok ISBN: 9780007580477

Ishiguro Kazuo
Klara and the sun
Paperback edition : London : Faber & Faber : 2022 : 340 sidor :
ISBN: 9780571364909
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Burke Sue
Semiosis : a novel of first contact
Paperback original edition : London : Harper Voyager : [2018] : 325 sidor :
ISBN: 9780008300777
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Pulley Natasha
The Bedlam stacks
Paperback edition : New York : Bloomsbury Publishing : 2018 : 337 sidor :
ISBN: 9781620409695
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Additional texts, comprising about 150 pages, are available electronically via Umeå University Library, or via the learning platform. Mandatory.

Students choose one or two of the novels below for the essay assignment. Mandatory.

VanderMeer Jeff
New York : MCD/Farrar, Straus and Giroux : 2018 : 348 sidor :
ISBN: 9780374537654
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Winterson Jeanette
The stone gods
1st Mariner books ed. : Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt : 2009 : 206 pages :
ISBN: 9780156035729
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Miller Sam J.
Blackfish City
London, England : Orbit : 2018 : 328 pages :
ISBN: 0356510042
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