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Back to the Future: Classics and Science Fiction is a Course

Back to the Future: Classics and Science Fiction

Started Oct 5, 2020


Full course description

Course Date:





4+ hrs/week



Course Type:





The past is an alien planet. Just as the other worlds and speculative futures of science fiction reflect on our present through their similarities to and radical differences from our world, so too do the literature, mythology, and thought of ancient Greece and Rome. This course pairs the Greek and Roman classics with works of modern science fiction to explore a range of crucial contemporary topics. These topics include social and ecological issues such as technology, ecological catastrophe, empire, race, and gender. Students will receive training in intertextuality, reception studies, and the ways in which the cultural output of the classical past continues to shape our modern world.


At the end of this course, you’ll be able to:

  • Draw and discuss connections between science fiction as a genre and ancient literary genres.
  • Bring the treatment of themes such as empire, identity, technology, ecology, gender, and aesthetics in ancient literature and modern science fiction to bear on our contemporary present.
  • Discuss science fiction’s complex relationships to the literary, political, and biological past.
  • Use the methods of intertextuality and classical reception studies to analyze relationships between ancient and modern texts.
  • Pass a Turing Test.

Target Audience: Primarily college students, some high school students, some lifelong learners.

Course is offered by Hamilton College.

Course Instructors

Jesse Weiner

Jesse Weiner

Assistant Professor of Classics, Hamilton College

Jesse Weiner is Assistant Professor of Classics at Hamilton College, USA. He holds a PhD in Classics from the University of California, Irvine and a BA in Classics from New College of Florida. He is co-editor of Frankenstein and Its Classics: The Modern Prometheus from Antiquity to Science Fiction (Bloomsbury, 2018).

Samuel Cooper

Samuel Cooper

Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature, American University in Cairo

Samuel Cooper is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at the American University in Cairo. He received his PhD in Classics from Princeton University and his BA in Classical Languages and Mathematics from Vanderbilt University.


Sign up for this course today!