ST. JOHN'S COLLEGE HIGH SCHOOL
DR. RAYMOND NIGHAN
Traditionally, science fiction has had a bad press, and much of it is deserved--aliens land, attack the world, the military cant defeat them, but the scientist whose beautiful assistant never stops encouraging him, finds a solution, the aliens are history, and we all live happily ever after. Thus writers are often viewed as hacks, offering little more than glitzy special effects--until Star Trek.
In his The World of Star Trek, David Gerrold (The Trouble with Tribbles) noted that good science fiction must conform to the same dramatic rules that Shakespeare used, and in The Making of Star Trek (Whitfield and Roddenberry) rejected the notion that, ...science fiction is an entirely separate branch of literature in which the basic rules of drama do not apply. So much to the consternation of NBC, Roddenberry offered a more sophisticated challenge. Believing that science fiction could and should be literate and mimetic (Aristotle), he proposed to illuminate issues vital to the human condition by dramatizing them on different planets, those mostly part of a Federation. After all that is what all good literature does well.
Ironically, the vision seemed short lived as TOS was canceled after only three season (1966 to 1969), with the third season airing only due to a massive write-in compaign organized by a fan, Bjo Trimble. So be it until syndication, when a new generation beamed aboard rerun style, and, (according to the Star Trek Next Generation Companion , lightning did Strike twice, and TNG ran from 1987 to 1994 more than doubling the length of TOS. DS-9 enjoyed a seven year run, as did Voyager, and the newest series, Enterprise, which takes us to the founding of the Federation before Captain Kirk, has just completed a successful second season, (2002-2003). My reviews of each episode are on the course's web site's home page. Additionally, nine movies from 1979 to 1998 have been made with a tenth (Star Trek Nemesis opens in December, 2002). production, and the annual conventions attract thousands. Star Treks creator, Gene Roddenberry, a decorated W.W.II veteran, LAPD officer, and television writer imagined a universe based on --Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combination, (IDIC), a philosophy promoting a utopian vision of harmony and tolerance; he believed We could get along and must to survive.
NO OTHER PROGRAM IN THE HISTORY OF TELEVISION CAN RIVAL RODDENBERRYS ACCOMPLISHMENT, AND THIS COURSE WILL EXPLORE HIS ACHIEVEMENT AND ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR THE NEXT CENTURY.
Tapes for the five series including Enterprise, movies and documentary specials are available for your viewing.
Books: and the Course Web site:
Web site: questions on the history of science fiction (and film), and Roddenberry's HUMANIST MAGAZINE INTERVIEW which outlines his creative philosophy.
Porter, Jennifer and Darcee Mclaren (eds.). Star Trek and Sacred Ground. Exploration of Star Trek, Religion and American Culture. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1999.
INSTRUCTOR MATERIALS--to be provided
These references will be supplemented by readings that served as inspiration for the classic episodes. Authors from Homer to Aristotle and Plato; from Shakespeare to Swift, Milton, Shelley and Tolkien will be consulted as needed. Print and online copies will be made available.
Recommended for research:
The Star Trek Guide. Norway Productions and Paramount Television. April 17, 1967.
Bard, Judith and Ed. Robertson. The Ethics of Star Trek. New York: Harper Collins, 2000.
Disch, T. The Dreams Our Stuff is Made Of. How Science Fiction Conquered the World. N.Y.: The Free Press, 1998.
Erdmann, T. Star Trek Deep Space Nine Companion. New York: Pocket Books, 2000.
Flowers, James. The Incredible Internet Guide for Trekkers. Tempe, Az.: Facts on Demand, 2000.
Gerrold, David. The World of Star Trek. New York: Ballantine Books, 1975.
Henderson, M. Star Wars, The Magic of Myth. N.Y.: Bantam Books, 1997.
Johnson, S. Mr. Scotts Guide to the Enterprise. N.Y.: Pocket Books, 1987.
Joseph, F. Star Trek: Star Fleet Technical Manual. N.Y.: Ballantine Books, 1975.
Kraemer, Ross and William Cassidy and Susan Schwartz. The Religions of Star Trek. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 2001
Nemecek, L. The Star Trek Next Generation Companion. N.Y.: Pocket Books, 1995.
