This article explores how to use science fiction, particularly texts centered on android protagonists, to open up discussions of marginalization, race, and oppression in the introductory literature classroom. In response to the hateful rhetoric directed toward asylum seekers, this author developed an entire course around personhood and rights. She first examines how, in particular sci-fi works, paranoia and prejudice compel citizens to delineate between kinds of personhood. She then illuminates how students were invited to make parallels between the othering that the androids endure and historical and present-day examples of human rights abuses. After a semester of examining and debating these issues, students selected an android or robot in a television show, film, or video game of their choice and first assessed how the android’s personhood was delimited by human and then articulated why humans placed these boundaries on the android. Throughout the article, the author explains the kinds of texts she used for the course, the assignment students were tasked with, and how the course broached other issues of power dynamics, such as consent and disability rights.
Locating Empathy: Using Android Protagonists to Teach Oppression and Marginalization
Emily Hall is a lecturer of English at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she teaches courses in composition and literature. Her pedagogy encourages cultural criticism and social activism. Her research on twenty-first-century fiction and digitization has appeared in Reception and is forthcoming in South Atlantic Review.
Emily Hall; Locating Empathy: Using Android Protagonists to Teach Oppression and Marginalization. Pedagogy 1 October 2019; 19 (3): 551–558. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15314200-7615570
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