Presentation on theme: "The “Other” and SF. Defining the “Other” “The Other is an individual who is perceived by the group as not belonging, as being different in some fundamental."— Presentation transcript:
Defining the “Other” “The Other is an individual who is perceived by the group as not belonging, as being different in some fundamental way.” “The group sees itself as the norm and judges those who do not meet the norm (that is, who are different in any way) as the Other.” Source: Lilia Melani, English Professor (CUNY)
Defining the “Other” The idea of the “Other” is actually in play on this campus today… We often see and define people by what makes them different than us…athletes group themselves in their communities; arts students group themselves in their communities; and so on… The whole idea of community is to align ourselves with people who share similar qualities, traits, or goals. It’s only natural, then, to start viewing outsiders as the “Other.”
The Other in Literature The “Other” is any character who deviates from or cannot be defined by the group norm. Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye rebels against the social norms and therefore could be defined as a type of “Other” in a society that values respect for authority and a certain suppression of emotional expression. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Jim acts as the “Other” in a society controlled by whites. You could even argue that Huck himself is defined by “otherness” since he rejects the social norms of Southern society. In a nutshell: The Other is any individual who is rejected by society, refuses to fit in with social norms, or is defined as “different.”
The Other in SF Science Fiction usually explores “otherness” in a much different way. The “Other” in SF could be: an alien, a robot, a mutant… You will notice that there is often a degree of fear and mistrust which leads to suspicion when society interacts with the “Other.” By defining what makes someone/something different, SF writers also force the reader to consider what makes someone “human.” It’s fun to speculate about alien life and robotic super- intelligence, but in reality, SF is often looking at what it means to be human. The “Other” in SF provides a contrast to the human character/human race.
Where have we already seen the “Other” in SF? Think back to the humans’ reaction to Klaatu in The Day the Earth Stood Still. Who was the “Other” in the films? How did the humans react in the films? How did both versions of the film define human behavior/tendencies? How was the “Other” used to define what it means to be human? Take notes on these questions and be prepared to share them with a partner and the class!
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