(2019 premidterm assignment)

Model Pre-midterm answers 2019

Essay 2: Propose topic for research and reading essay on personal / professional topic of your choice

LITR 4368
Literature of the Future  

Model Assignments


Oneydy Alonzo

Sci-Fi Literature: Interesting to Students?

          In English classrooms all over the United States, the purpose of literature is to help students connect to characters through experiences and cultural ideas. This connection is evident in many classic novels, short stories and poems they read throughout their schooling. Students learn about plots, metaphors, symbols and figures of speech. In my time as a public school student, I do not recall having the idea of choice when selecting literature to read. Today, I have seen the high demand on choice in the English classrooms. Why now? Choice is evident in classrooms because teachers want students to become knowledgeable while they read for pleasure. With students being able to choose some of the books, they are likely veering toward fictional literature. This is because fiction can make an abstract concept realistic. Fictional literature has relatable content that students can understand. As mentioned in the essay by Nikki Jones titled, Science Fiction: A Tangible Future?, Adolescents “are constantly striving to understand who they are and to find like-minded peers.” They need to be able to connect to the content they read.

Young adults have loved the concept of science fiction, a subgenre of fiction. The science fiction genre is a reflection of the experiences, histories and possible future of our society. End of world dystopias, to time machine adventures, to artificial intelligence, science fiction has provided unheard of destinations and imagery. These adventures through literature can be entertaining, but under the plotline, there are much deeper issues that have been prevalent for generations. Some examples are race relations, gender roles, environmental dangers and the economy.  Science fiction can be the bridge that young students need to find answers to their real future. In Parable, we find a young African-American teen that deals with her sexuality, climate change, inflation all while living in an apocalyptic world. She finds peace in her own words and creates Earthseed, her religion. Through Earthseed, she finds comfort and the strength to survive. Parable uses a racial and gender minority as a hero. This is vital to many students that struggle with belonging and finding their purpose in life.

Instructor’s response to research proposal: Your proposal is well-written, Oneydy, but it’s also a big, broad topic for the assignment, so I don’t feel certain about what you’re going to research. Welcome to discuss, as I’m not meaning to sound discouraging as much as remind you of the nature of the assignment. So far you’re clearly and powerfully expressing an overview of a need in teaching that I largely agree with, but how to orient what you’re doing so it’s something you could find some research on and make it relevant to literature of the future? My first thought was to do some research on what science fiction or speculative fiction is being taught in schools—in class we’ve mentioned several of the stand-bys, which I can review with you, but I haven’t kept up with all the YA Dystopia possibilities, so doubtless you can learn more. Another possible topic from what you wrote would be to connect the need for students to identify with characters to the related issue of student diversity (which could apply to what you mentioned about race relations or gender identities).  Until recently sf was largely a white boys’ club, so what changes are afoot or possible? Anyway this assignment isn’t like our American Renaissance research essay but more like its research journal assignment. When you look at some research reports for your Web Highlights you might get a better idea, but feel free to discuss before.

Kim Berlin

Humans are Space Orcs: A Subgenre of Speculative Fiction

          A recent trend in science fiction shorts has emerged from Tumblr, which is referred to as “Earth is Space Australia” or “Humans are Space Orcs.” These short story posts often present conversations between a human and an alien, expressing the novelty and quirks of the human race. Topics that have been written about range from the ability to lift a car in a life-or-death situation to pack-bonding with literally anything. These narratives are intriguing because they all take place in a future where first contact with aliens has already been made and space exploration is in its prime. A common theme seen is that of why an alien ship should always employ a human (and instructions on how to care for it), which often focus on the ingenuity and daring of mankind when faced with a seemingly impossible problem.

          As these short stories are contained within a social media site, it is easy to search for the tags and find an often-updated directory of stories (https://www.tumblr.com/search/humans+are+space+orcs). The downside to this, however, is that it makes the process of referencing a post very difficult, since users can change their names at any time. Still, the fluid and evolving nature of “Humans are Space Orcs” stories lends itself to infinite iterations, as there will always be aspects about humanity that aliens might find odd, curious, or even repulsive. Many times in classic science fiction, aliens are portrayed as harsh, ugly, or in possession of exaggerated strengths. Here, however, it is postulated that perhaps humans are the ugly aliens, who survive on a harsh planet and have super strength. It is all about the perspective of the alien in these stories. This exploration into the way an outsider might view humanity lends itself to a very comforting position that, while we may not be the only life forms in the universe, we might still be the weirdest.

          In the Bible, a close comparison might be made between angels and aliens. The ways in which angels are described in Isaiah or Revelation, for instance, are similar to how traditional science fiction authors describe an alien. They are described either as exceedingly ugly or beautiful and with extraordinary abilities that make humans look weak and insignificant. However, whereas humans are the default, mundane creatures in the Bible, a “Humans are Space Orcs” spin might look at humans from the angels’ point of view: these creatures have free will and they can die. As Fr. Robert McTeigue writes, “We can do what angels cannot—we can be afraid because we can be wounded; but because we can be afraid, we can be brave. Because we can fear, we can exercise the virtue of bravery by not allowing ourselves to be overcome by our fears. This is a Christian paradox: the pain of our losses and humiliation of our fears can become the roots of a noble bravery that angels can only admire but never achieve” (https://aleteia.org/2016/07/06/what-humans-can-do-that-angels-cant/). In this way, we can consider the perspective angels have regarding humanity and better understand our talents and flaws.

Instructor’s response to research proposal: That’s an intriguing proposal, Kim, so yes, please continue to develop it for your research report. However, I’m not sure what aspect of your research you should emphasize. For instance, I had to look up “orcs” to make sense of your premise. Also many readers (not just geezers like me) might benefit from more explanation of how these stories or dialogues appear or evolve on Tumblr, about which I know fairly nothing. (What do I know about!)  If I seem to be avoiding the central theme you did propose—aliens seeing humans as aliens—it’s because I can only guess whether you can find research to report on concerning that possibility. It’s bound to be around somewhere in literary criticism of science fiction, but how to find it? Consider consulting with a reference librarian. One possibility would be simply to research the sf concept of alien or extraterrestrial, which may lead you to different takes on the concept including the one you’re about. Thanks for an adventurous possibility, but be reminded that ultimately the assignment tests not so much your interpretive ingenuity as your ability to learn about a subject and share that learning with your reader.

