Author visit to Science Fiction and Philosophy course

Author visit to Science Fiction and Philosophy course

Academic Year:
2015 - 2016 (June 1, 2015 through May 31, 2016)
Funding Requested:
$500.00
Project Dates:
-
Applicant(s):
Chair Uniqname:
Overview of the Project:
I propose to bring award-winning science fiction author Ted Chiang to Michigan, to discuss his story "Liking What You See: A Documentary" with my students in PHIL 154: Science Fiction and Philosophy. The story examines ethical issues surrounding discrimination on the basis of appearance, or "lookism," by imagining a future in which people can be treated to become blind to the traits we commonly perceive as attractive. A college campus is shaken by debates over whether to make this treatment mandatory for students. Chiang and I plan to lead a Q&A session in which students will examine and criticize his thoughts about lookism, its parallels with other forms of discrimination such as racism and sexism, and also the role of philosophy in his creative process while writing the story.
Final Report Fields
Project Objectives:
To begin a tradition of Q&A visits from philosophically sophisticated authors in Philosophy 154: Science Fiction and Philosophy. To connect students with the philosophical thinking of Ted Chiang, on the subject of looks-based discrimination and inequality. To acquaint students with the ways that philosophy entered into Chiang's writing process in his story "Liking What You See"
Project Achievements:
Chiang's Q&A with the students was successful and very in-depth. The video recording of the Q&A will allow me to use it for instruction when I teach this reading to future students in future semesters. I was also able to arrange several meals which exposed our graduate students to Chiang and his ideas. This was one of the most enriching parts of the visit. Additionally, I have confirmed that author visits are a useful instructional tool which should be used in future semesters.
Continuation:
Next academic year, author Nancy Kress will be visiting PHIL 154 to discuss the philosophical ideas behind her story "Beggars in Spain."
Dissemination:
The video of the Q&A will allow me to share the Q&A with colleagues as well as students.