A Periodical History of the Fantastic: Science Fiction and Fantasy in Magazines, 1880-Present ENGLIT4137

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Critical Studies
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

For much of its recent history, the development speculative fiction has been driven - sometimes quietly, sometimes less so - by the pages of magazines. This course is about two interconnected things: the place of the short story in the history of science fiction and fantasy, and the place of science fiction and fantasy in magazine print culture of the last c.140 years. We will read some of the most iconic short stories in the genre, and also the magazines in which they appeared, tracing the evolution of both genre and medium across the long twentieth century.


2 x 1-hour lectures, 9 x 2-hour seminars over 10 weeks as scheduled on MyCampus. 


This is one of the Honours options in English Literature and may not run every year.

Requirements of Entry

Successful completion of Junior Honours English Literature, and by arrangement to visiting students or students of other Honours programmes who qualify under the University's 25% regulation.

Excluded Courses





1200-word written exercise - 30%

2400-word essay - 60%

7-min presentation - 10%

Course Aims

This course aims to:


■ Provide a grounding in periodical studies, the theory of the short story, and the history of science fiction/fantasy in the long twentieth century.

■ Help students consider the connection between the evolution of a genre and its material (print) context.

■ Consider the formal qualities of magazines, including today's internet-first market.

■ Encourage critical discussion about the position, operation, and value of literary taxonomies.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Evaluate short-form science fiction and fantasy, demonstrating a honed judgment of genre, form, and/or historical context.

■ Conduct critical work which responds to the periodical context of a short story, in particular understanding how the social, cultural, and historical factors in the production, consumption, and accessing of magazines affects their contents.

■ Independently research and appraise magazines and their contents, especially those catering to genre science fiction/fantasy.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.