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mdesjardins

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POSTS: 169

Report this Apr. 12 2011, 9:39 pm

As some of you know, I am creating a course on Star Trek (TOS) at UC Berkeley for this fall. And because I know all of you lovely people on here, I could think of no better place to get advice on my work!


So this is my course syllabus- Do you have any suggestions/comments? I took out the boring stuff about grading, but left in the general course info in case you have any additions/reforms.


 


Thank you all!


 


 


 


Book Worlds: Star Trek- Where No Man Had Gone Before


           


Course Description


Space, the final frontier…


On 8 September 1966, a television series called ‘Star Trek’ aired for the first time. It succeeded only after a long struggle- what premiered was the second pilot filmed (practically unheard of at the time), and it only arrived on America’s television sets after six years of strenuous effort on the part of its creators. ‘Star Trek’ was a low budget series on a tight schedule and it defied many contemporary standards of what a television show should be. Yet what came out of such shaky beginnings was a set of characters who grew to be beloved by millions of people all over the world, an enduringly optimistic view of the future, and an impressive array of quality science fiction stories which challenged contemporary censorship by addressing issues of race, gender, and politics. All of this, and much more, contributed to the establishment of a legacy which continues even today, forty five years after the first episode aired.


This course will evaluate some of the moral, philosophic, and literary themes of Star Trek: the Original Series (as we call it now), keeping in mind the historical context of the show and its effects on the modern world. Each week we will examine a new ideal or theme and investigate its manifestations in various episodes of the series. Class will begin with the screening of an episode of Star Trek, followed by a discussion of that episode. Afterwards, we will continue to discuss the ways the theme of the week is approached by other similar episodes, utilizing specific clips from the show and descriptions of scenarios. Literature concerning each week’s theme will be assigned the week before, and students must come to class prepare to discuss it. We will also address specific ‘morality questions’, in which students will be asked how they would respond to situations in which a decision is not clearly right or wrong, followed by a comparison of their answers to the choice made in Star Trek.


From Humanism to Horta, Socrates to Spock, and Kant to Khan, we will be adventuring through space and time to explore this greatly influential series.


 


Learning Objectives


Students will:


            Conduct analytical and interpretive discussions


                Identify philosophical and literary references and interpret their cultural meaning


                Question the morality of the series and its value to changing societies


                Examine the themes of Star Trek and its reflections on the historical time in which it was produced


 


Required Texts


All texts will be provided online or in a course reader.


Selections from:


-Deep Space and Sacred Time: Star Trek in the American Mythos, by Jon Wagner and Jan Lundeen


-Star Trek: The Making of the TV Series, by Gene Roddenberry and Stephen E. Whitfield


                -Star Trek Revealed: the Spiritual Dimension of the Original Series, by Carole Devine


                -The Best of Trek, edited by Walter Irwin and G.B. Love


                -Star Trek and Philosophy: The Wrath of Kant, edited by Jason T. Eberl and Kevin S. Decker


                -The Ethics of Star Trek, by Judith Barad, with Ed Robertson


                -Gene Roddenberry: The Last Conversation, by Yvonne Fern


                -The Republic, by Plato


 


 


Visual Texts:


            -Star Trek: The Original Series


            -Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan


            -Star Trek V: The Final Frontier


            -Star Trek IV: the Voyage Home


-How William Shatner Changed the World


            -Star Trek (2009)


 


 


Course Schedule:


 


1-Introduction


-the Making of Star Trek and birthing pains


-the ideology of the series and Gene Roddenberry’s vision


-Star Trek culture and legacy (from action figures to conventions to books to consumer merchandise)


-enduring ideals


-How William Shatner Changed the World clips – technological innovations caused by Star Trek


-overview of the course


 


2-Emotion- The Naked Time


-Spectre of the Gun


-Bread and Circuses


-Requium for Malthusala


-the Galileo Seven


-Obsession


-Return to Tomorrow (human forms and their merits)


-By Any Other Name (human forms)


-the power of human emotion; its benefits and its failures


-brotherhood and filial love- making a crew


-Spock and Vulcan nature


-is it better to be logical or emotional? Is a true balance possible? What must be sacrificed to be rational?