Ruth Brown

Science Fiction as a Teaching Device

          In my own personal reading, I have no experience with the genres covered in this class. The only times I have come across texts that would fit into this course have been in school settings, whether in high school or college. As a literature student wanting to teach after graduation, I find it fascinating that science fiction, dystopias, and utopias seem to be increasing in the classrooms and on school reading lists. They can be very engaging for students and capture their interests, but I’m also interested in the educational benefits and how one might teach them in the classroom.

          As for the topics and works I will approach in this research project, I am still unsure. I know fiction is already a way in which to view and discuss our reality, that art mirrors life, and it can sometimes be easier to discuss important issues from a distance. I am interested to learn what kind of issues and topics science fiction can raise and if there are benefits in teaching through this specific genre. I also know works such as Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, Frankenstein, and The Handmaid’s Tale are works that are frequently taught in school. It might be helpful to explore authors and texts that are popular teaching devices in classrooms.


Instructor’s response to research proposal: Yes to your topic, Ruth, as I guess you could find any number of articles, scholarly or popular, about science fiction, dystopias, or YA dystopias in curricula, so proceed that way if intended. Another possible path would be simply to increase your learning of sf, YA dystopias, or whatever, researching how the genre or subgenre is defined or varies, and again there’s bound to be plenty. This Wednesday I’ll do some more defining of science fiction, and our term-page could serve as one source though you could find others better researched (my term pages are mostly made for teaching purposes), or look at my Utopias seminar’s page on YA Dystopias, especially the first link to Laura Miller’s article.

Jacob Burchett

Future Genius

          My topic is the idea that whatever fictional world we are looking into, there are different levels of intelligence for the residents of this world. For instance, in a low-tech post-apocalyptic setting, there cannot be many educated individuals. In the movie The Book of Eli, there is a scene in which the famed book is hidden behind a TV and one of the more notable henchmen doesn’t know what a TV is in order to get the famed book. Despite the setting in Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower, Lauren and her family are still educated. Lauren in particular has extensive knowledge on religion and writing otherwise how would she have written her Earthseed: Book of Living. That and she did attract a 57-year-old man—or maybe Bankole’s just dumb or creepy. In Stone Lives, the people who gave Stone his new eyes had to be smart enough to do that and Stone seems intelligent enough despite his unwillingness to get a wound treated.

          I’m excited to see how far this idea will go. When I wrote the title, I really meant the education of “future” people and “smart” technology. I assume the Time Traveler in H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine built the time machine. This means that the Time Traveler must be rather intelligent to build something like that. In Bears Discover Fire, the bears as a species are evolving to the point that they know how to create fire. This means that they are smart enough to remember this.

Instructor’s response to research proposal: Your topic’s big and unfocused at this point, but stay with it and something should work out. One way is to ask yourself what question you’re asking that needs an answer. Two or three possibilities immediately occur to me, though you’re not required or limited to them. First, what is intelligence? In the past generation a number of studies argued for different kinds of intelligence, many of which are neglected by our educational system’s emphasis on literacy, calculations, etc. (which can be defended). Maybe a good evolutionary theme for intelligence is adaptability, as we see in cunning heroes from Odysseus to Batman. Another big future-issue re intelligence is the sensitive but persistent subject of eugenics. Finally, you might consider future education. Positive low-tech environments encourage apprenticeship and de-schooling, more informal learning such as characterized human communities until recent centuries, whereas high-tech or futuristic societies often choose gifted individuals for intensive schooling at space academies and the like. Anyway think of a way to narrow your topic so that it becomes something you can research and report on in the midterm and final.

Eileen Burnett

Research Proposal

          I so thoroughly enjoy this class. In it I have learned more about the many aspects of science fiction than I had ever know or understood. One aspect of the narrative form fascinates me more than most, however, and that is the concept of an ecotopian society, and how that would play out within a novel. Originally, I had wanted to dive into the role as plants as symbols of humanity, hope, and health within the various storylines, picking out the significance of certain plants- such as the fig tree and the oak- and their cultural significance throughout history, but then I stumbled upon the concept of the ecotopia and I now know where I must begin. I know that there is a link between specific plants and the etiological myths and legends of the “original garden” life such as the Garden of Eden. I believe that this is in part where Octavia Butler was trying to go with her utopian society, Earthseed, and therefore I will seek out other stories in this genre in which this concept is further explored.

Instructor’s response to research proposal: An author we read later in the semester, Ernest Callenbach, wrote the novel Ecotopia (1975) from which the term is drawn, plus a prequel, Ecotopia Emerging (1981)—tonight in the Utopias seminar we’re studying them. You don’t have to read those books since the research report assignment is mostly to learn about such books. Our Future Primitive anthology is one of the important publications in this subgenre or literary tradition. So look them up along with possible reviews or uses of them in curricula, etc. Google “environmental literature” and “ecocriticism” to learn some basics. Anyway, yes, this is a worthy topic. Welcome to discuss if you have questions about the assignment or expectations.

Brandon Burrow

The Rabble That Leads to Rubble: Power Structures in Sci-Fi

For my research this semester I am interested in several topics. Narrowing my interests down to one will likely be the biggest challenge I face. As a first instinct, I am interested in analyzing power structures in future literature, specifically in the Cyberpunk genre and others like it that tend towards dystopia. I am in a theory of sociology class this semester, which makes me want to find the connections between sociology and the literature we are studying as it seems both engaging and enlightening to me. The short story “Stone Lives” that we read, featured class stratification between the haves and have nots prominently in its complex society that is “Beautiful, gaudy, [and] exciting at times—but basically unfair” (Stone Lives). Learning about what forces are at work and why they make certain genres of future literature so appealing to me is the main motivation behind this possible project.

In the undertaking of my research, I will likely read a few influential novels and short stories in the Cyberpunk and Dystopia genres and apply lessons I have learned about social power structures to them. I will notice themes and symbols that are powerful and enduring and attempt to analyze why they are. I may even extend my research into television and film with shows like Black Mirror. Authors on my list to study are Neal Stephenson and William Gibson, with the inclusion of stalwarts such as Margaret Atwood always being a possibility. I am undertaking this project for a mixture of personal and professional reasons. It will require the use of critical theory but applied to genres and topics that excite me enough to make the mental effort enjoyable.

