Science Fiction and Fantasy

The Hugo Awards are named after Hugo Gernsback, who coined the term “science fiction” in 1926 while publishing Amazing Stories, the first magazine devoted solely to science fiction. The origin of the genre we call “science fiction” is more open to debate, but it arguably predates Gernsback’s term by two centuries. In this class, we will study the prehistory of science fiction in Britain and America, focusing most of our attention on nineteenth- and early twentieth-century texts such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), and H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine (1895). We will also explore the key role that children’s writers such as Mark Twain, Edith Nesbit, and L. Frank Baum played in popularizing speculative fiction.