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Lecture 2

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Mike Johnstone

LECTURE 2 Cont’d from last week’s – Rachel Swirsky’s Eros, Philia, Agape  “Difference” in SF is signalled by o Setting  Ie. Space; a future or alternate Earth; another planet; a spaceship; alien environments and cultures; a technologically highly advanced society, etc o Characters  Ie. Robots, machines, Als, aliens, transhumans/posthumans, cyborgs, etc  Subjectivities: SF explores, presents, and challenges us with a variety of “other” subject positions – Ie. Perspectives, identities, individualities, consciousnesses, selves, etc  There are clues in the story that tell us that it’s an SF story  The challenge of reading SF is to be aware of how language is manipulated in some ways  “There’s no Shangri-La for rebel ROBOTS” – tells us that its SF  Even before we know Lucian is a robot, some language in the text gives us clues that it’s a SF story o “He’d COME TO Adriana” as opposed to they met, or was introduced – its like he’s owned by Adriana o “He’d SURRENDERED the ability to speak”  One we learn that Lu is a robot, the SF language is more noticeable o ‘Lucian’s SCUPTED FACE, his skin INLAID with tiny lines’ o ‘His eyes CALIBRATED’ o The language here confirms that Lu is a robot  Lucian has been manufactured to imitate/mimic a human, like a work of art  Immediate/local setting: o Adriana’s house (for Adriana, Lucian and Rose)  ‘The house puffed her scent’  ‘the house will clean up’  ‘instructed the house to regulate himself’  ‘let the security system take a DNA sample from her hair’ o The house itself is full of technology that we don’t have today – SF story  Wider background setting of the future o The Pacific Ocean; San Francisco; a farm; Italy (Rome, Tuscany); Mazatlan; the desert; Bosto o ‘bullet train’; ‘robotics company’; programmed the car’; ‘memory crystal’ o Fuoco as a ‘designer species’  Focalization – in a narrative (poetry or prose), the perspective through which events are viewed/perceived o Lucian is sometimes the POV  Focalizer – the specific character through whom events are viewed/perceived (note that the narrator is not necessarily always the focalizer in a narrative; also note that a narrative might switch between several different focalizers) o In a story, the narrator is not always the Focalizer o Lucian is a Focalizer  Significance – when we’re in someone’s POV/thoughts, we identify and connect with the character; but he’s a robot, so how do we connect with a non-human being? o He has his own sense of self – he makes mistakes on purpose because he knows it makes Adriana laugh  Lucian as a robot with consciousness and subjectivity o He remembered o He loved those things, he had owned them o Lucian’s consciousness o He persisted o Inhuman fleshhoe eloquently Lucian spoke o He understood and loved her o His brain was slowly reshaping itself o “but I am not a human” o Circuits  Lucian wants to be his own self o “You gave me life as a human, but I am not a human. Human words were created for human brains. I need to know what I am. What I will become.” o Human brains are for humans o Is he aspiring to be a human or a robot? o He was made a robot to mimic a human, but he wants to be a robot  The Hero’s journey 1. SEPARATION/DEPARTURE: hero receives the “call to adventure”; hero leaves his/her society 2. INITIATION and TRIALS: hero enters the underworld, the realm of night, the “belly of the whale”; hero faces trials and tests that must be overcome 3. RETURN/REINTEGRATION: hero returns to society victorious, with new knowledge and/or power; hero can redeem society o What is Lucian’s metaphor?  Possibly Lucian is like a child leaving his parents?  Adriana can stand for the dark one? And Lucian is this enlightened character o Lucian doesn’t just leave Adriana, he goes out to the desert  Like Jesus, he goes out into the desert for days/nights  It’s much more natural and earthy  Its not until he’s integrated that Adriana falls in love with him  Integrated o Combined into a whole; united; undivided o Also of a personality in which the component elements combine harmoniously o Uniting in one system several constituents previously regarded IDENTITY  Latin, “same/sameness”  The quality or condition of being the same in substance, composition, nature, properties, or in particular qualities under consideration, absolute or essential sameness; oneness  The sameness of a person or thing at all times or in all circumstances; the condition or face that a person or thing is itself and not something else; individuality, personality  Types/Forms of Identity o Psychological, emotional o Biological/physiological – ie. Sex, sexuality, healthy/diseased, skin colour, height, etc o Cultural – ie. Gender, race, nation(ality), language, religion, etc o Social – ie. Class (low, middle, upper, royalty, etc), profession/occupation, education, activities, etc o Economic – ie. Class (poor, rich, etc), peoperty, posessions o Political o Environmental/geographical Close Reading: an Analytical Approach 1. Identify a topic  Initial reaction to a work – ie. Love it, haie it, confused, disinterested, etc  More specific response to a particular aspect of the work – ie. Characters? Setting? Certain events/incidents/situations? Author’s style?  Ask questions to challenge your initial reaction – what in particular is intriguing, troubling, confusing, fascinating? Why? 2. Define the scope (narrow the subject)  Scope = the specific parts of the topic you will discuss  Establish the claims that you can realistically make given the evidence available and any time or space restrictions  Focus on specific, concrete details  Focus on explaining the significance of those details in a passage, a series of related passages, a scene, a chapter, etc – and within the text as a whole  The more you narrow your approach, the better  It allows you to fully develop the argument/analysis
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