Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World

Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World

Free

This course is available On demand

This course is provided by Coursera Coursera
Average Content rating
9/10 stars
based on  29 reviews
Average Instructor rating
7/10 stars
based on  1 review
Average Provider rating
9/10 stars
based on  4028 reviews

Course Description

Instructors:  Eric Rabkin
School:  University of Michigan
We understand the world — and our selves — through stories. Then some of those hopes and fears become the world.

29 Reviews for Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World

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Laura MacNeil profile image
Student rates this course 10/10 stars Completed
I definitely improved and enhanced my knowledge of key texts and themes in these 2 genres. I found the time commitment quite high - the reading varied in length from week to week and some weeks I was struggling to get the reading and essay done in time. All in all however the course was well paces, full of great insights and information and thoroughly enjoyable!
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Tracey T profile image
Student rates this course 5/10 stars Completed
I'm in the final week of the course, and will earn a certificate of accomplishment. Overall, I've learned from the combination of Rabkin's lectures, the reading, and the requirement to write brief (320 word) essays. Each week Rabkin assigns a full book to read, along with the required essay (8 of 10 required for a statement of accomplishment), and 5 peer reviews (30-150 words on form and content for each essay). The video lectures (about 90 minutes of listening time, which can be reduced by speeding up playback) are topical and engaging, though a few contain factual errors about the stories. Unlike some professors (Al Fireis in Modern & Contemporary American Poetry), Rabkin shows no desire to interact with students, never participates in forum discussion, has no live webinars, and hasn't updated his lectures for a few years. However, if you want to approach fantasy and science fiction on a deeper level, his lectures will show you new insights into the work, and if you apply that level of reading to your own essays, you will gain a lot more from your reading. Peer reviews are, as expected from Coursera, a very mixed bag. They're rarely that insightful, in my experience. The essays you're required to grade are often poorly written, cobbled together work, frequently from students for whom English is a second or third language. While it's admirable that they're attempting the work, the time required to puzzle through the writing and the lack of insights most give to the reading, made peer review grading (for me) the absolutely biggest time waster and useless part of the course. One of the biggest negative surprises for me (and many others, based on forums postings) was the grading "scheme" for essays. There is a 3 point scale for form and content. Rabkin, the professor, states that a score of "2" on form and content means "successful" and that the essay is "smoothly written." But we all learned this week - at the END of the course - that awarding a "2" in the class's scoring scheme actually was the equivalent of a "D" - because a "2" in form and "2" in content gave you a "4" for the essay, or a 66% (a "D"). Most students in the class got scores below 80% because of the instructions in how to score. And despite emails to the professor during and after the class, he never responded. TA's that participated in the class stated that they had never had any contact with the professor. SO ... take it if you want to push yourself to read science fiction literature, and if you can learn from lectures and apply those to your own writing, but don't expect valuable peer feedback in general, and know that the scoring will give you a high likelihood of a low Coursera grade. On the plus side, no one in the entire market economy is going to give you a job or fire you because of a Coursera score.
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ShloEmi Ohayon profile image
Student rates this course 10/10 stars Completed
Outstanding, enriching, enlightening course IMO. I relay enjoyed each week topic and getting the insights. The lectures are well presented pointing very interesting points. The topics are well selected giving understanding of the fundamentals of SciFi & Fantasy. Bottom line - If you love SciFi & Fantasy, I highly recommend taking this course, you'll probably to see it in a very different way when the course ends.
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Inese Okonova profile image
Student rates this course 8/10 stars Completed
The large workload is due to the reading list. Enjoyable course. Requires a lot of self-discipline. But weekly peer reviews are worthy and . interesting. Recommend.
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Ashrujit Bhattacharjee profile image
Student rates this course 10/10 stars Completed
A very good course that makes you read, write and evaluate others. Do not take it unless you are able to give it priority and make some time for it over ten weeks. The lectures are superb, and the syllabus is wide-ranging. I enjoyed this course.
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Robyn Nussbaum profile image
