Course Description


MIT 2189A-001 (Fall 2020)   Special Topics in MIT: Through the Looking Glass: Alternate Realities in Pop Culture

Instructor: D. Mann

Course Description

One of the most fascinating themes in popular culture is seen in fictions in which a heroic character goes through a portal or barrier into an alternate reality where the rules of the physical, social and moral game are fundamentally different. Much of the drama in these fictions comes from the hero’s attempt to figure out these new rules, how reality works on the other side of the looking glass. While there, they typically encounter archetypes that allow us to see seemingly unlinked stories as part of a grander mythos. This course will examine a wide variety of such fictions in five media forms, including the Alice in Wonderland and Doom Patrol graphic novels, the films The Matrix, eXistenZ and Waking Life, the TV shows The Twilight Zone, Electric Dreams, Heroes, Black Mirror, Rick and Morty and Cowboy Bebop, stories by PK Dick and HP Lovecraft, and a few Cthulhu games.  


3 lecture hours, 0.5 course



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