Teens and Technology

Next semester, AboutSF Volunteer Coordinator Mackenzie is embarking on a new teaching discovery! I'll be teaching an introduction to fiction course titled "Teens and Technology" here at KU. While my students will mostly be out of their teens, we will be reading several SF books marketed specifically at Young Adults to discover the relationship teens have with our changing technologies. Click here to read what I'll be up to and stay tuned as I share my syllabus, experiences, and classroom activities.

Teens and Technology: Who Should We Be in the Future?

As adolescents, we all struggle with issues of identity, acceptance, and coming to grips with the world around us. As we mature and develop, our experiences as adolescents continue to shape ourselves and the world around us. YA science fiction is just one type of literature that grapples with these tough issues. What makes science fiction unique in that it allows us to explore ourselves and our world through characters who, like us, have grown up in a world where the
technologies available to them have dramatically altered their experience. Like many adolescents, the characters can feel as though they are aliens, excluded from normal social interactions, or as mere robots, not treated with the respect others give to humans. This course will investigate the themes in science fiction and adolescent literature and examine the relationship between them and their relation to the drastic changes in technology we face. Our goal will be to understand how both a focus on science and a focus on children can help us understand our changing technological world and how we will change as a species.

Writing Assignments:

Weekly responses: short essay responding to the required reading
Midterm project: present on a theme/issue in YA or SF (will help classmates see options for final researched essay), write a short, researched essay about the theme/issue
Creative group project : Imagine a technology that would change the future. What would
it look like? How would it change the way people interact? How would it change us?
(Board game/Public Service Announcement(PSA)/video/website/creative writing piece/artistic rendering etc. with rationale and presentation)
Researched essay: Select a book we haven’t read for class and examine the relationship between the young adult themes and the technologies presented. Is the technology presented accurate/available in the book? What is the current state of this technology? Is the response by characters to this technology believable? Why or why not? (Research on technology, fiction with similar themes/tech, and human behavior will be expected.)

Preliminary Book List:(not in order)

-Excerpts from Frankenstein and Dracula
-Short stories TBD
-The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells
-The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
-The Giver by Lois Lowry
-Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress
-A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
-Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
-Feed by M.T. Anderson
-Shade's Children by Garth Nix
-Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor
-Flight by Sherman Alexie
-The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I'll be updating this over our winter break with my full syllabus, writing assignments, and other documents. Stay tuned for more!