Student rates this course 10/10 stars Taking Now
This is my first experience with Coursera. I graduated from college with a BBA in Finance back in 2004, so it has been a while since I've taken a college class and I'm not sure if I will ever make it to grad school. Additionally, this is my first experience with an online course since they weren't quite so mainstream when I was in college. I've always loved reading, literature, and science fiction and fantasy. I've been looking for a good online book club for a while, so when I discovered this class on Coursera, I thought it would be great for me. The class has definately exceeded my expectations. I have learned so much not only from Professor Rabkin, but from other students on the forums and through the peer reviews. Being a full-time working mom, I normally don't spare a lot of time for reading, but this class has made me read more books in the 11 weeks than I sometimes read in a year. It is definately time consuming and I am currently sacrificing precious Christmas crocheting time to finish the course up. It has certainly been worth it though. Professor Rabkin's lectures are amazing and insightful. It really feels like he is speaking directly to me. I'm sad that this class is coming to an end. If I had any suggestions, I think it would have been nice to have spent an extra week on the Dracula unit. It was the longest work of the course and there was so much to analyze. It was my favorite book of the course, so I may go back and re-read it at some point. This course has given me everything and more that I wanted - exposure to books I wouldn't have normally read, and a challenge. I think it would be neat to see it offered again, but with a different selection of readings. I would definately do it again. Also, I think it would be neat if Professor Rabkin could compile a list of recommended books at the end of the course so we can further our knowledge of this genre.
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Andrew Feltham profile image
Student rates this course 8/10 stars Completed
The very engaging lectures and on screen persona by the Professor ensured that working on the course didn't feel a lonely experience. The depth of insight into a genre of literature was truly enriching. Peer interaction was intensive and useful. On my session there was no direct engagement by course staff on the forums, nonetheless the course had so many motivated and some very competent students that with the excellent course material, a good educational experience was achieved. As with any MOOC, meeting peers online can be a varied experience so ensure to read the forum guidelines, follow the good and useful, and ignore the occasional impoliteness. Allow enough time for reading especially if English is a second language, preferably read the books ahead of the course and re-read parts for the course. Great course! Thanks Professor and team!
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Tracy Poff profile image
Student rates this course 9/10 stars Completed
Perhaps the most excellent part of this course was simply that it forced me to read a fair bit of interesting fiction quickly, while thinking about it carefully. The weekly assignments were to write very brief essays that would enrich the learning of other students, so while reading I was always on the look-out for interesting themes or other insights that might be worth sharing with others. Not a bad state of mind to be in! The discussions in the forums were extremely interesting. Rather like discussions on book reviews, but much more focused on deeper analysis of the text. I'd love to participate in similar forums in the future--like a very engaged book club. As for the lectures: they were definitely interesting, and sometimes enlightening. Many times, I felt that Prof. Rabkin was going a bit far in his analyses--it was a favorite tactic of his to give any scene in any book some sexual interpretation, which was sometimes warranted, but often seemed not to be. However, given the nature of the course, it was not necessary to agree with the professor's interpretations, so there was no harm in it. I'd recommend this course to anyone with an interest in reading and writing about science fiction and fantasy. It's very rewarding.
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L Figueroa profile image
Student rates this course 8/10 stars Completed
Overall a great and demanding course, which forces you to read a fair amount of stimulating science fiction novels. If you finish it, it will help you in becoming a better writer. Professor Rabkin is a knowledgeable and enthusiastic lecturer who does an admirable job as guide to the relevant literature. However, the peer review process for grading the weekly essays on the reading material still has some growing pains and issues with consistency.
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Joanna profile image
Student rates this course 10/10 stars Completed
The sheer amount of reading required makes this great course difficult. I plan to take it again someday and finish it. Professor Rabkin is very engaging and his lectures are very insightful. I would love this course to be shorter, because all short MOOCs are better than the long ones.
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