Module Details

The information contained in this module specification was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change, either during the session because of unforeseen circumstances, or following review of the module at the end of the session. Queries about the module should be directed to the member of staff with responsibility for the module.
Title Using the Science Fiction Archive
Code ENGL730
Coordinator Mr A Sawyer
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2019-20 Level 7 FHEQ First Semester 5


The module will introduce students to the concept of a literary archive and the importance of context and evidence in presenting an argument about a literary text. It will enable students to develop an understanding of science fiction as a literature which develops and changes over time. It will offer practical experience of research methods and strategies.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) Students will have been introduced to a major research collection and will have developed a sense of its contents and value to its field.

(LO2) Students will have a critical understanding of science fiction as a mode that enables readers and writers to reflect upon their contemporary aspirations and anxieties.

(LO3) Students will have had practical experience inreflecting upon and discussing the value of archival materials such as manuscripts, letters, and ephemeral material.

(S1) Communication (oral, written and visual) - Presentation skills – oral

(S2) Communication (oral, written and visual) - Presentation skills - written

(S3) Communication (oral, written and visual) - Presentation skills - visual

(S4) Critical thinking and problem solving - Critical analysis

(S5) Working in groups and teams - Listening skills

(S6) Research skills - All Information skills



Books and other printed material: Book covers will be displayed and discussed, to show how the books are imagined and for what audience. For example, different versions of covers of books by  authors such as JG Ballard, Philip K Dick,or Joanna Russ will be discussed. The way  texts and illustrations engage with concepts like “the future” or “the alien other”  and how these engagements enable stories to be told about the "contemporary" world will be discussed, using examples from the Science Fiction collections, such as"World of  Tomorrow" cigarette cards and texts written "as if" from the future.

Magazines: Issues of a magazine such as Amazing or Astounding will be discussed, to ask what paratextual items such as adverts and readers’ letters tell us about the audience and what they expect. Evidence for the role of editors, such as Hugo Gernsback,  John W. Campbell or Cele Goldsmith, in defining Science Fiction will be the basis of discussion.

Author's archives: The nature of authors' archives and what we learn from them will be discussed. Examples will include lecture notes and holograph manuscripts from Olaf Stapledon and  letters from Naomi Mitchison and Virginia Woolf. Variant texts from John Wyndham will be discussed. Images from the I. F. Clarke papers will continue discussion on themes such as how we imagine "the future".

Secondary material: Fanzine, conventions, and critical. The way Science Fiction developed a "fandom" which itself developed a sense of "ownership" and "canon formation" of the field, will be discussed by considering fanzines from the 1950s and convention material from 1937 to the 21st century. Later involvement by academic critics, and new generations of fans brought up through online, rather than print media will suggest nuances and fault-lines in this sense of "o wnership", and students will be encouraged to scan onlike "fan archives"such as where early material has been digitised.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Teaching Method 1 - Tutorial
Attendance Recorded: Yes
Notes: 4 x 1 hour seminars

Teaching Schedule

  Lectures Seminars Tutorials Lab Practicals Fieldwork Placement Other TOTAL
Study Hours     4

Timetable (if known)              
Private Study 46


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Assessment 1 There is a resit opportunity. Standard UoL penalty applies for late submission. This is not an anonymous assessment. Assessment Schedule (When) :1  Equivalent to 1500 w    100       

Recommended Texts

Reading lists are managed at Click here to access the reading lists for this module.