Fantasy is a key term both in psychology and in the art and artifice of
humanity. The things we make, including our stories, reflect, serve, and
often shape our needs and desires. We see this everywhere from fairy tale
to kiddie lit to myth; from "Cinderella" to Alice in Wonderland to Superman;
from building a fort as a child to building ideal, planned cities as whole
societies. Fantasy in ways both entertaining and practical serves our persistent
needs and desires and illuminates the human mind. Fantasy expresses itself
in many ways, from the comfort we feel in the godlike powers of a fairy
godmother to the seductive unease we feel confronting Dracula. From a practical
viewpoint, of all the fictional forms that fantasy takes, science fiction,
from Frankenstein to Avatar, is the most important in our modern
world because it is the only kind that explicitly recognizes the profound
ways in which science and technology, those key products of the human mind,
shape not only our world but our very hopes and fears. This course will
explore Fantasy in general and Science Fiction in specific both as art
and as insights into ourselves and our world.
For further information about the coursework, please see the Work Expectations page.
This course comprises ten units. Each will include a significant reading, typically a novel or a selection of shorter works. I will offer video discussions of each of the readings and also of more general topics in art and psychology that those readings help illuminate. Each unit will include online quizzes and ask you to write a brief essay offering your own insights into the reading. In order, the units are:
Grimm — Children's and Household Tales
Carroll — Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass
Stoker — Dracula
Shelley — Frankenstein
Hawthorne & Poe — Stories and Poems
Wells — The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Invisible Man, "The Country of the Blind," "The Star"
Burroughs & Gilman — A Princess of Mars & Herland
Bradbury — The Martian Chronicles
LeGuin — The Left Hand of Darkness
Doctorow — Little Brother
In Unit I, the specific stories are the ones in the Lucy Crane translation (1886) which was published by Dover and is available online through Project Gutenberg. In Unit V, the specific readings are: Hawthorne's "The Birthmark," "Rappaccini's Daughter," "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment," and "The Artist of the Beautiful"; Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Black Cat," "The Oval Portrait," "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar," "The Bells," "The Raven," "Annabel Lee." All the readings except Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles and Ursula K. LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness will be available online at no charge.
Start your review of Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World
Maria completed this course, spending 12 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
The readings are heavy but well chosen. The lectures are given by a professor with an old-fashioned view of literature and a ponderous lecturing style. The weekly essays are peer-graded, which doesn't always work. I have done graduate work in literature...
The readings are heavy but well chosen. The lectures are given by a professor with an old-fashioned view of literature and a ponderous lecturing style. The weekly essays are peer-graded, which doesn't always work. I have done graduate work in literature at Duke and UC Berkeley, and I felt that I was being graded by people who knew much less about literature than I did.
A warning about the final grade: one of the introductory videos states that if students submit all the essays, they WILL get an A. I completed all the essays with a high average score. I also completed all the quizzes. For lack of time, I did not participate in the discussion forums, but those were not supposed to be included in the final grade. However, I did not get an A. I submitted a complaint about this to the professor and to Coursera, but my complaint was ignored.
Kirk Barbera completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
I took this course back in 2015. It was an eye-opening course by Professor Rabkin. I noticed that one of the "reviewers" were upset that the lectures were "old fashioned." By old fashioned, I assume the reviewer means intelligible.
I've taken many literature courses, most of them are meandering nonsense. This was an incredible course that will help to guide you through the genres of fantasy and science fiction.
Anonymous completed this course.
I'm glad I took the class. The reading list and the lectures were very interesting. I changed my opinion about Carroll's "Alice", and Nathaniel Hawthorne became my new favorite author. The only issue I had with this course is the peer-grading: the comments I received on my essays were unfriendly, unprofessional, and not even in English!
Anonymous completed this course.
Best online course I ever took. Though the readings become less and less interesting form me as the course advances the lessons extracted from them are invaluable. The insight on Grimm's brothers fairy tales, Frankenstein and Alice are mind-blowing and changed my mind about fantasy and tales from then on.
One completed this course, spending 6 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
Unfortunately, I has disappointed by this course, I enjoyed the first few lessons but later on I found the lecturer's ideas quite arbitrary. Peer reviews (as someone else has already mentioned) was patchy too. Not one of the best courses I'm afraid