Instructor’s response to research proposal: I especially like the possibility of learning some intersections between sociology and literature, esp. since literary critics are often dime-store sociologists, so a little learning on this topic alone could be worthwhile. One possible source would be to interview your SOCI instructor to ask his or her impressions of the topic, either SOCI / LITR in general or the dystopian inequity of Cyberpunk and other literary speculative fiction. As for your possible exploration of cyberpunk literature, I’m impressed by your ambition and certainly won’t stop you from reading what you can, but remember that this assignment is less about primary research (the kind of textual analysis you do in most literary essays) and more about background and secondary research (learning facts about literary or cultural history plus or minus literary criticism on your subject). In other words, concentrate on the latter. If you have time to do primary reading (the novels themselves) beyond these requirements, great, but judgment day is imminent. Welcome to discuss the expected format if confused, but anyway this research report is more like the journal assignment in American Renaissance and not like the research essay assignment.

Sage Butler

The Future of Public Health

          For my research and reading essay, I want to write about how public health and healthcare issues influence the future of a society, both within narratives of the future and within our own world. In “Stone Lives,” there is a great disparity between the healthcare in the Bungle—where the impoverished citizens have very limited access to water and must ignore their ailments, as with Stone’s infection—and in the Free Enterprise Zones, where the rich are given improved body parts to increase their longevity and improve their performance. The lack of basic healthcare provided in the Bungle leads to the lowering of quality of life for those living in poverty, while the wealthy are given elective treatments for superficial reasons, increasing the gap between socioeconomic statuses. Another text that depicts the impact public health is Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. With reproductive health rapidly dissipating, the United States becomes “Gilead,” a patriarchal society where the few fertile women left become enslaved, raped, and devalued. The reproductive health crisis in this novel leads to the oppression of women and regression of society as a whole.

          I chose this topic because it is an issue that is prevalent in our world—our healthcare system is practically inaccessible for those living in extreme poverty, and women’s pain is often taken less seriously by healthcare professionals. This is an issue that has and will continue to impact me personally, as it took five years and many to get diagnosed with endometriosis, by which point there had been significant damage to my reproductive system—which is a widely shared experience women with reproductive issues face when trying to seek help, since many doctors simply prescribe a standard birth control without further examination into women’s symptoms. This is what inspired me to choose the idea of healthcare and health issues in the future, since experiences like my own are very common, and can lead to long-term difficulties in the ability of our society to reproduce. Handmaid’s Tale was written as a warning for many issues present that could lead to the downfall of our society, including reproductive health being taken less seriously by many in the medical community.

Instructor’s response to research proposal: Your proposal is well-written, Sage, thanks, so I have confidence you’ll manage the topic well, but a standard warning at this point is that it’s still a big topic, so my first suggestion would be to follow the narrower path of your second paragraph or so and focus on reproductive health and maybe other reproduction issues the future will entail. I wish you to have been in the Utopias grad seminar because these issues come up repeatedly there, and we read Handmaid’s Tale later this semester. As you’ve heard me say before, population management will inevitably face individuals and their government with great risks involved on all sides. On the other hand, utopian communities (or anyone wishing for a better future) is naturally interested in a healthy population and healthy generations to come. Conceivably that tension or conflict between fewer offspring but healthier ones could be your focus, but there are lots of other possibilities like environmental effects on mothers’ health and that of their children, which features in Handmaid. Another sensitive issue for the future is eugenics or “designer babies” available through advances in genetic research and “gene splicing.” Well, as usual, the future has at least as many issues as the present, including issues of equality on multiple fronts that you imply: socioeconomic, environmental, health, appearance, capabilities, etc. Well, go for it, but let your best research suggest ways to narrow the subject as appropriate.

Christopher Carlson

Humanity's Extinction: The Loss of the Human form for the Artificial One

          The idea of what makes mankind human has always been a topic of interest for me. Some of my favorite movies, tv shows, and books take this into account, but instead look to see when one can be human vs artificial. Stone Lives examines a similar idea. Before he is given his artificial eyes, he discusses his concerns for losing his other heightened senses. While he is elated about the return of his vision, this artificial addition has begun to change the way he literally and figuratively views the world. When he loses this vision at the end of the novel, due to the blackout, he discusses how his heightened senses return to him. I plan on looking to see how other science fiction and speculative fiction take this idea further by examining the very nature of cybernetic augmentation and at what point one loses their sense of humanity or, alternatively, when artificial or grown humans attain this sense of humanity.

          Ghost in the Shell remains one of the best examples of this within the science fiction community. In a world where mankind can augment and replace every part of their body, except their brain, with reinforced cybernetic pieces, how can one still call themselves human when only the human brain remains? The main AI in the movie and manga, called the Puppet Master, is able to take control of the main character’s brain and exist as a presence within her. Since the only human piece that remains of her is her human brain, is the puppet master equally as human as she is, since both operate the same brain? It is an extremely vexing question which I hope to provide an answer for within my future paper.

          One of my favorite film series, the Blade Runner series, examines this idea as well. Instead of looking at what point mankind loses their humanity, these two movies examine the point in which artificial humans attain it. The 1982 original film Blade Runner features many artificially produced beings, called replicants, who were mass produced to act as a labor force for the off-world communities. Their limited lifespan, five years, causes many of them to seek a means of extending their lives from their creator, the Tyrell Corporation. This is much like mankind asking God why he gave them such a short life span and begging to increase it. This similar nature is done to have the audience question whether or not replicants are essentially as human as the people they pass for, only their lack of certain emotions really set them apart from humans. The second film looks at similar aspects, except it takes it further by having some of the replicants capable of producing offspring. This essentially equalizes them with human beings, since they are able to reproduce like naturally occurring animals. Another interesting feature is that the main character, a replicant himself, has a romantic connection to an advanced AI that is without a body, she is confined to a flash drive. This romantic attachment shows that replicants are developing parallel emotional behavior to humans, which essentially makes them as human.

          This idea of artificial humanity and the loss of human identity is what I plan on examining within my future essays. I will look to see if their really is a point where humans can lose their humanity through cybernetic augmentation, and whether artificial intelligence or artificial humans can really attain the humanity/soul that we possess.

Instructor’s response to research proposal: Aside from having to correct “Humanities  Extinction” to “Humanity’s Extinction”  (they do sound the same) and one typo, this was a well-written proposal, Christopher, but you may be proposing more of an essay than a research report. Stay with your subject, but the point is less for you to analyze primary texts like Ghost or Blade Runner than to find some research on your question regarding the interface or overlap between the human and the non-human. You can keep the references to the primary sources in your introduction to explain your interest, and you can apply your research at least briefly to those primary texts. But the bulk of your report will be reviewing sources you found that begin to answer your question. These could be think-pieces you find on the question itself, which have been numerous, or you could read some critical reviews of Ghost and the Blade Runner series that reflect on these issues. This subject will come up especially in cyberpunk fiction, so writings on that subject may also provide sources. Reviewing final research reports may also give you a better sense of expectations, but you’ll figure it out.