Okuda, M. and D. Okuda. Star Trek Chronology: N.Y.: Pocket Books, 1966.
Okuda, Michael and Denise Okuda. The Star Trek Encyclopedia. New York: Pocket Books, 1999
Richards, T. The Meaning of Star Trek. N.Y.: Doubleday, 1997.
Sherwin, J. Quotable Star Trek. N.Y.: Pocket books, 1999.
Star Trek. Four Generations of Stars, Stories and Strange New Worlds. TV Guide Publications, 1995.
Tolkien, JRR. The Tolkien Reader. N.Y.: Ballantine Books, 1966.
Trimble, BJo. Star Trek Concordance. N.Y.: Ballantine Books, 1976.
The outline of theprimary text will be followed as posted on the web site, and key episodes will be shown:
Usually for each chapter, episodes will be viewed which are discussed in the text. Watching is required.
You are expected to complete the assigned readings in these books and others reading / viewing assignments when posted.
1--I DON'T KNOW STAR TREK AS A SERIES.
2--WHY NOT STAR WARS?
3--WHAT ABOUT THE ADJUNCT READING?
Each work will be covered in terms of:
1--presentation of relevant philosophical, literary, mythological and historical material (Do not forget the summer reading project: SOPHIES WORLD has enormous value for this course and will be referenced.]
2--Assignment of the reading / viewing from the above list in the order presented
3--discussion of the films in relation to the material that inspired them. CLASS POLICY ON VIEWING: WATCHING THE EPISODES IS PART OF THE COURSE'S LEARNING EXPERIENCE AS FOLLOWED:
- Viewing does not take the place of reading the text
- Watching the episodes carefully and being able to discuss them is
important. They are not meant as free time, or time off, but are shown
to illustrate the concepts discussed the way a lab experiment in a science
class is designed to sustain or revise a hypothesis. Knowing their content
- If you know episodes not viewed, feel free to discuss them.
- IF YOU ARE LATE, ABSENT AND MISS PART OR ALL OF AN EPISODE, ARRANGE WITH THE INSTRUCTOR TO MAKE UP THE VIEWING--THIS IS REQUIRED.
There will be two or three essay tests per quarter that will be announced. Quizzes may or may not be announced, and can be given at any time--frequency will depend on how the reading / discussions progress. Guidelines for taking tests successfully in this course are on line.
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE SENIOR THESIS IS NOW A FIRST SEMESTER REQUIREMENT--WE WILL WORK ON ITS SPECIFICS--DUE DATES ARE ON LINE: THE PAPER MUST BE PASSED WITH A GRADE OF C AS A GRADUATION REQUIREMENT. WORK NOT IN COMPLIANCE WILL BE REVISED IN THE THIRD QUARTER. CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS
1--tests--Two per quarter worth 20% of the quarter grade--all tests are essays
2--quizzes --25% of the quarter grade--short answer--frequency depends on how you are keeping up, including the readings as noted above..
3--class work (attention, participation, bringing materials, and careful attention to viewing and knowing the episodes etc.) -30% of the quarter grade
4--written assignments, papers etc. worth 25% of the quarter grade--ALL PAPERS /SENIOR THESIS WORK WILL BE SUBMITTED ELECTRONICALLY--instructions to be provided.
5--the final examination is worth 20% of the course grade.
You must check HOMEWORK CENTRAL BY 4:00 PM DAILY for this class as needed for assignments. Absence is thus not an excuse for missing work.
Work submitted late may have no points off, some deducted or not accepted at all depending on the circumstances. If a paper is late due to computer problems, Mr. Colvin may be consulted. I am in the computer center daily after school until 4 PM for help.
Attendance / Lateness:
Any student who has been absent from a single class for ten (10) or more days during a semester or twenty (20) days for the entire year, will receive an Incomplete for the year and will be required to retake the class in summer school.
See the School Handbook for late policies.
Making up missed work--you must make up work the first day back to school if you miss a quiz or test in room 102 before school. There are some exceptions--see the instructions on line for a detailed explanation.