Sunday, July 22, 2012

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

Tomorrow, I will start a 10 week free internet course on Science Fiction and Fantasy literature offered by Coursera. This will be a fantastic opportunity to interact with people around the world and discuss the importance of speculative fiction for portraying certain types of ideas. The class dovetails nicely with the book I just finished, Fantasy Media in the Classroom, edited by Emily Dial-Driver. Although I already knew that fantasy and science fiction could be rich with portrayals of the human state--in the past, present, and possible future, I was really impressed at some of the ideas in that book. 

I was particularly impressed by a fusion class described in one of Dial-Driver's essays. She included serious literature such as Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning and Zimbardo’s Lucifer Effect—books which describe motives for unsavory behavior. She supplemented those with fantasy media such as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the BBC miniseries Jekyll, the short video Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog and Wells' The Invisible Man. All of these fantasy works are about grey moral choices, reasons behind these choices, and consequences of these choices. The professor incorporated lessons learned from Frankl and Zimbardo while studying these fantasy works. 

As I was reading that, I wished that I could have taken such an interesting class. Just as I was finishing up that book, I found out about this Coursera course, so I decided to give it a try. (If I want, I can always add some fusion on my own.) :) I am not allowed to post "solutions to homework and quizzes," but I find nothing wrong with posting my own short essays on my blog for your reading pleasure--so I will be including commentary on the course materials as I proceed. In the end, I will receive a letter grade (participation based) and a certificate signed by the instructor (yea!), Eric S. Rabkin.


  1. Good day Rachel, I'm auditing the same course so I won't be writing the essays or joining in on the forums but I am maintaining a blog about my thoughts as I read through the books and follow the videos. I've bookmarked your blog and will be back to see what your thoughts are and to read your other posts because it looks a very interesting site. If you're interested in coming over you can find my general blog at and the course site at

  2. Thanks for stopping by Alex. I checked out your blog and it looks pretty interesting. I'll keep an eye on it. :)

  3. Hey Rachel! I'm glad to have found your blog, as I am also taking Rabkin's course! I will love to read a biomedic's take on our readings!

    Here is the blog I've started about the course:


What do you think? I love getting comments!