-secret selves; what is your secret self? What does this episode say about the TOS characters?


-what is so special about the human form, which makes aliens want to inhabit it? Is this a positive or negative trait?


-Morality: Requium for Malthusala


 


3-War- Day of the Dove


-the Savage Curtain


-A Private Little War


-A Taste of Armageddon


-Errand of Mercy


-What does it mean to have a creature that is almost always viewed as ‘evil’ (the Klingons)? How can we reconcile this?


-Can peace always be achieved? +a discussion on the nature of Star Fleet


-the Prime Directive and its purpose


-peace or annihilation; the results of war


-What happens when war becomes commonplace? How does Star Trek view death?


-Morality: A Private Little War; A Taste of Armageddon


 


4-Aliens/Race- [clips only]


-Let This Be Your Last Battlefield


-Journey to Babel


-The Gamesters of Triskelion


-Balance of Terror


-Metamorphosis (companionship with non-humanoids)


-the Man Trap


-the Arena


-Devil in the Dark


-the nature of space exploration + how do we react to what we find?


-alien cultures and their representations (are they respected?)


-‘the universal translator’ and its purpose +communications with aliens


-race in the 1960’s


-Star Trek and multiculturalism- Uhura, Sulu, Checkov, and Spock


-relationships between humans and aliens


-Morality: The Gamesters of Triskelion


 


5-Power Corrupts: Plato's Stepchildren


- Charlie X


-Space Seed


-Where No Man Has Gone Before


-Dagger of the Mind


-the Squire of Gothos


-Whom Gods Destroy


-the first interracial kiss and its context


-discussion of Plato’s Republic


-human eugenics and alien interference- man becoming God?


-human ingenuity and emotion triumph, but why?


-‘absolute power corrupts, absolutely’. Is this true?


-Captain Kirk is given a great deal of power- does he use it wisely? How does he (or doesn’t he) fit this archetype?


-justice on the Enterprise and the planets it visits


-Morality: Space Seed  


 


[film screening: The Wrath of Khan]


 


6-Sacrifice: The Empath


-The Immunity Syndrome


-Wrath of Khan (screening)


-For the Earth is Hollow and I have Touched the Sky


-the Paradise Syndrome


-the City on the Edge of Forever


-The Mark of Gideon


-the Menagerie


-self sacrifice v. the sacrifice of others (Abraham and his son // Hodin and Odona)


-is self sacrifice the most noble of acts? Spock’s death (Star Trek II and III)


-can self sacrifice be learned? (the Empath)


-Bones and Spock fighting over who will die


-what is worth dying for? Friends/family? Science?


-Kirk and the Kobyashi Maru


-an enduring legacy: ST09 and Kirk’s father


-mental/physical illness and abandoning Star Fleet; the many sacrificing themselves for the few


-sacrifice for historical/timeline continuity


-Tale of Two Cities


Morality: The Mark of Gideon/the City on the Edge of Forever


 


7-Duality/Evil- the Enemy Within


-Mirror, Mirror


-The Alternative Factor


-The Savage Curtain


-Bread and Circuses


-Whom Gods Destroy


-And the Children Shall Lead


-Space Seed/the Wrath of Khan


-man and man’s emotion: the pitfalls of it


-the duality of mankind and his thinking/feeling capability


-shapeshifters; what is it to shift shape and to deceive?


-making the familiar/innocent dangerous- children in Star Trek


-violence and man’s tendency toward it- is it inherent?


-revenge


-both sides of man will sacrifice themselves- what does this mean?


