Frankly, I am not sure what I expected when I signed on for the course.
My contact with technology had not been extensive, but I was by no means a technophobe or unacquainted with futuristic narratives. I learned to read with the aid of my (significantly) older brother's X-Men comic books. (One of my favorite superheroes was the superheroine Storm, a fierce black woman who did just what her name suggested.) My brother and I played Atari obsessively when I was as young as six; when I was slightly older, we looked forward to whiling away hours (and our allowance) playing video games in the local 7-11. "Space Is the Place" and other electro jams pumped on the stereo, and we practiced our best "robot" and attempted to pop and lock our bodies like machines. I did not leave Mrs. Harrison's fifth grade class without thorough knowledge of the Commodore 64 (and later, the Amiga--thanks Mrs. Harrison). The future, as far as we knew, belonged as much to us as it did to anyone else...right?
Not according to films and popular science fiction. The vast majority of these works present a decidedly masculine, patriarchal picture of a future when the white male remains the universal subject. The extent to which the future is the domain of sweaty-palmed teenage boys became appallingly clear with one viewing of The Lawnmower Man. Supposedly cutting-edge, visionary works like Blade Runner and William Gibson's Neuromancer were rather problematic in their portrayals of nonwhites and women. As the course progressed, the questions remained the same: Why are women and people of color marginalized or absent in the collective vision of the future? Where are all of the black science fiction innovators? What about feminist science fiction? Why do I suddenly face futuristic fictions with foreboding when it should be a site of possibility?
Beam me up.