Worldbuilding for the Multiverse
Worldbuilding is an imaginative exercise practiced in the arts and sciences to envision alternative universes. Worldbuilding is also employed in statecraft and social organizing as a form of pre-figurative politics to bring about change within existing relations of power. This course explores the creative craft of envisioning a world as a system of relations, while critically examining the ethical implications of how its actors and elements are represented - and what (or who) is left out. We will take an interdisciplinary approach through lectures and readings in art, theory, and fiction. We will analyze forms of worldbuilding across disciplines and media - from novels to experimental film to architectural renderings to PowerPoint presentations. How do artists build and represent an imagined world through landscapes, seasons, sensory capacities of bodies, and relations of gender, race, and political conflict? How can the social structures in artworks reflect and elaborate upon the worlds we know? We will also draw inspiration from the work of visionary Black science fiction author Octavia Butler, whose archive is held by the Huntington Library. Students will create projects to build their own worlds through writing and visualizations across media of their choice (sculpture, drawing, photography, video, and other creative technologies).