Science Fiction and Fantasy Class Returns to Stuyvesant

The Science Fiction and Fantasy course is returning to the Stuyvesant English curriculum following its removal last year.

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By Joan Xiao

The Science Fiction and Fantasy class is returning to the English electives list next year. The class will be taught by English teacher Ellis Staley, replacing Vito Bonsignore, who retired last year. Staley is a new English teacher who began teaching this year and is currently teaching both Freshman Composition and American Literature. “I’ve always loved science fiction and fantasy, so this is a chance for me to learn more about a field that I've always enjoyed,” Staley said.

The class will only be available to seniors as an English elective, with no minimum GPA requirement. Student assignments will include a creative final project and creative writing throughout the semester, but the course will also address the college application writing process. Staley believes that his class “will be an outlet and escape from the real world,” he said.

The new course curriculum will be based on the curriculum designed by Bonsignore before he retired, but it won’t be entirely the same; Staley hopes to incorporate his own interests as well as his students’ interests. The class will read and discuss various books such as “The Left Hand of Darkness” by Ursula K. Le Guin and “The Demolished Man” by Alfred Bester, along with other works from the ‘50s and ‘60s. Staley also hopes to incorporate books such as “The Lord of the Rings” and “A Game of Thrones” in order to compare trends in the science fiction and fantasy genres. “I want to [discuss] more current authors, more diverse authors, and different media,” Staley said.

When asked what he hoped students would get out of taking his class, Staley replied that he wanted students to be able to discuss how science fiction has been incorporated into popular culture and entertainment media like film and television. “Why do we have fantasy? Why do we seek out worlds other than our own, and what are we seeking there?” he asked.

Assistant Principal of English Eric Grossman hopes that having the Science Fiction and Fantasy elective will allow students to have more choices when deciding on English classes. “The kind of challenge and goal for the department is balancing consistency with choice,” he said. Historically, the class has been very successful. “It’s a genre a lot of kids read on their own anyway [...] and it’s a natural draw,” Grossman said.

Staley has already gotten positive feedback from juniors that he has discussed the class with. “I’m excited for [the class because] sci-fi interests me [a lot],” junior Muhib Khan said.

In addition, Staley welcomes seniors who are already signed up for AP English to take the elective. “I think that students who are in AP [English] will bring a lot to the table,” Staley said.

Along with the Science Fiction and Fantasy class, the English department is also bringing back Creative Nonfiction Workshop. Dr. Emily Moore, who has been on childcare leave for the past few years, will be teaching Poetry once again this upcoming fall. Ms. Alicia Pohan, who taught Poetry this entire year, will be teaching the Creative Nonfiction Workshop class beginning next fall. Grossman seems confident about these teacher assignments. “[Ms. Pohan has] had experience teaching workshop classes. She taught Poetry this year, and it’s a similar model, although the topic itself is different,” Grossman said.