Movie posters from left to right: Metropolis (1927), Planet of the Apes (1968), and The Matrix (1999)

The Uses of Science Fiction, Part One: Imagining the Future


This course was available in the past and may be presented again as part of the Open Enrollment curriculum.

Where are we headed? Will our long history of short-sighted choices decimate the planet and leave the few who survive in a wasteland? Or will developments in technology bring about a near-mastery of circumstances and contingency? Which scares you more? What else might happen, and how well would we handle it? In this course we will discuss films ranging from Metropolis to Planet of the Apes, from Mad Max and Brazil to The Matrix and Children of Men, thinking in each case about what these visions of the future seem to imply or ask about our condition in the present.

Sequels to this course entitled “Part Two: Encountering the Alien” and “Part Three: Versions of the Human” will be offered in Winter and Spring; but all courses in the series are free-standing, and students are welcome to sign up for as many or as few as they like.

Course Outline

Course Syllabus

There are no printed texts for the course. Films are listed in the Course Syllabus.

All movies are available to stream on multiple platforms and should be viewed before the class session in which they are to be discussed. 

Please watch Metropolis at least once before our first class meeting.  It is available for free on Kanopy, using a public library account, and also on Internet Archive:

If for some reason neither of those options works for you, several additional sites are listed here:

Regardless of where you chose to watch the movie, please ensure that it is the fully restored or "complete" print (running time 2 hrs 28 min).


Online registration deadline: Thursday, Sept 22 at 5 PM CT.

No class Nov 22