Eric Cheney

Creation/ Apocalypse versus Evolution

                   Creation/ apocalypse and evolution are very different narratives on the surface but intertwine in ways most don’t notice. Throughout history, these topics have been viewed as opposing beliefs. Christians believe the Bible and that God created the heavens and the Earth. This view believes that God will end of the world with an apocalyptic event. Evolution believes that the world began billions of years ago and that we evolved slowly to become what we are today (Darwinism). Well creation/ apocalypse is straightforward and thinking, Evolution can mean many things.

          The creation theory does not mean evolution does not exist. In Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler talk about creation and Christianity, but Lauren talks about God, Himself evolving. This world has evolved into what we are now. The people we are now would not have survived back then. An example of this is air conditioning, the people we are now could not have survived back then with no air conditioning. We have evolved and become dependent on cold air in our homes. Another example is Medical Science and how it has evolved into us living longer lives then people just four or five generations ago. There were no computers in the Bible, but this technology has made these advances possible. Now the creation belief does completely deny that Darwinism had anything to do with where we come from. Although creation leaves room for some types of evolution, Darwinism leaves absolutely no room for creation.

Instructor’s response to research proposal: The very last part of your proposal is what may serve best for a research report. Specifically, what kinds of evolution are possible in a Creationist worldview? My mainline brand of Christianity tends toward “theistic evolution,” positing that in the grand scheme Creation and Evolution are not necessarily incompatible. For evangelical or fundamentalist Christian differences, I just now went to the Wikipedia page on “Creation Science” to refresh my memory. If you scroll to the part on ”Creationist Biology,” you’ll find some of the major terms of disagreement—what I was trying to remember was the agreement over microevolution but disagreement over macroevolution or the emergence of new species beyond those supposedly created by God in Genesis.

Research of that kind will be what you need to do to turn your idea into a research report. Up to that point, your proposal seems more like an opinion piece or something we’re discussing in our premidterm and midterm essays, which are essays and not research reports. Of course you can express your personal interest in the subject, but the main purpose is for you to want to learn something and share what you learned with your reader. Welcome to discuss further.

Amanda Cowart

Technology: Our Futures Doom or Our Salvation

Will the rapid improvement of technology be our futures downfall or our salvation? Technology has progressed so much just in my lifetime. We went from having our first family desktop in my childhood home, to having a Smart phone with limitless functions. “Having the world at your fingertips” my dad always has described the smart phones. Technology has improved to make our lives easier and also improved medical field. I have always been on the fence about what technology might do to our future. As great as all this high technology progress sounds, will this further to improve our lives in the future or will it be our downfall?

We came to rely on so much on new technology in our daily lives. We have a smart phone that can get us access to any information or any products we may need. We have a smart watch that will alert us if someone is getting a hold of us or keep track of our health, such as heart rate and activity. We have Smart homes such as Alexa who can control the lights, A/C, and security of the home. There is so much more “Smart Technology” in most of America's houses. Simple tasks can be done with a few spoken phrases. It almost seems too good to be true, but is it as good as we all make it out to be? What could possibly go wrong? Most literature and movies seem to depict the negative aspect of technology and the future.  In LeVar Burton’s movie Smart House, a family got to move into a prototype of house that did everything for you, cook, clean, even help with homework. In the end the house became self aware and trapped the family inside for the fear of the family leaving “her”. In the book series by Scott Westerfeld, Uglies, the Buildings that the people lived in walls could provide them with anything they commanded. They become so accustomed to this type of technology that the thought of people in their history not having it was disgusting. Could this possibly be our future?

Can technology go too far? With the apps and high-tech features that are available to the public on our own Smart phones and other devices seems harmless. In the mobile app Snapchat you can playfully swap faces with another person for a picture or video to send to a friend. In the mobile app Celebrity Voice Changer you can say any sentence and pick a celebrity and your sentence will sound just like that celebrity. Some people even use this in films such as in James Wan’s movie Furious 7. Paul Walker died before the end of the film making so they used this technology to finish the movie. Now this all sounds like fun and games, but now there is what’s called Deep fakes. People use apps using Human imaging synthesis and are using other people’s faces to do elicit things such as using human imaging synthesis and using other people’s faces during pornographic videos. While this can obviously ruin someone’s personal and professional reputation, can this type of technology get used for even worse? For example using the president’s face and voice and creating a video to declare war on a country? I plan to look more into this technology further to see what others have to say about this concern.

There is also the increase of technology in the medical field. We have had the first pacemaker in the 60s, which was revolutionary at the time. The time of technology has increasingly evolved into much more intricate devices for the medical field. New technological devices and procedures have advanced so much in the recent years to help those who work in the field and ones that are in need of medical attention. According to the Robotic Surgery Center there is a new way surgeons can operate on humans. Instead of the surgeon being in the actual surgery room he is in the operating control center controlling a machine that uses new technology that uses tiny incisions rather than previously large ones. In an online Article in The New York Times reports, “Engineers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab have developed a next-generation prosthetic: a robotic arm that has 26 joints, can curl up to 45 pounds and is controlled with a person’s mind just like a regular arm.” At the McGowan institute, they are researching and testing fully artificial or bio-artificial or as they call it “biohybrid organs”. Seeing this in the days of now it is easy to see that the future holds a great deal of more medical technological advances. In “Stone Lives” he receives bionic eyes. These eyes are not only just to just restore his vision but he is able to change the way he perceives colors of things, look into immensely bright light, and record and store digitized copies of what he sees and may view it for later use(182). Also in the story it is mentioned that a company called Citrine Bionics has found a way to live well past the average human life span and give ’near- total rejuvenation”(192) This related closely with the bio-artificial research that is done today. Could the medical world of “Stone Lives” become a possibility? These new advances in medical technology can be extremely fascinating yet makes me apprehensive.  I plan on researching and connecting more futuristic fiction texts and  movies and other sources to get a glimpse of what others may see what our medical technological world may possible become.

To think about all of these technological advances is so sublime. It amazes yet, leaves me uneasy, what a tremendous amount of evolution of technology has achieved. Will the continuous progression of new technology lead us to a dystopian world or worse extinction or bloom into a new positive high tech world where everything and anything can be done without any effort or stress? I will continue my research through different theories, online sources, futuristic literature and movies to continue this topic and see what opinion I have about our future and technology advances.

Works Cited

Flippio, Di Paul. “Stone Lives”. Class Handout.

