UWA Handbook 2017

Unit details

HIST3009 Mythistory: Science Fiction, Fantasy and the Historical Imagination

Credit 6 points
(see Timetable)
Not available in 2017UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 3 option in the History major sequence
  • Category B broadening unit for Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Design students
  • Level 3 elective
Content ''A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...'' The genres of fantasy and science fiction are vital aspects of modernity, with that vitality reflected in the resonance of this epigraph from the Star Wars films, embodied in the vast popularity of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and exemplified by the flourishing subculture associated with Star Trek. This unit studies the 'mythistories' (to use William McNeill's apt term) of these genres: the ways in which they have combined cultural creativity and historical memory to design fantastic pasts, imagine alternative presents, or extrapolate futures. At the same time, the unit examines the emergence of fantasy and science fiction within the crisis-ridden twentieth century, while considering how these genres have, in their turn, contributed to the making of the modern world. The utopian and dystopian futures conceived in science fiction; the alternate history genre (What if the Nazis had won the Second World War?); the imaginary realms and imaginary pasts of 'High Fantasy'; the far-future visions of 'Dying Earth' science-fantasy—all are analysed in their historical and ideological dimensions. Students engage with primary sources and develop their research skills in the history of ideas and cultural history, while engaging with the sophisticated critical and contextual studies that have accumulated around science fiction and fantasy texts.
Outcomes Students are able to (1) describe and assess the basic methodological issues characteristic of the discipline of History; (2) identify and evaluate the methodological problems posed by contemporary history of ideas and cultural history; (3) demonstrate a detailed understanding of the history of the science fiction and fantasy genres and about the historical imagination of those genres; (4) analyse a range of historical material of various kinds for essay assessments using appropriate methodologies; (5) relate their independent interpretations to complex historiographical debates over the history of science fiction and fantasy; and (6) present advanced arguments in both written and oral assessments using the conventions of the historical discipline.
Assessment Typically this unit is assessed in the following ways: (1) tutorial participation; (2) a bibliographical exercise; (3) a research essay; and (4) a review essay. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a bachelor's pass degree student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 overall and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course.
Unit Coordinator(s) Associate Professor Robert Stuart
Unit rules
Prerequisites: a Level 2 History unit or EURO2201 European Civilisation or GEND2902 Men and Masculinities in History
Incompatibility: HIST2233 History in Fantasy, Fantasy in History; HIST2233 Mythistory: Science Fiction, Fantasy and the Historical Imagination; HIST3233 History, Fantasy and Tolkien's Worlds
Contact hours lectures: 20 hours; tutorials: 10 hours

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