Since its beginnings, science fiction has served as an intellectual playground where pressing issues such as scientific and technological progress, population growth, nuclear power, environmental protection, or genetic engineering have been projected onto different times and spaces in order to warn about inherent dangers, offer solutions, or to simply speculate about and experiment with the future. In the summer term of 2009, students from the University of Göttingen and the University of Siegen participated in two parallel courses entitled “Of Body Snatchers and Cyberpunks: American Science Fiction Film from the 1950s to the Present” and met for an undergraduate conference in Göttingen where they presented and discussed their research on American science fiction film together with Eric S. Rabkin, professor at the University of Michigan (USA) and an international expert in the field. The result of this project is the present volume of twelve student essays that were first presented at the conference, and then selected and revised for publication. Considering science fiction film as an essential element of American popular culture, the essays analyze and discuss the films Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Siegel, 1956), 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968), Soylent Green (Fleischer, 1973), The Matrix (Wachowski, 1999), and Minority Report (Spielberg, 2002) against the background of social, political, cultural, and/or ecological developments in their contemporary U.S. societies. The introductory essay outlines the theoretical, methodological, and didactic considerations that informed the planning and teaching processes of the course format and the conference. The collection also features an autobiographical essay by Eric S. Rabkin in which he reflects on his personal experiences and lifelong fascination with science fiction films.
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