Saturday, January 31, 2009

Reading Mars for an M.Phil in Popular Literature

According to an inactive blog about the M.Phil in Popular Literature at Trinity College Dublin, one of the courses offered back in 2007 was titled
"Mapping the Myths of Mars". Taught by Dr. Kate Hebblethwaite, here’s a description of that course:

“Both the nearest and most comparable planet in the solar system, yet so far unconquered by man, Mars shares an uneasy brotherhood with the Earth: remote, aloof, and until relatively recently, impenetrable except by terrestrial telescope. The scope for imaginative licence in representations of the planet has thus been limited solely by the gradual and intermittent scientific revelations about it. The examination of popular fiction's utilisation of Mars as a narrative location is therefore significant for the opportunity it offers authors to work with a conveniently isolated environment. An unchanging virgin world on which the projection of popular ideas and social criticism is the prerogative of the author alone, fictional representations of Mars are unique in the oppotunity they afford for the critical examination of changing cultural influences and concerns in popular literature.”

And here were the course’s "primary texts":

The War of the Worlds (1898), by H. G. Wells

A Princess of Mars (1917), by Edgar Rice Burroughs

The War of the Worlds (1938), radio script by Howard Koch

The Martian Chronicles (1950), by Ray Bradbury

Martian Time-Slip (1964), by Philip K. Dick

Man Plus (1976), by Frederick Pohl

Farewell Earth's Bliss (1972), by D.G. Compton

Blade Runner (1982), film directed by Ridley Scott

The Mars Mystery (1998), by Graham Hancock

The Martian Race (1999), by Gregory Benford

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. II (2003), by Allan Moore & Kevin O'Neill

The War of the Worlds (2005), film directed by Stephen Spielberg

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