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Course Information

Instructor Info:Susana Loza
TA Info:Mazique Bianco
Zoey Walls
Term: 2012F
Meeting Info: Tuesday Thursday
09:00 AM - 10:20 AM Emily Dickinson Hall (EDH) 2
09:00 AM - 10:20 AM Emily Dickinson Hall (EDH) 2

This course examines questions of race, gender, sexuality, cultural difference, and reproduction in science fiction and horror films. It investigates how and why people in different social positions have been constructed as foreign, freakish, or monstrous. In addition to exploring the relationship between sex/gender norms and hierarchies based on race/species or class/caste, we will also consider the following questions: Does the figure of the alien/freak/monster reconfigure the relationship between bodies, technology, and the division of labor? How do such figures simultaneously buttress and transgress the boundary between human and non-human, normal and abnormal, Self and Other? How does society use the grotesque body of the alien/freak/monster to police the liminal limits of sexuality, gender, and ethnicity? How does The Other come to embody Pure Evil? Finally, what are the consequences of living as an alien/freak/monster for specific groups and individuals? This course is reading-, writing-, and theory-intensive.


All readings are available via the HACU-0133T course website.


Evaluation Criteria:


  1. Complete assigned readings in advance of each class meeting.  Please bring readings to class.
  2. Regular attendance and active participation in class discussions.
  3. Class Presentation on one of the assigned readings.
  4. Regularly review course website for announcements, assignments, and additional readings.
  5. Complete and submit all written work in a timely manner, which include the following:
  6. Submit a portfolio consisting of all your written work at the end of the semester (Due 12/6).
  7. Submit a Mid-Term Self-Evaluation (Due 10/4) AND a Self-Evaluation (Due 12/12).
    • 6 Blog Posts (Due on 9/13, 9/25, 10/4, 10/23, 11/8, and 12/4)
    • Research Paper Abstract (Due 10/2)
    • Annotated Bibliography (Due 10/18)
    • Detailed Outline (Due 10/30)
    • Rough Draft (Due 11/15)
    • 10-12 Page Final Research Paper (Due 11/29)

Class Attendance:  Because attendance is critical to the success of this seminar, only three (3) absences are allowed (subsequent absences will result in a "no evaluation").  Please keep in mind that when you skip class, you miss information crucial to understanding the readings, a sense of which themes are important, and the presentations of your classmates.

Class Discussions: This course follows a seminar format, and as such, you are required to arrive promptly to class and actively participate in all class discussions. You are expected to fully engage with the assigned readings and offer informed perspectives in class. We all benefit when we all read, question and listen. In the process, students are expected to be respectful of and open to others’ opinions and suggestions and to avoid monopolizing class discussions. The goal is to facilitate rather than close down critical debate of the subject material.  The degree and quality of participation will be noted in your final narrative evaluations.

Class Presentation: Students will be required to give an in-class presentation of approximately 20 minutes on one of the assigned readings. Each student is expected to do the following: (1) summarize the main points of the article; (2) define any and all relevant terms/theoretical concepts; (3) locate and utilize media examples relevant to the piece; (4) offer critiques based on textual evidence not personal opinion; (5) prepare discussion questions that are specific and grounded in the reading; and (6) lead class discussion.

Blog Posts:  Students will be required to submit SIX posts to the class blog.  Posts should be 500 words or more. They should be typed, proofread, spell checked and the word count confirmed before you post. Your posts should reflect sophisticated consideration of the readings and issues we have discussed in class. Posts should not summarize our class discussions but rather move beyond them in a significant way.  Posts should engage with theoretical concepts from the readings and apply them to popular culture.  Although not required, students are strongly encouraged to comment on the posts of their fellow students via the class blog.

Research Paper:  A research paper is required for this course. Students will be evaluated based upon the successful completion of the following assignments: research abstract, annotated bibliography, detailed outline, rough draft, and final draft. Final drafts are due November 29th at 9:00 am and MUST be submitted directly to the Professor, unless other arrangements have been made beforehand. Late papers will be excused only in the case of a documented illness or family emergency. Papers should be 10-12 double-spaced pages in length (one-inch margins and 12 pt. font) and printed double-sided (NO EMAILED PAPERS WILL BE ACCEPTED). The paper title, author’s name and email address, and date should appear at the top of the first page. Do not include a separate cover page. Please staple papers; do not submit papers with clips, binders, or report covers. Please number all pages. Papers must include a bibliography and proper citations, with a minimum of 10 scholarly references cited including at least 3 academic journal publications. While Wikipedia and similar sources might be used for background information, it is expected that students will find more authoritative sources for information and cite these sources rather than citing Wikipedia. The Chicago reference style should be used for the bibliography and citations (students may use an alternative style only with permission of the Professor). Papers should be well structured with appropriate headings throughout, and include conclusions that are well supported by the rest of the paper. Remember this is a research paper, not an opinion essay. All assertions need to be supported with citations to relevant literature. You should cite ideas, not just direct quotes. Headings should be used to structure the paper. Purchasing a hard copy or online subscription of the Chicago Manual of Style is highly recommended.

Additional Info:


Class DecorumTurn off your cell phone, blackberry, android, iPhone, or other electronic device, before class begins. Laptop computer and tablet usage is permitted in class but is strictly limited to course-related activities.  Please note: If I find that you are facebooking, tumbling, tweeting, texting, blogging, pinning, redditing, skyping, googling, gaming, livejournaling, or just plain web surfing during class, you will be assigned an extra writing assignment that will be due at the beginning of the next class.

Tardiness Policy: Students are expected to be in class on time. Attendance will be taken promptly at 9:00 am. If you are late, you will be assigned extra work.  1-5 minutes late will add 100 words to your next blog post assignment (i.e., you will be required to write 600 words instead of 500).  5-10 minutes late will add 200 words (700 words instead of 500). If you are more than ten minutes late, you will be marked absent for the day. Please note: Excessive tardiness will be noted in your final narrative evaluation.

Late Assignments: No late work! No exceptions! All assignments are due on the date, time, and location specified in the syllabus. It is your responsibility to keep track of when and where assignments are due. **NO EXTENSIONS WILL BE GIVEN. ** Please plan ahead as accidents do occur (computers crash, printers run out of toner, networks go down, illnesses descend, hangovers happen, breakups take their toll, etc.).

If you have a physical, psychological, medical, or learning disability that may impact on your ability to carry out assigned course work on time, I urge you to contact the Disabilities Services Coordinator, Joel Dansky. He is responsible for the coordination and provision of services and accommodations for students with disabilities. He may be reached at 413-559-5423 or via email

Plagiarism: Plagiarism is a very serious offense and will not be tolerated. If a student is found guilty of plagiarism he or she will not receive an evaluation for this class, and the case will be handed over to the Dean for disciplinary action. If you use the words or ideas of others you must clearly identify the source in your work (that includes any information found on the web!). Direct quotations must be placed in quotation marks and their sources cited. Paraphrased sources should also be acknowledged. If you are unclear what constitutes plagiarism, consult the Professor before handing your work in. Ignorance of what constitutes plagiarism is not a defense. It is your responsibility to be sure beforehand.