Classics and Science Fiction

Left: Heinrich Fueger, Prometheus Brings Fire to Mankind (1817) / Wikimedia Commons
Right: James Whale, Frankenstein (1931) / Wikimedia  Commons

The past is an alien planet. Just as the other worlds and speculative futures of science fiction reflect on our contemporary present through their similarities to and radical differences from our world, so too do the literature, mythology, and thought of ancient Greece and Rome. This course pairs the Greek and Roman classics with works of modern science fiction—sometimes through direct influence, other times through thematic connections—to explore a range of crucial contemporary topics. These topics include social and ecological issues such as technology, ecological catastrophe, empire, race, and gender. Students will also receive training in intertextuality, classical reception studies, and the ways in which the cultural output of the classical past continues to shape our own society, culture, and worldviews.

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About the Creators

Samuel Cooper

Samuel Cooper

Assistant Professor of English, American University in Cairo

Samuel Cooper is Assistant Professor of English at American University in Cairo (Cairo, Egypt). After receiving his PhD in Classics from Princeton University in 2015, he taught for several years as faculty in classics at Bard High School Early College in Queens, NY. His scholarship focuses on the intersections of classics, science fiction, and ecocriticism and has appeared in such journals as Classical Receptions Studies and the American Journal of Philology. He is currently editing a collection of essays on imagining disaster and ecocatastrophe in and through antiquity.

Jesse Weiner

Jesse Weiner

Associate Professor of Classics, Hamilton College

Jesse Weiner is Associate Professor of Classics at Hamilton College (Clinton, NY, USA). He received his PhD in classics in 2011 from the University of California, Irvine, and, before arriving at Hamilton, he previously taught courses in ancient Greek, Latin, and classical literature and civilization at California State University, Long Beach and Illinois Wesleyan University. He is co-editor of Frankenstein and Its Classics: The Modern Prometheus from Antiquity to Science Fiction (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018), and he publishes broadly on Greek and Latin literature and its modern reception. In public humanities, he has worked with Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives and his work has appeared in History Today and The Atlantic.

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