Is Anne McCaffrey’s work absent from the classroom?


Her fans still love her, but I’m just wondering,… is Anne McCaffrey’s work absent from the classroom? In 1984, Sharon Liddell wrote:

“Anne McCaffrey’s works, both science fiction and fantasy, are popular and exciting. Teachers will also find their literary quality is excellent.”

She explained: “Anne McCaffrey is one of those overnight successes we hear so much of. Suddenly, in the eighties, the public has discovered McCaffrey, primarily through a series of fantasy books. McCaffrey’s fantasies of the planet Pern have a hard science fiction background. The inhabitants of the planet are the descendents of an abandoned earth colony, but their off-planet origins and their advanced technology have been forgotten. Before the decline of the culture, scientists genetically engineered “dragons” from a small flying lizard native to Pern. These dragons are designed to protect the inhabitants from spores which migrate from the moon once every four hundred years. The current culture is feudal but not the medieval feudal system of Earth’s history.” Liddell)

I bring it up, because Barbara Bengels writes that she has found SF to be particularly useful for introducing key elements of literature in her literature class.

Specifically, she writes that she has “found Science Fiction to be the perfect vehicle for helping freshmen become aware that, despite what their families may have taught them, they are not the center of the universe. Because my focus in my first year Introduction to Literature courses is point of view, I have used three SF works which I’ve found to be particularly successful: ‘Born of Man and Woman” by Richard Matheson to show how first person narration allows the author to withhold key information, ‘That Only a Mother’ by Judith Merril to show how an author can have the benefits of first person narration while actually using third person, and The Left Hand of Darkness by Urula K. Le Guin to demonstrate the use of multiple first person narrators. ‘Born of Man and Woman’ is the first work I ask them to write a paper on, having them analyze why Matheson has chosen to tell this particular story from this unique point of view.” (259, Bengels)

There is some really great fantasy and SF… among them Anne McCaffrey’s body of work… so I’m just wondering how it could be used in the classroom… and whether or not it is?

References: Sharon Liddell (1984) ‘Recommended: Anne McCaffrey’ The English Journal, Vol. 73, No. 7 (Nov., 1984), p. 89  Barbara Bengels (2005) Using Science Fiction to Teach Point of View Extrapolation; Summer, 46(2); pp259-267


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