Back in the same class of the penguin quote from last week: our professor is currently suggesting that science fiction is an "out" from the trap of realism that mainstream literature has talked itself into, which is super neat. He's arguing that at one point there were multiple healthy traditions of literature, some of which were more realistic (think Austen) and some of which were less so (think the Gothic novel), both of which were about equally respectable - i.e. not at all. But "realism" - which means the dominion of the probable and the explainable, as opposed to the imaginable - became legitimized, while the other branches of literature never quite did. So I think one of the points of this class is to explore a new form of literary theory that accounts for and incorporates sci-fi as a serious, and radically different, form of literature.
Austen seems to be popping up everywhere in my life these days: between Bride and Prejudice (which you must drop everything and go see, right now, because it will make you happy) and the Austen stuff I've been reading for this class, my head is full of sensibility and good marriages. Things could be much worse. :)