LSTD 2700 – Cinematic Oracles: The Futurology Within Science Fiction Films
When you hear the word oracle, what comes to mind? Perhaps you think of the riveting scene in the movie 300, where a young woman thrashes around on the ground while interpreting for the gods. In fact, for many cultures throughout time, civilizations have elevated and honored the oracles, revering them as the mouthpieces of the divine. Today, another oracle has risen to popularity—the science fiction film.
Technological development and social evolution have been occurring at an accelerated rate since the beginning of human civilization. As these technologies begin to play a more important role in our daily lives, science fiction films have often served as mirrors of the present and cautionary windows into the future—oracles in their own right. Through the analysis of eight science fiction films, Cinematic Oracles: The Futurology within Science Fiction Films submerges students into the fundamentals of film study, futurology and pressing issues facing humanity, promoting lifelong learning by prompting you to critically examine the future of the human species.
The class uses popular films like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Minority Report, Jurassic Park and Children of Men, among others, to invite students to develop curiosity and critical thought about some of the most revolutionary advances of our time. Although the course briefly covers basic fundamentals of film study, the primary focus is on the films’ core themes and concepts: topics like artificial intelligence, nuclear weapons, mass surveillance, biological and genetic engineering, corporate-military leadership, refugee crises, societal structure and family evolution. While much of the subject matter can be dark and potentially depressing, students are encouraged to approach this course with a sense of humor and open-mindedness. It is important to remember that science fiction shows what could happen, but not always what will.
Other subjects within the selected films, readings and videos include space travel, the future of criminal justice and mass media. This is a particularly great course for students who already have an interest in science fiction, futurology or the pressing issues facing our society. In fact, the class is designed to develop those interests even further and promote critical thinking about these topics! Ultimately, students walk away from Cinematic Oracles with an ability to understand the application of how science fiction has married real-life scientific and technological advances with critically-pressing, hypothesized issues that face the human race.
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