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 Fictions of Technology
Code ENGL782
Coordinator Dr WG Slocombe
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2020-21 Level 7 FHEQ Second Semester 15


This module examines the role that technology has played in literature, and how literature engages with discourses of technology. Reading texts from across history—and considering Victorian representations of technology, mechanisation and industrialisation, the optimism of Golden Age SF, cyberpunk and internet culture, and techno-thrillers—we will explore: the social hopes and fears that representations of new technologies encode; what literature reveals about the relationship between humanity and technology (as tool, opportunity, threat, and so on); the extent to which technology is conceived of as a solution, as a problem, or as both simultaneously, in relation to particular cultural concerns; the ways in which technologies and representations of technologies can be understood in relation to issues such as race, gender, disability, sexuality, nationality, wealth, and power; the “fictions” that we tell ourselves about technology, and about its impact on society.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) Students will be able to demonstrate a systematic understanding of the ways in which a given technology has been situated in relation to social conventions and expectations.

(LO2) Students will be able to demonstrate advanced skills in textual analysis of a range of texts with detailed attention to the ways in which technology is represented.

(LO3) Students will be able to analyse, evaluate, and contextualise the ways in which technologies and representations of technology reflect—and may reinforce—established social hierarchies.

(LO4) Students will be able to critically engage with academic research and/or theoretical discourses about technology, and relate these to specific texts.

(LO5) Students will be able to present their knowledge in a format appropriate to advanced academic study, and suitable for different audiences.

(S1) Communication (oral, written and visual) - Academic writing (inc referencing skills).

(S2) Critical thinking and problem solving - Critical analysis.

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

(S4) Communication (oral, written and visual) - Listening skills.

(S5) Information skills - Critical reading.

(S6) Research skills - All Information skills.

(S7) Skills in using technology - Using common applications (word processing, databases, spreadsheets etc.).

(S8) Research skills - Awareness of /commitment to academic integrity.



The module is divided into three broad topic areas: Technologies Across Time (considering how we understand and conceptualise perceptions of technology and its development), Humanity & Technology (the relationship between humanity and technology, particularly in social terms), and The Uneven Distribution of the Future (how futures-oriented texts and ideas rely upon particular assumptions about technology and scientific progress). Specific texts can vary year by year, but the module comprises a mix of fiction, film, and criticism from across a range of historical periods, and illustrative writers and critics include Neal Stephenson, Pat Cadigan, Isaac Asimov, Homer, Martin Heidegger, Charlie Brooker, E. M. Forster, Hari Kunzru.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Teaching Method 1 - Seminar
Description: Screening session (11 x 1hr seminars, 1 x 2hr seminars)
Attendance Recorded: Yes

Teaching Method 2 - Workshop
Description: 1 *2 hr
Attendance Recorded: Yes

Seminars planned to be delivered face-to-face but will pivot to synchronous delivery if necessary (due to COVID-19)

Teaching Schedule

  Lectures Seminars Tutorials Lab Practicals Fieldwork Placement Other TOTAL
Study Hours   11


Timetable (if known)   60 mins X 1 totaling 11
      120 mins X 1 totaling 2
Private Study 137


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Individual oral presentation. Standard UoL penalty applies for late submission. This is NOT an anonymous assessment.  15 minutes    50       
Poster. Standard UoL penalty applies for late submission. This is an anonymous assessment.      50       

Recommended Texts

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