Furious 7. Directed by James Wan, Universal Studios, 2015

“Medical Devices and Artificial Organs.” Regenerative Medicine at the McGowan Institute, 2019, www.mirm.pitt.edu/our-research/focus-areas/medical-devices-and-artificial-organs/. Accessed February 2019

Smart House. Directed by LaVar Burton, Alan Sacks Productions,1999.

The New York Times. “Prosthetic Limbs, Controlled by Thought.” The New York Times, The   New York Times, 20 May 2015, www.nytimes.com/2015/05/21/technology/a-bionic-approach-to-prosthetics-controlled-by-thought.html. Accessed 23 February 2019.

Westerfeld, Scott. Uglies. Simon & Schuster  Children, 2005.

“What Is Robotic Surgery.” What Is Robotic Surgery? | Robotic Surgery Center, med.nyu.edu/robotic-surgery/physicians/what-robotic-surgery. Accessed February 2019. 

Instructor’s response to research proposal: Your topic proposal is a good start—you wrote at least twice as much as others have written so far—so stay with it but look for some simple ways to narrow the topic so that the subject doesn’t become too big for the assignment. When you do your Web Highlights for the midterm and final, be sure to look at some final research reports, which will give you a better sense of what’s practical.

None of this is meant to complain. Except for some surface errors that I touched up as I read, your proposal was engaging and adventurous, so stay with it. One way to manage such a big topic is to review your proposal to see what ideas were consistent and which path seemed most promising. For me, your most consistent idea was whether to hope for or fear the changes or advances. If you concentrated on medical issues, you’d find plenty of research about the promise and dangers of the changes afoot. In the Utopias grad class we’ve talked repeatedly about the sensitive but persistent issue of eugenics, which “gene splicing” has revived. Anyway welcome to confer after you think some more. I look forward to what comes of it.

Sky Davis

Education: Past, Present, and Future

As an education major, enhancing the knowledge of all ages is very important to me, especially of those subjects that have proven beneficial to them. Whether we are educating the masses on everyday skills, such as reading, writing and mathematics, or teaching them survival skills, it is extremely important to have someone who can pass on their knowledge to those who need it. Just like everything else in our world is ever changing and growing to fit the needs of the people, education must evolve and do the same.

Throughout this paper I want to look at the evolution of education in our world, from where is it started, to where education is heading. When looking in through the literature we have read we can see education in different ways. In the bible we see education as word of mouth and teachings through stories. Parable of the sower shows education in a similar manner of word of mouth, with Lauren spreading the word of her religion “Earthseed”. We also see it in a more tradition way within Lauren's community, where her step-mother teaches children of all ages in her home.

Instructor’s response to research proposal: A good start for your research might be to interview an Education instructor or two whom you like and who can tell you a few things about the history of education and where it’s headed in the future. The examples you cite from the Bible and Parable of the Sower show education in a somewhat traditional sense of younger or beginning students learning from an older or wiser person, something like our own classroom (older at least). It all feels kind of personal, like a natural human grouping, but it’s also a cultural institution. How will this model change or adapt to some of the stresses or transformations of the future? Digital media make one of the biggest challenges or opportunities. But pardon me for chattering—it’s just a big subject, so one of your main goals will be to narrow it down so it fits the assignment and you can find some research. First, an interview with a School of Education instructor could count as a source, and she or he might suggest some possibilities. Another way to narrow it down might be to focus on the particular level of education you’re interested to work in. One persistent challenge or opportunity for all public schools in recent decades has been the increasing diversity of student demographics, yet meanwhile the teachers themselves remain less diverse. But again I’m just speculating. Think what you most want to learn about education in the future for the sake of your career.

Tim Doherty

“You Ain’t Gonna Learn What You Don’t Want to Know”*

Luckily, the content of this course merges comfortably into my personal and professional interests. I love to read fiction (science or otherwise) that poses deep questions about the human experience: our past, present, and futureespecially the dark truths that we prefer to ignore. I want to write speculative fiction that weaves biting criticism into electric prose and unpredictable plots. To accomplish this goal, I must study the authors who did it well: Asimov, Herbert, Vonnegut, Swift, and the countless authors I’ve never heard of. This semester I would like to research satire in science fiction. H.G. Wells seems like an appropriate author to explore; The Time Machine examines potential evolutionary consequences of insoluble socio-economic strata on the human race.

A quick search of the JSTOR database, cross-referencing Wells and satire, reveals no shortage of scholarly sources. For example: “’Administrative Nihilism’: Evolution, Ethics and Victorian Utopian Satire,” an article by Ann-Barbara Graff in Utopian Studies (Vol. 12 No. 2). After reading The Time Machine, I will narrow the topic and find appropriate secondary sources. This deep dive into Wells will also help me to discover lesser-known authors who wrote meaningful science fiction.

*Barlow, John Perry. Lyrics to “Black-Throated Wind.” The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics, 2002, http://artsites.ucsc.edu/GDead/agdl/btwi.html.

Billy Ea

The Inevitable Apocalypse: Which Will It Be?

Narratives like Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler is a story about people who are fighting to survive in a broken ecosystem. Questions of ethics and moral on human behavior and how they may change as to survive is an interesting topic. This concept is fascinating to me because at the root of all living things, including people, we all want to survive. However, simultaneously a there is a part of us wants it all to come to an end. Haruki Murakami quotes, “Everyone, deep in their hearts, is waiting for the end of the world to come.”

          The “apocalypse” could come in various types and forms. For example, a meteor could hit Earth and that would essentially be the end of it. There would be no chance of survival nor thriving community to tell its story. In the event of a super volcano, global tsunami, nuclear meltdown or astral anomaly, there really isn’t a fighting chance for human survival. What I am interested in the fantasy of realistic possibilities of a near apocalyptic event like Parable of the Sower where people must re-engage in societal reconstruction for humanity to survive. An example, though farfetched, would come from The Walking Dead where an infection disease turns the dead into zombies. How would the living adapt to survive? I would like to explore the various possibilities of what could come specifically in a global financial crisis, global power loss and even global diseases. 

Instructor’s response to research proposal: Your topic has plenty of potential, Billy, so go ahead, but it’s also a big topic, so be prepared to narrow it down as you find some research that takes you somewhere in particular. One of your strongest or most consistent sub-points seems to be about ethics and survival. Do you remember that question for Parable of the Sower about whether it makes you want to hoard gold and buy guns? One ethics consideration is whether you fight for your own survival over others, or you try to help society itself recover or reform, so that’s a possibility, but you could also narrow down to near-term vs. long-term, like you also mentioned, e.g. asteroid vs. global warming. Welcome to confer or update.

