Crime and Prisons in Science Fiction: First-Year Seminar

This winter, I’m teaching a new seminar for first-year students at UC Davis. It’s called “Crime and Prisons in Science Fiction.” (I couldn’t fit the word “Rehabilitation” into the course title without the online display cutting it off, and “Rehab” means something different to most college aged folks.)

Yesterday, we discussed articles on the prison-industrial complex and the new Jim Crow. Students also discussed one chapter excerpt from the 4th Doc Savage novel, the first to describe his “delicate brain operation” to help captured baddies turn into productive “desirable citizens.”

Here’s the reading/viewing list in chronological order:

  • Doc Savage: The Annihilist (1934)
  • The Demolished Man. Alfred Bester (1953)
  • A Clockwork Orange (film, 1971)
  • Escape from New York (film, 1981)
  • Bitch Planet, Vol 1 and 2. Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro (2014)
  • Too Like the Lightning. Ada Palmer (2017)

I’m finishing Palmer’s Perhaps the Stars right now, so I’m excited to cover the first book in that series. I’m looking forward to talking to undergraduates about all these alternatives to traditional punishment.

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