-Morality: Mirror, Mirror


 


 


8-Utopia- This Side of Paradise


-Shore Leave


-The Paradise Syndrome


-This Way to Eden


-The Return of the Archons


-the Cloud Minders (+power)


-Plato’s Stepchildren


-the Apple


-the enemy within (duality) v. the enemy without (paradise)


-utopias and dystopias


-the hippie movement / “one”


-intellectual utopias resting on the backs of ‘inferiors’


-the blind utopia and problems with it in the 23rd century


-is utopia possible? +the Enterprise’s intervention/suppression of utopias it discovers


                -and Spock’s objections- why?


-paradise uncontrolled becomes dangerous (not all desires should be made real)


-Morality: The Return of the Archons


 


9-Technology- The Ultimate Computer


-Court Martial


-The Doomsday Machine


-The Changeling


-The Wink of an Eye


-What Are Little Girls Made Of?
-I, Mudd


- Requium for Malthusala


-the role of technology in 23rd century life / in 21st century life


-‘find and sterilize imperfection’; Nomad and the technological/alien view of humankind


-androids; can they feel love? Does it change the relationship? What does robot companionship mean? Does it relate to alien companionship?


-logic v. emotion; who wins? Should we trust our computers? What happens when we become our computers?


-the Borg of TNG + Data


-what happens when we trust ‘infallible’ computers over men?


-the Enterprise as a character [the Naked Time?]


Morality: Court Martial


 


10-Beauty/Women- Mudd's Women


-Is There In Truth No Beauty?


-'And the Children Shall Lead' (Uhura's fear of being old)


-Elaan of Troyius


-Amok Time


-Turnabout Intruder


-That Which Survives


-obsession with beauty- is what is beautiful good, and what is ugly evil?


-women’s jealousy of men (Miranda of Spock; Janice of Kirk)


-women as vain +their purpose if not to be beautiful


-women as a commodity (+android women)


-arranged marriage in the 23rd century- some things never change?


-Vulcan culture and matriarchy (yet women can only choose ‘challenge’


-Moralty: Elaan of Troyius/Turnabout Intruder


 


 


11-Sex- The Apple


-Amok Time


-This Side of Paradise


-the Gamesters of Triskelion


-Space Seed


-The Conscience of the King


-All Our Yesterdays


-Return of the Archons


-the Mark of Gideon


-Mirror, Mirror


-Kirk and his women (montage??) – an investigation


-sex = forbidden? Kirk and the Enterprise as a female character


-manipulation of women


-sex v. romance in Star Trek- what’s the difference?


-sex as related to paradise


-a relaxation of morals = sex?


-marriage in Star Trek [Balance of Terror wedding]


-women on the Enterprise (Uhura and Chapel) v. women on other planets


-reliance on logic/order leads to sexual outburst


-Vulcan restraint and the pon farr (“After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true.”


-birth control; the 1960’s


-sexually aggressive men v. women –how are the differences important?


-Morality: This Side of Paradise


 


 


12-Religion- Who Mourns for Adonis?


-Catspaw?


-Bread and Circuses


-For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky


-the Paradise Syndrome


-The Final Frontier (clips from film)


-the City on the Edge of Forever


-the role of God in a technological and universal society


-religious ideals tied to political ideals (freedom of belief, etc)


-superstition and magic


-priestesses, ancient texts, and ceremony


-is religion tied to violence?


-the classical Gods and their place in the 23rd century


-false gods (are all gods false?)


-making humans into gods (Power Corrupts)


-Christian charity


Morality: The Omega Glory


 


[film screening: Star Trek (2009)]


 


13-Final Presentations


-discussion of Star Trek (2009); what are the similarities between this film and TOS?


-discussion of the Star Trek series as a whole and its place in society


-going over what we’ve learned


-free discussion


-presentations of final projects


 


Happy Birthday Leonard Nimoy!!! You are one of the most talented, inspirational, and respectable people to have ever garnered so much fame. llap, always.