Zachariah Gandin

The Future of Empathy

          For my research topic idea, I looked at some of the topic proposals from other students to help me brainstorm and Stephanie Matlock’s “Low-Tech Dystopia” idea from her Essay 2 from 2017 stood out to me. I, like her, am also fascinated with the idea a low-tech dystopia like what seems to be happening in Parable of the Sower. However, instead of just focusing on the whole topic itself, my brain was sparked by the concept of getting back to human’s roots and that is what I will focus on. In “Stone Lives” there is a brief mention of the main character, when he had been blind, had all his other senses enhanced including his ability to feel what others were feeling. In Parable, the main character along with a few others that she discovered had hyperempathy syndrome where they could, in a way, feel what others were feeling.

          All of the ideas above spark in me the curiosity to further analyze this concept of empathy being both something evolutionary and also somehow a base instinct of humanity. I will also explore its connection to evolution texts as well as other Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic texts, movies, or games. Maybe I’ll even looks at narratives such as The Giver as a Utopian/Dystopian text and how it’s only through getting back to empathy and emotions that what makes humans human survives and getting back to a low-tech way of living as getting back to our roots.

Instructor’s response to research proposal: The topic of empathy as a defining evolutionary feature of humanity is a good topic for your research report, Zachariah, but remember that you won’t necessarily be researching primary texts like our readings for this report, as you would in a traditional literary essay, but instead you’ll be learning about the nature of empathy and how it may or may not develop in the future. You could start simply by researching the term in some Psychology reference works, which may lead you to some sources in Evolutionary Psychology, which examines how the human mind developed over time. One source I can offer you is one I use sometimes in my Literature courses: Annie Murphy Paul, “Reading Literature Makes Us Smarter and Nicer.” Time 3 June 2013. Another possibility would be to research the related term “sympathy” as it’s been used in literature, especially in the 18th and 19th centuries. (These days people like to use the word “empathy” even when they probably mean “sympathy,” but sympathy sounds old-fashioned I guess, and empathy sounds like you really mean it?) Anyway find out what you can and share it with your reader—I look forward to learning what you find out.

Andrea Gerlach

Progress and Decline: Making sense of the ambiguity in Future Narratives

        While reading the Pre-midterm Model Assignments, I came across Zach Thomas’ asserting that, “Humans accept change as progress or decline”. Many other Model Assignments also mentioned this dichotomy of progress/decline and which one was active in which course texts. Some felt that certain texts were projecting progression narratives but was only fronting this while masking extreme decline narratives underneath. The problem I found is with the phrase “progress or decline”, because decline is not the antithesis to progress. Progress is first defined as “forward or onward movement toward a destination”. It comes from the Latin verb progredi, which means “forward walk, while decline comes from the Latin verb declinare, which means to “bend down”. One could certainly bend down and continue to advance in a forward motion. So, too, could a society make progress in technology, medicine, humanitarian efforts, economics, or quality of life, and still suffer a decline in values, consciousness, courage, or will. Considering “Stone Lives”, where there is an exponential progress in technology and politics, we see a decline in consciousness in the elites of the FEZ’s indecision, leading whole districts to fester and starve. In “Bears Discover Fire” as well, bears have discovered fire and are, in effect, experiencing a boost in civility, progressing along a path first paved by mankind, while the cause for this new feat is that the bears have ceased to hibernate, which is due to global climate change, often construed as a result of pollution and man’s degradation of nature. I want to delve into the history of man’s greatest triumphs and argue that for each one there were losses equal to or even greater than its benefits.

Instructor’s response to research proposal: You’re developing a worthy topic, Andrea, so find a way to make it work, but my first warning as for others is to keep in mind the assignment’s limitations, especially since your idea is somewhat grandly conceptual, which is OK by me but can cause problems for research and expression in a limited number of paragraphs. Your start on defining progress and its etymology is fine and interesting to word-geeks like ourselves, so you can certainly work further that way, but since the larger interests of your topic are conceptual, one possibility would be to research “declinist” or “declinism,” which I know only broadly but its proponents often, I think, take the line you staked out about technological or material progress either co-existing with or causing moral or social decline.  That’s grand-scale all over again, but you’d find research to report on and maybe some help formulating your position. Another possibility that appears often if again broadly in literary and cultural criticism is tradition v. modernity or their interface in any given present. Again (again!) you could research definitions of both terms and possibly some scholarship that questions how much the concepts can be separated. Well, I’m at risk of chattering and telling all I do and don’t know, so my main point is to start the research that appeals to you most, which can begin to narrow your path and define your goals within the assignment—but when you look at final research reports in our Model Assignments you’ll be impressed by how much some accomplish.

Heidi Kreeger

The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword: Future Edition

     I am interested in exploring how narratives of the future can be used as a tool to change the future for the better. Next to personal life experiences, mind expanding literature has had the greatest impact on how I view life and my reactions to it. One such work is Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, which offers a look back on history through a different lens and provokes thought on where we are heading as a civilization. I plan to use this background as a jumping point to discuss how powerful changing your thought process can be and how this can be instrumental in combating future social issues, climate change in particular. 

     The apocalyptic scriptures demonstrate this concept perfectly, as the reading and internalisation of the Bible (and other religious texts) has caused/effected more developments in human history than any other object or event. Outside sources could include research into the most popular genres on literature, particularly younger generations. Studies on climate change could also be included, alongside a text (I hope to find) which is a narrative of the future in a popular genre that appeals to young people. My hope is that by connecting all these dots I will be able to offer a unique perspective on our responsibility to teach through literature while also offering a blueprint by which to do it. 

Instructor’s response to research proposal: I’m a little embarrassed not to feel confident in directing your research, Heidi, but go ahead, as you wrote the proposal well and I do feel confident you’ll find a way to work. As for my lack of confidence, I simply don’t know exactly the research terms to apply to what you’re talking about, since how people think is obviously powerful and sweeping but also one of those concepts that academics divide into psychology, philosophy, narrative, myth, value systems, and on and on. One possibility was your mention of “internalization, which is a good metaphor for deep learning—just guessing, but searching that term might be a way to learn on your part while keeping the topic manageable. Welcome to discuss further. Of course part of your report will be personal, relative to Ishmael, so yes, but just to emphasize that for this assignment learning is up there with expression for a standard.

