H G Wells, Science Fiction and Film module (EN41016)

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Module code


  • Level 4
  • 30 Credits
  • Semester 2
  • English - School of Humanities
  • Coursework 100%
  • HYBRID English-Film Studies module


This module studies the synergy between Wells's science fiction and optical technologies, especially cinema. It considers them as critical subject matter, narrative influence and film adaptations. It places Wells's texts within the historical and cultural context of modernity, to explore their futuristic speculations about the impact of new media.

The aims of this module will allow students to study the inter-textuality of Well's writing with new optical technologies, especially cinema, as critical subject matter, narrative influence and adaptation. To historicise this with the social, historical and cultural context of modernity and to evaluate Well's speculations as to the social, political and cultural impact of new media and to provide an understanding of critical and theoretical approaches to the texts and films.

We will approach texts and issues through a variety of topics, including:

  • 'cinematic' visualisation and narration
  • futuristic fiction and the uncanny
  • new modes of subjectivity and 'presence'
  • utopianism and dystopianism
  • evolution and 'degeneration'
  • science and modernity
  • 'technologisation' of the body
  • mediation, politics and 'superhumanity'
  • class relations
  • consumerism and objectification


Dr Keith Williams


This module will be taught by one weekly one-hour lecture plus weekly viewings and seminars over 11 weeks.


  • Essay 30%
  • Research essay 70%


Primary Texts by H.G. Wells (Penguin and/or Everyman, unless otherwise specified)

  • The Time Machine (1895)
  • The Complete Short Stories of H.G. Wells, ed. J.R. Hammond ( London: Phoenix, 2000) or The Country of the Blind and Other Selected Stories
  • The Invisible Man (1897)
  • The War of the Worlds (1898)
  • When the Sleeper Wakes (1899)
  • The Shape of Things to Come (1933)

Primary Films

  • Robert Young (dir.) The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells
  • James Whale (dir.) The Invisible Man (1933)
  • Lothar Mendes (dir.) The Man Who Could Work Miracles (1937)
  • William Cameron Menzies (dir.) Things to Come (1936)
  • George Pal (dir.) The Time Machine (1960)
  • Simon Wells (dir.) The Time Machine (2002)
  • Fritz Lang (dir.) Metropolis (1926)
  • Byron Haskin (dir.) The War of the Worlds  (1953)
  • Steven Spielberg (dir.) The War of the Worlds  (2005)

Access the online reading list system

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this module students will learn how to:

  • Engage critically with an appropriate selection of texts and films, using a variety of approaches,
  • Discuss the influence of technological change on culture, society and politics,
  • Develop their own independent response and analytical skills.


This module is available on following courses: