Beal combines science fiction and literature

Jane Beal, associate professor of English, speaks about her method of teaching a FLEX class focused on sci-fi literature Tuesday in the Executive Dining Room. Beal incorporates science fiction and fantasy into real life scenarios. Beal’s specialty is medieval and modern English literature. / photo by Katelyn Keeling
Jane Beal, associate professor of English, speaks about her method of teaching a FLEX class focused on sci-fi literature Tuesday in the Executive Dining Room. Beal incorporates science fiction and fantasy into real life scenarios. Beal’s specialty is medieval and modern English literature. / photo by Katelyn Keeling

Jane Beal, associate professor of English, shared how she connected science fiction and fantasy to real-life situations in her FLEX class, Tuesday in the Executive Dining Room.

The books and films analyzed in the course ultimately teach the themes of psychological depth, cultural criticism, technological progress, and philosophical issues, Beal said.

Beal said she decided to end the course with the popular apocalypse film “I Am Legend.”

The class began by discussing that the idea of the zombie originates in Haiti, its linkage to voodoo, and the reanimation of dead bodies under another’s control, Beal said.

“It can be interpreted as a cultural response to slavery,” Beal said. “The fear that if you die, you will still be under someone else’s control and the desire to be free from that is evident in the film.”

She said the zombies in the film are a symbol for the destructive reality of racism.

“This was without a doubt the most powerful night of the class,” Beal said.

“The course objectives included … understanding of common ideas, such as the butterfly effect, dystopia, utopia, time travel, ultimate universes, aliens, an apocalypse,” Beal said.

Kate Correnti, freshmen music major, also attended Beal’s lecture, and said she enjoyed how Beal connected real life problems to science fiction in her course.

“I would definitely love to take this course with Professor Beal,” Corrennti said.

–Natalie Gutiérrez

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