Speculative Series: The Politics of the Imagination
They say the personal is political and the political is personal. But what about the magical? The inhuman? The not-yet-real? You guessed it: political! With classics like Herbert’s Dune and LeGuin’s The Dispossessed, science fiction and fantasy writing have a long history of engaging with the many political and social structures that govern (or could govern) us. Among contemporary writers, science fiction and fantasy literature remains a place to dream wild dreams and shout warnings of our nightmares, with writers like Arkady Martine, R.F. Kuang, Tobias Buckell, Tomi Adeyemi, and NK Jemisin all chiming in. And for good reason! These imagined tales have provided not just warnings, but also a language for protest (think recent imagery of red-robed Handmaids referencing Margaret Atwood’s classic), and a foundation for change and movement work, as in the work of adrienne marie brown’s Emergent Strategy Ideation Institute, inspired by Octavia Butler’s Parables novels.
In this seminar, we’ll consider the power of SFF to tap into the political—overtly or not—from bright-eyed utopias, dystopias that feel all-too-real, and the complicated, nuanced in-between. We’ll discuss how to move our ideas beyond flat portraits of pseudo-feudalism or simplistic totalitarian schemes—and how to bring readers along with us. We’ll discover tips for developing grounded political and social systems in created worlds, using techniques like juxtaposition, exaggeration, remembrance, and invention to explore the big ideas we’re eager to sink our teeth into without biting off more than we can chew. Through contemporary craft examples and tailored exercises, we’ll work towards crafting stories that implicitly or explicitly render visible the structures of our own world to become—in LeGuin’s words—“realists of a larger reality.”
This class will take place using Zoom videoconferencing. About 15 minutes before your class is scheduled to begin, you'll receive an email from your instructor with a link to join the class meeting!
Thanks to the excellent literary citizenship of our donors, scholarships are available for all GrubStreet classes. To apply, click the gray "APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP" button. In order to be considered for a scholarship, you must complete your application at least one week before the start date of a class. Please await our scholarship committee's decision before registering for the class. We cannot hold spots in classes, so the sooner you apply, the better. Scholarships cannot be applied retroactively.
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