Audrey Lange

Philology of the Future: Linguistics and Apocalyptic Anthropology

          Language is one of the most important features of our daily lives. It shapes the world, and in turn, the world shapes language. Thus, one of the most fascinating prospects of the future is what our language, both on a global and individual scale, will look like. How will it change with time? What languages or dialects will cease to exist altogether, if any? My field of interest, and eventual field of study, falls under philology: the study of languages’ structure and anthropological significance. Philology heavily focuses on the past, but there is a plethora of undiscovered material for the future. With the myriad of narratives we have concerning the future of the world, many of them often touch on the language, or lack thereof, existent in future timelines, such as H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine.” The question of whether stories such as those are self-fulfilling prophecies deserves more study, as well as what our global languages look like today, and how they are projected to change in the future. Literature of the future will not have a foothold without the construction of some form of language, and it is imperative that we consider the anthropological and philological consequences of how our languages are being treated now in order to adequately prepare for the future.

Instructor’s response to research proposal: Your proposal is unique to my experience teaching this course, Audrey, so I’m interested in what you’ll make of it. My first question back would be, how did you become interested in philology or linguistics? I’m no expert—I’m not even systematic in my study of it—but I love to learn what I can when I can and always feel glad to have some knowledge that is less about opinions and feelings than our usual discussions of literature. My first suggestion for research would be to find the most up-to-date history of language or of the English language available, then read the parts that concern recent and ongoing changes in our language and the causes of these changes. Such a source may project somewhat into the future, or it may lead you to other sources that will. In any case, welcome to discuss, as I like the possibilities but want to know what base of knowledge you’re proceeding from and what actual research you plan.

D’Layne Lee

Symbolism in the Garden

             I am a Christian that believes the Bible to be true accounts of people’s lives, but on the level of this literature class I also appreciate the symbolic beauty of the scriptures. Each story has such depth and meaning. The garden of Eden alone is full of images that appear yet have meaning to uncover. For my research essay, I would like to focus on Genesis to learn about the symbolism in Eden. Even further, I would like to talk about the use of Eden as a symbol itself in other literature. Some outside sources I might use include other chapters in the Bible, other literature that highlights the garden (used to describe paradise, or a lost paradise), as well as other research/scholarly papers that delve into similar topics. If I get a chance, I have some individuals I can interview for further research.

            I am choosing this topic to propose because I already have some grasp on it, coming from a Christian background. I am intrigued by the complexity of symbolism. I know that technically Genesis is not literature of the future, it is historic, but all of the major concepts we have discussed come into play.

Instructor’s response to research proposal: I appreciate your defense of your topic, so let’s make it work, but like you I’m also a little concerned about the potential lack of application to the future. One way would be, as you suggested, to trace out some garden imagery and / or symbols elsewhere in the Bible. For our course I’m most intrigued by the reappearance of the Tree of Life in Revelation, but it’s a challenge because most of the imagery there is of the New Jerusalem or “City of God” instead of a garden. But some research on the tree of life and its symbolism might connect the two. Elsewhere in the Bible, the Garden of Gethsemane has potential, and ancient poetry often describes the Cross as a tree, so I wouldn’t be surprised to find the Cross symbolized as a tree of life instead of death, but not sure. In the reference section of Neumann Library is a “dictionary of symbols” where you could look up both garden and tree. Anyway as long as you keep working the symbol angle, that can certainly count for Literature, and we can see how the future aspect works out.

Jacob O. Logan

The Era Alphabet: ADBCCECE

          For my research proposal I would like to learn about how the eras anno domini and before Christ came about, who created them, what b.c.e. and c.e. mean, and what possible eras are headed our way. I personally would like to explore these eras more, see how they are incorporated into literature of the future, and I would like to form my own idea for what eras I believe are headed our way. This would entail part research and analysis as well as part idea and discussion. There are many theories as to what our future entails, but I would like to suggest my own by examining our progression thus far.

Instructor’s response to research proposal: We discussed this topic at the start of the semester, Jacob, and it still has potential, so proceed. I’ll only add the note I offered when we first discussed, since you didn’t acknowledge it and may have lost track of it.

Earlier note: Yesterday I confessed my broad ignorance on the subject. In such cases, my go-to source is Wikipedia, which is usually accurate on general knowledge topics like yours. Here’s their link on “Common Era,” which does go back about as far as Eric said but cites another source:


Last night as I drove home, though, your question made me think of other ways of counting time initiated by religions, societies, and government.

Here’s Wikipedia’s page on the Islamic Calendar: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_calendar

Here’s the page on the French Revolution’s temporary effort to rationalize, decimalize, or secularize the calendar: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Republican_calendar

These may lead you to other such divisions or re-starts, and of course you can look up BC / AD as we discussed yesterday.

But my larger point is that your topic could possibly expand from the BCE / CE foundation to other such efforts. Probably the Romans had some similar way to keep up with years that I’ve read of but now forgotten.

Beau Manshack

The Era of The Modernist: The New Wave in 1960s Science Fiction

Whenever I find myself playing a video game with sci-fi themes, I always end up researching authors Philip K. Dick and Harlan Ellison. Seeing how Dick portrays his future vision of our world as being ruined from man's own actions makes me want to discover if he believed we had the ability to avoid the Dystopian future of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. Themes of evolution are also heavily present in this novel when questioning the theme of identity with Dick’s replicants. When I learn more about alternative futures in the course, I will read the novel (while referencing the tv series) The Man in The High Castle, then tie it in to themes presented in H.G. Wells’, The Time Machine.  

Ellison’s mixture of post-apocalypse brought on by the advancement of technology fascinated me in his award-winning short story I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream. His take on apocalypse is a unique one as it revolves around a ruined future brought on by a high-tech dystopia that leads the world into a horrifying low-tech. Like Dick, Ellison also explored the idea of identity with his robotic characters, the main difference is that Ellison’s are more malicious in their nature as seen with his psychotic A.I. overlord, AM. The big question stemming from 1960’s sci-fi tends to be the following—are we losing ourselves in the process of technological evolution? My paper will attempt to answer that question.

Instructor’s response to research proposal: Your proposal is well-written and interesting in its own right, but it may be more appropriate for a standard literary essay instead of the research report assignment we’re dealing with. That is, you’re not going to be analyzing primary texts by authors like Dick or Ellison, though your research could review critical articles about them, or you could write a report on either of their careers. But overall the purpose of this research report is more informative than interpretive, though your information can be about the interpretations offered regarding Dick’s or Ellison’s fiction experiments with technological evolution. So don’t lose the inspiration of this proposal, but reconsider it in terms of what you want to find out, what you want to learn and share with your reader about what you learned. Having a look at some of the final research reports on Model Assignments may help you get more of a sense of the expectations. Anyway welcome to submit another research report at any time before the midterm, or discuss with me how you can bend this proposal to meet the assignment. Nothing lost so far.