Spouter

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 263

Report this Apr. 13 2011, 12:59 am

I think that `Where no Man has Gone Before' would be a better choice for the main ep in the `Power Corrupts' block as Mitchell was Kirk's best friend and an all-around nice guy before he mutated and turned into a threat, not just to the ship, but to the universe in general. The Platonians in `Platos Stepchildren' were probably total smug, superior gits before they gained their powers, so werent really corrupted.

mdesjardins

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 169

Report this Apr. 13 2011, 1:14 am

That is a really good point. I want to look at Plato's Stepchildren from a lot of different perspectives, though, which is why it's there. From the first interracial kiss to its points on 23rd century egalitarianism (and Alexander's triumph over the Platonians when he decides not to take their power), I think it's a really interesting episode that says a lot about TOS ideals. Also the idea of Plato's 'Republic' itself as a utopian kind of ideal (the U.S. founding fathers literally laughed at the document and thought it was a joke)... one would think followers of Plato would be kind, gentle intellectuals, so it is interesting that it is mutated into something so unlike what we would call 'civilized' society. Then again, the Romans were 'civilized' and they watched gladitorial events quite similar to what happens at the end of the episode. I just think there is a whole lot to talk about there.


 


As far as power corrupting, though, you're completely right. Mitchell is a much better example, and I'll be sure to cover him well.

Spouter

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 263

Report this Apr. 13 2011, 5:50 am

All your other choices are good ones, except possibly `Spectre of the Gun' in `Emotion', i cant see where that fits in, unless youre showing a clip of the aftermath of Chekov's `death' and Bones' and Scotty's reaction to Spock's apparent callous disregard for what's happened to him. How about a clip of Bones berating Spock about his lack of emotion in `Bread and Circuses', a really powerful character scene. Anyway, the whole thing has been thought out very well, and i wish you the best of luck with it


 

wissa

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 4031

Report this Apr. 13 2011, 7:26 am

I want to take your class


We welcome st.com refugees! click on the image

mdesjardins

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 169

Report this Apr. 14 2011, 5:13 pm

Quote: Spouter @ Apr. 13 2011, 5:50 am

>

>All your other choices are good ones, except possibly `Spectre of the Gun' in `Emotion', i cant see where that fits in, unless youre showing a clip of the aftermath of Chekov's `death' and Bones' and Scotty's reaction to Spock's apparent callous disregard for what's happened to him. How about a clip of Bones berating Spock about his lack of emotion in `Bread and Circuses', a really powerful character scene. Anyway, the whole thing has been thought out very well, and i wish you the best of luck with it

>


 


Great point! I'll have to add Bread and Circuses in there.


 


You're exactly right. I wanted to use it to develop Spock's positions because that's an interesting conversation. Also, I wanted to question the human capacity to believe that the bullets weren't real. Bones, always the emotional one, has a real problem with it and I think it's an interesting concept (very Matrix). It is one of those that is only on there if I need it (hopefully we'll have time to cover it, but if we don't it's not one of my most crucial talking points).


 


Thank you for your suggestions and support!


Happy Birthday Leonard Nimoy!!! You are one of the most talented, inspirational, and respectable people to have ever garnered so much fame. llap, always.

mdesjardins

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 169

Report this Apr. 14 2011, 5:14 pm

Quote: wissa @ Apr. 13 2011, 7:26 am

>

>I want to take your class

>


 


haha thank you!! I wish you could! If I could have a class just with everyone on here I know we would all have the best time.


 I really enjoy coming on here and having such interesting discussions.


 


Everyone needs to become a UC Berkeley student! hahaha


Happy Birthday Leonard Nimoy!!! You are one of the most talented, inspirational, and respectable people to have ever garnered so much fame. llap, always.

mdesjardins

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 169

Report this Apr. 14 2011, 5:30 pm

Important Question:


 


Class Title- Going Where No Man Had Gone Before OR Going Where No Series Had Gone Before???!


 


Spouter

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 263

Report this Apr. 15 2011, 12:41 am

How about `Where no Course Has Gone Before'?


