Thursday, March 26, 2009

A New Honors Seminar

Well, Friday is the workshop for Senior Teachers, as well as the info-session for would-be senior teachers, and this has me thinking: If I were going to propose an Honors seminar, what would it be?

Working Title: Time Travel and the Angst of Humanity
Time travel pervades our literature, our cinema, our music, our art, and our fantasies. As a reader, writer, and movie fanatic, I find I have an insatiable appetite for this particular topic. Judging by the extraordinary popularity of so many time travel books and movies, I am inclined to think I'm not the only one. In class we could feed our imagination on sumptuous texts like Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Dickens' A Christmas Carol, H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, Clarke's Time's Arrow, Rafferty's Rainbird, and so many other amazing authors like Ursula K. Le Guin, L. Sprague de Camp, John Kessel, Connie Willis; on and on the list goes. We could gorge on discussions about the physics and mathematics of time travel theory: from wormholes to cosmic strings; from special relativity to the speed of light. We might snack on the theories of Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan. We could nibble the current research and actual experiments conducted by experts like Lijun Wang or Günter Nimtz. And most importantly, we should indulge our hungry eyes with the wonders of films like Back to the Future, Groundhog Day, Somewhere in Time, A Sound of Thunder, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, Flight of the Navigator, The Philidelphia Experiment, Les Visiteurs (my all-time favorite and all-time-awful Jean Reno movie), or Planet of the Apes, La Jetée, Time After Time, and Primer. Our futuristic feast would not be complete with TV series like "Buck Rogers," "Dr. Who," "Land of the Lost," "Quantum Leap," "Futurama," which deal exclusively with time travel, and others like “The Simpsons,” which just dabble in its possibilities. And for dessert, we must have Star Trek and Star Wars!
Whether we move forwards or backwards, by centuries or by seconds, time travel is a means of releasing the angst of mankind; our preoccupation with consequences; our yearning for lost eras; and our desire to know the unknown.
What else would you add to this time-travel banquet? What class would you teach?


maximalideal said...

Sounds like a lot of fun, and kind of hard to pare down. My vote is for heavy representation of Bill and Ted's, Doctor Who, Star Trek, Futurama, and Lost. If you're going to do La Jetee, it's hard to imagine not also throwing in Vertigo and 12 Monkeys. Some of my favorite time travel moments:
Futurama: Fry did what everyone says not to do and kills his grandfather, and sleeps with his grandmother, promptly becoming his own grandfather and grossing everyone out.
Bill and Ted's: Bill and Ted can do anything as long as they remind themselves to, at a later date, go back in time to do it, e.g. Ted really does take his dad's keys.
Back to the Future: Why doesn't Marty's dad become hyper-jealous when his first son turns out to look a lot like the guy that briefly dated his wife in high school?

drldonovan said...

This would be a fabulous class! My preference would, of course, be heavy on the Star Trek, but agree that 12 Monkeys would be great. I'd add Quantum Leap as well as maybe some Twilight Zone-- both of which would give a bit different spin on the concept of time. Also, there was a failed TV show about a year ago that was called Journeyman that would fit.