ENG 238S--Science Fiction and Fantasy: Film


This course will not be taught by Anne Lancashire in 2005-06, as she will be on research leave. Course details below are for 2002-03 (as she was on temporary administrative assignment 2003-05). You can check with the Dept. of English in summer 2005 for information on the course for spring 2006.

2004-05. Please note: no materials on this site have been updated since the 2002-03 academic session.

Course materials also available (for 2002-03), linked to this page:

Course Schedule ,
Course Aims ,
General Information ,
Recommended Reading ,

Non-course materials:

Additional Science Fiction Films .

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Study of 12 films, by 12 different directors and from 6 different decades (1950s-2000s), above all from the perspectives of genre and of social/political/cultural contexts. Emphasis is placed upon science fiction, but the course begins with 2 fantasy films and fantasy elements occur in some of the science fiction.

Films (in course order): Reiner, The Princess Bride (1987); Coppola, Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992); Siegel, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956); Haskin, War of the Worlds (1953); Emmerich, Independence Day (1996) [in relation to War of the Worlds]; Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968); Spielberg, Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977); Lucas, Star Wars: A New Hope (1977); Ridley Scott, Blade Runner (1982); Cameron, The Terminator (1984); Verhoeven, Total Recall (1990); Spielberg (and Kubrick), A. I. (2001). All films but Independence Day will be screened for the class; you are expected to see ID on your own.
    Please note: we are doing the original 1956 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and the original versions of all of Star Wars: A New Hope (1977), Close Encounters (1977), and Blade Runner (1982), although we will also be discussing the later versions of all but Inv, and especially of CE and BR. The Course Reader will outline version differences for all of SW:ANH, CE, and BR.

Other required texts: Course Reader for ENG 238S: available from 6 January 2003 at Canadian Scholars' Press (180 Bloor St. W.; Suite 801). This Reader contains articles, and excerpts from books and articles, on genre in general and on science fiction films in particular; and at least one section of the final examination, and also the class tests, will test your knowledge of it. / Students who have not previously taken any course on film should also purchase, from the Bob Miller Bookroom (also at 180 Bloor St. W.; basement level), T. Corrigan's A Short Guide to Writing about Film: a slim paperback (c. 200 pages) which discusses how to think and to write about films in terms of both content and style. At almost $40. it is MUCH overpriced but is still worth it for students unaccustomed to film analysis (the title is misleading, as the book really does show how to "read" films, not simply how to write about them). You may be able to pick it up more cheaply in a 2nd-hand copy; you do not have to have the most recent edition. An alternative to Corrigan is a used copy of D. Bordwell and K. Thompson's Film Art (4th or 5th edn.), which--much longer (c. 500 pages) and dealing with far more (somewhat overwhelming for those not extremely interested in film in general)--is the text for the Cinema Studies Program's introductory film course and costs c. $90. when new. Students who have previously taken a university film course will not need either Corrigan or Bordwell-Thompson.
    A 3-page glossary of film terms, for students without previous courses in film, is included in the Course Reader, as are selected major credits for all films on the course. (You are expected to be accurate, in tests, essays, and the final examination, in the names and spellings of directors, cinematographers, major film characters, etc.)

Other readings: A list of reference works and of recommended secondary readings is separately available; on the web site's main course page, click on "Recommended Reading".

Classrooms: TR 11-12, Sidney Smith Hall, Room 2118; F9-12, Innis Town Hall. F9-11 is for weekly film screenings, which about 50% of the time spill over well into the 11-12 hour; the 11-12 hour is otherwise for (non-compulsory) tutorials. An alternative tutorial hour R3-4 (in the weeks when there are Friday 11-12 tutorials) is in the Audiovisual Library (3rd floor, Robarts Library). The two class tests are in the Friday 9-11 time slot in Innis Town Hall.

Instructor: Prof. Anne Lancashire. Office: University College, Room 277 (main office); Innis College, Room 231 (shared space). Office Hours: Term 2: at Innis, Mon. 2.10-3, Fri. 12.10-1; at UC, Tues. 12.15-1. Telephone: 978-6270 (UC). After 4-5 rings, if I am not in the office, the phone will switch to a secretary who will take a message. I will normally get the message within 24 hours, except on Wednesdays. I will be happy to call you back if you leave your name and number. E-mail: anne@chass.utoronto.ca . I normally log on daily during the academic year, though I may occasionally miss a day. The fastest way to get hold of me is normally by e-mail.

Teaching Assistants: Triny Finlay (triny@chass.utoronto.ca), Kari Maaren (kmaaren@chass.utoronto.ca). Both are in the Ph.D. program in English.

