American Lit: Octavia’s Brood: Sci-Fi Stories From Social Justice Movements (elizabeth ortega)

Note: This class is open to high school students only.

Read 25 short stories written by 20 different authors inspired by Octavia Butler, including one written by the South Seattle musician, writer, and hip hop artist Gabriel Teodros. (I’m going to work on having him come as a guest speaker.)

Celebrate diverse voices and stories.

Dive into the blended world of sci-fi and social justice. 

Engage in rich discussion about how to envision and build the world you want to see.

This will be a read-aloud and discussion class. There will also be short writing assignments along the way to practice diving deeper into content and themes.

Octavia’s Brood, exists in part to redress a historical bias toward white male writers. In the 1960s, a poll to find the greatest science fiction novel of all time featured not a single female author… Science fiction “has responded to minority writers as society has responded- slowly.” This is thanks in no small part to the female African-American science fiction pioneer Octavia E. Butler who is commemorated in the title of the anthology. Specifically, the editors name-check the “Octavia Butler scholarship, an Octavia E. Butler Legacy Network, and all the work the Carl Brandon Society has been doing since 1997” as examples of science fiction’s slow progress toward equality across barriers of gender, race, and sexuality, of which Octavia’s Brood forms a part.

“[Questions of social justice] have deep roots in history and they are our responsibility to figure out with more focused attention than a sensationalized 24 hour news cycle allows. We chose to collect short stories that could be read quickly but ask important questions that stick with our readers. Where is home? What is justice? What makes life worth living and fighting for?” Speculative fiction interrogates current societal values through its portrayal of alternative paradigms and social structures, and the editors feel that traditional narratives allow for these complex parallels to be developed to their fullest.”

–Excerpts from an interview with the editors, Walidah Imarisha and Adrienne Maree Brown

 

 

Required texts/materials:

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