However, if you really want one of the other titles, then `Going Where no Series Had Gone Before' is the better title imo

mdesjardins

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 169

Report this Apr. 15 2011, 2:23 pm

hahaha thank you


 


And thank you for your help! I'm sad no one else is posting on here... It seems like something good to talk about :/

DocFanFive

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 1666

Report this Apr. 15 2011, 2:37 pm

Quote: Spouter @ Apr. 15 2011, 12:41 am

>

>How about `Where no Course Has Gone Before'?

>


brilliant!!! Too bad i'm not in college yet . I WANT TO TAKE THIS COURSE!!!!


Call me Doc, 'k? StarTrek.com's Resident Holographic Whovian since 2010.

mdesjardins

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 169

Report this Apr. 15 2011, 2:46 pm

hahaha come to Berkeley!


 I'll be teaching it this fall and then probably again sometime next year, which is pretty exciting. My hope is that if it goes well I'll have someone younger than me take over and keep teaching it after I'm gone.


 


So two votes for "Where No Course Has Gone Before"?? hahaha you may win me over..... 

ColPeg

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POSTS: 911

Report this Apr. 15 2011, 8:07 pm

Another possible course title (with the paranthetical)


Star Trek: More than a TV Show (Where no Series has Gone Before)


Evaluations - have each student keep a personal 'log' to evaluate each session as it happens.  Then at the end, re-read the logs and evaluate the whole course.  This could be an appendix to the 'final'.  I, personally, would forget what I had noticed in the first session by the time the last session came around.  This will help the student as well as the teacher and the improvement of the couse in the next year.


Also, this could be the beginning - a pre-requisite for a TNG course, DS9, and Voyager.  Hmmm could there be a Masters in Star Trek?


Remember to have fun:  Not only popcorn for the movies shown, but maybe a dip contest.  We had one at a Star Trek club meeting - I made a dip with spinich and called it "It's Green".  Other glactical cullinary samples could be gathered at a 'pot luck'.


Once it's been a success, send it here to UNM!


LL&P!


"If Man is to survive, he will have learned to take delight in the essential difference between people and cultures" -Gene Roddenberry -=-=-=-=-=-=-=- Col. P. A. Stevens CO, USS Code Talker NCC-1195

Spouter

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 263

Report this Apr. 16 2011, 12:30 pm

Quote: mdesjardins @ Apr. 15 2011, 2:23 pm

>

>hahaha thank you

>And thank you for your help! I'm sad no one else is posting on here... It seems like something good to talk about :/

>
youre welcome i feel the same about my Star Trek reviewed from start to finish thread.

toranaprem

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 621

Report this Apr. 16 2011, 12:54 pm

Looks like a good course!


However, you might want to change some of your androcentric language in your topic descriptions. "Humankind" is better than "Mankind", ect... Just because Star Trek is from the '60s doesn't mean we should talk like they did. TOS came out before women's lib, and there's a reason that TNG changed the wording of their opening, and it was a good one. Words have power, and you are going to Berkley, right? You're bound to get a couple feminists in your class.


I do think the question of Star Trek being viewed through a non-heteronormative lens is a topic you should include, particularly when discussing "Amok Time", which was written by Theodore Sturgeon who is known for writing the first gay-positive scifi story ever published, "The World Well Lost".


A good textual resource that you may want to take an excerpt from when discussing gender issues and "queerness" in Star Trek would be Gender and Sexuality in Star Trek: Allegories of Desire in the Television Series and Films by David Greven.


Roddenberry's comments on the Alexander/Hephaestion and Kirk/Spock parallel from Shatner: Where No Man... would also be an interesting discussion starter.


http://www.amazon.com/Gender-Sexuality-Star-Trek-Allegories/dp/0786444134


http://www.amazon.com/Shatner-Where-No-Man/dp/0441889751/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1302983580&sr=1-1


 


"What will they find when I am ripped apart? 'I love you, captain' written on my heart."

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