Course requirements: 1 class test (25%), either a second test or a 2000-word essay (25%) (students have individual choice), a written 2-hour final examination (50%). The essay, for those choosing it, is due 3 weeks before the 2nd-test date. NO essay will be accepted after the essay due date, so if your essay has not been handed in on time you will have to write the 2nd test instead.
    Make-up tests will be provided only on documented medical (or equivalent) grounds; you must speak to me and provide the documentation (on a Faculty of Arts & Science form, available from your College Registrar's office) within one week of missing the test.

Studying the films: Students who are not accustomed to film courses, please note: although most of the films will be screened for the course, seeing a film once is no more a satisfactory basis for thinking and writing about it than is reading a novel once. You are expected to go over the films on your own as well: watching them from borrowed or rented videotape, laserdisc, or DVD. All course films are available on short-term (or, in a couple of cases, Reading-Room-Only) loan from the university's Audiovisual Library; film availability (copies, formats, etc.) is listed in the Course Reader. For each course film there is a copy (usually LVD or DVD) which remains always in the AVL, for viewing there, and usually there is also a second copy (normally VHS) which circulates. The AVL is located on the 3rd floor of the Robarts Library, at the head of the "up" escalator; and it has carrels for viewing films from all of VHS, LVD, and DVD formats. (You can also bring in your own film copy and view it in an AVL carrel.) Since, however, the AVL does normally have only one in-library and one circulating copy of each film, many of you may find it easier to get hold of the films from your local video rental outlet. (When you do borrow a film from the AVL, please return it as soon as possible, as a courtesy to other members of the class waiting to borrow it.) AVL circulating copies are sometimes not available for loan (though they are still available in-library) during the 3 days before a test, because of Accessibility Services test set-up requirements. AVL course-film holdings are detailed at the back of the Course Reader. / Most post-1950s course films are readily available at video rental outlets, but you might have to look in several places before finding the 2 1950s films, and the 1977 versions of both Close Encounters and A New Hope may be impossible to find commercially. (Most video stores have only the 1980 or 1998 Close Encounters and the 1997 A New Hope Special Edition). The AVL has the 1977 version of Close Encounters on laserdisc, and the 1977 Star Wars: A New Hope on both videocassette and laserdisc. Blade Runner is available in some video outlets in both its 1982 original form and its 1992 Director's Cut; the AVL has a laserdisc and a videocassette of the original and also a videocassette of the 1992 version. / We will be discussing version differences in class, so you will be able in most cases to use any commercially available version as long as you know how it differs from the version we are studying (the original theatrical release)--which of course will be the version screened for the class.
    Video rental outlets come and go; but as of December 2002, for students living on or near the St. George campus, there are 2 useful outlets: Blockbuster Video, 503 Bloor St. W. (phone 416-920-5507), open 7 days a week, 10 am to midnight; Bay St. Video, 1172 Bay St. (phone 416-964-9088), same hours as Blockbuster.
    When renting or purchasing widescreen films (all the course films from 1968 on are widescreen), try to acquire them in widescreen format wherever possible. Some are available only in panned-and-scanned versions, but increasingly widescreen versions are being released as well as regular ones, on all of videocassette, laserdisc (though this format is now being phased out), and DVD. Unfortunately not all AVL copies of widescreen films are in widescreen, as some films now available in widescreen were not thus available when the AVL originally purchased them. These will be gradually replaced over a number of years.
    Only in spring/summer 1999 did all 3 of the AVL, Innis Town Hall, and Sidney Smith Hall acquire a DVD player and thus make course use of DVDs possible. So far the AVL has only four ENG 238S films on DVD in its collection, but more will gradually be added. For a few course films, however, the image quality is better on the available LVD than on DVD, so we will be preserving and screening from the LVDs of these films. Also in a few cases (e.g., Blade Runner) there is as yet no DVD available of the film version we are studying.

Course web page: you've found it!

Course Reader misprints and content changes: Every year there are a few of these; so beware if you are looking at a friend's Reader from a previous year. Any misprints for this year will be listed right here if/when they are found. (Please notify the instructor if you find any.)

Course prerequisites: This is a 200-level ENG[lish] course. All such courses have the general prerequisite that students must have obtained standing in either at least 4 full university courses (no previous English course required) or in one full ENG course or must be concurrently taking JEF 100Y or one 100-series ENG course other than ENG 100F/S. If you are registered in the course but do not have either the required general prerequisite or the concurrent JEF/ENG course, check your status with your Registrar's office, to avoid later course eligibility problems.

Last updated 12 May 2003.
Copyright 2000/01, 01/02, 02/03 by A. Lancashire. All rights reserved.
For use only by students currently registered in ENG
238F/S, as directed by course instructor A. Lancashire.