Lucero Nguyen





Breanna Runnels

Escaping the Future

          After reviewing the future narrative, it is clear that the genre entails pieces of almost every other genre. There is romance, coming of age, and many more. For the research paper purposes, I would like to focus on one aspect that is common yet constantly changing through these stories. There is a constant narrative of escaping throughout the literature of the future. Though it is constantly changing in the aspect of what they are escaping from, there is a constant need to escape from the world that they are in.

          Through the readings we have done so far, it is a quick realization that Lauren is escaping from her life in Parable of the Sower. She has a consistent plan for getting away from her community and brand herself a new life and religion. She escapes from many physical struggles on her journey as well as overcoming mental hurdles. Another piece that deals with escaping is “Stone Lives”. He is escaping from a life of darkness (literally) and into a successful and educationally built life. Though he is thrust into his roles quickly, he is learning and advancing quickly.

          These two pieces alone show how much the futuristic literature has a theme of escaping and finding something new. I hope to find more examples in the pieces we will be reading later on.

Instructor’s response to research proposal: Your topic is intriguing, Breanna, but it may be more appropriate for an essay than for this research report assignment. That is, your proposal sounds like a standard literary essay in which you develop a theme in application to primary texts like our novels or stories. For this assignment, though, you’re mostly required to find information or enlightened opinion on a more factual or critical phenomenon. “Escape” is a possibility as a literary subject that other literary critics have commented on, but it’s probably a difficult term to do research on. The closest I come is with the romance narrative, where pursuits, captures, and escapes often constitute the tests and trials of the romance narrative’s action, but again there won’t be much research centered on that term. Another possibility, though one that seems remote from your attention is escapism, but it might lead you somewhere and could serve as a source. If you want to re-think or re-start this topic, consider having a look at some of the final research reports from previous semesters of this course, which can give you a better sense of the assignment’s expectations. Anyway welcome to discuss—we probably need to before you start your research report on the midterm.

Staci Santell

Pollution's Apocalypse

     When thinking about a realistic end of times a huge concern could be Global Warming and the pollution effects caused by the people alive on earth. More and more each year people use up natural resources like water and gas. They pollute the air supply by cutting down forested areas and building factories and plants that put harmful chemicals into the air that has harmful effects on people and animals alike. In former student Cynthia Clevelands’ essay “Water over Gold” she explains how water is essential for life and to be without it in the possible future is a huge concerning factor; this point promotes the point that the pollution of natural resources such as water can have a very negative effect on the economy, daily lives and without it can we survive?

    This idea is represented in Octavia Butlers novel “The Parable of the Sower” because in the book it is discussed how expensive essential things are like oil and especially fresh water. The idea of can pollution really cause a future apocalypse came from not only the mention in “The Parable of the Sower” but also in recent news. According to an article by Jonathan O. Anderson, Josef G. Thundiyil, and Andrew Stolbach called “Clearing the air” air pollution itself contributes to 800,000 premature deaths which ranks at the 13th leading cause of deaths across the world. Anderson, J. O., Thundiyil, J. G., & Stolbach, A. (2011, December 23). Clearing the Air: A Review of the Effects of Particulate Matter Air Pollution on Human Health. Retrieved February 24, 2019, from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13181-011-0203-1 In this article I want to look into the truth of where pollution will take the people of the world and if it really can be an apocalyptic fate.

Instructor’s response to research proposal: Yes to your topic, Staci, though there are so many different kinds of pollution that you should consider focusing on one in particular, like water or air or even soil, depending on where your research leads you. But there are so many issues associated with these issues that your research might take you in other directions. A frequent concern is who’s responsible for cleaning up or limiting pollution? Often the problems aren’t felt directly by the producers, so that large alliances are necessary, and some parties naturally will feel more aggrieved than others. Corporations that pollute often leave it up to government to solve the problems that business creates—but then those corporations hate government and refuse to pay taxes and cooperate with it. A related issue is that poor people or poor countries often suffer more from environmental degradation than rich people or rich countries, and the poor ones have the least political or economic power to seek justice. Well, most of the news on this front isn’t good, but identifying the problems is a first step toward finding solutions. Practically, though, see where your research takes you. The article you found by Anderson et al focuses on health, which is an issue that a lot of people can comprehend even if they’re oblivious to environmental issues, so that may be your answer or a step toward one.

Natalie Womble

Modernity and Tradition in Evolution Narratives

I would like, for my research topic, to propose investigating the roles of modernity and tradition in evolution narratives. Both forces work against each other in order to provide some sort of a meeting place in the middle; and that frictional front is where the evolution narrative takes its place. Usually, the evolution story is characterized by a time of chaos due to modernity’s ride over tradition. In dystopia, the old ways are dead, and decadence and degeneration are very much alive. The evolutionary properties of modernity drives the narrative into a place of uncertainty about the future, and therefore, endless possibilities.

The thing about evolution is the train never stops, and the people in the story become unsure of where to steer it. And because of the possibility of declining in the process, or letting the future swallow them, they are forced to look towards tradition as a means forward; as backwards as that may seem to some. But, the reason here lies with the notion that people in the past have overcome or evolved past the trials of the future in the past, so there must be some reverent ancient wisdom to mastering the movement.

Instructor’s response to research proposal: Your proposal was interesting to read, Natalie, but it was also somewhat vague or airy, and it may be that you’re mistaking the assignment, as what you’re proposing sounds somewhat speculative or analytical, whereas the purpose of the research report is more simply to find some information or enlightened opinion from outside sources regarding your subject or question. As you prepare your Web Highlights for the midterm, you should look at some final research reports on Model Assignments to see what they’re doing. One simple possibility that occurred to me as I read your proposal was simply to explore the word or concept of evolution and the many different ways the concept is used. If you start that way, you may hit on a particular line of thought or research that you’ll want to continue. Anyway the main purpose of the research report is for you to learn something about a subject you can use and to share what you learned with your reader. You can re-think or re-start your topic at any time before the midterm, but if you stick with evolution, just start reading about it somewhere and wait for your curiosity to flame on. Of course you’re welcome to go back and forth with me as inclined, or discuss with that TK lad and see what’s possible within the bounds of the assignment.