LITR 4368

Literature of the Future

Midterm Assignment 2019
email submission window: 21-28 March

This webpage constitutes this semester's midterm assignment, to be updated until Wednesday, 20 March, when paper copies will be distributed.

Official date: Wednesday, 27 March. Email submission window: any time after class on Wednesday, 20 March, until midnight, Thursday, 28 March. (

Attendance not required on 27 March. Instructor keeps office hours 4-7. Bayou 2529-7; 281 283 3380;

Relative weight: 40-50% of final grade                    Format: email or in-class; open-book, open-notebook, open-website

Content—3 Parts: continue parts 1 & 2 from pre-midterm & add Web Highlights

Part 1: Complete Essay on Narratives of the Future (6-8 paragraphs): Compare & evaluate 3 narratives of the future: millennial, evolutionary, alternative.

Part 2: Begin Research Report (4-7 paragraphs midterm total): Referring to course readings and outside sources, introduce and explain your learning on your selected personal / professional research topic (to be extended for final exam)

Part 3: Web Highlights (5+ paragraphs): Review at least 3 student contributions from course website's Model Assignments

Special Requirements / Instructions: All three parts must have titles.

Advice: Draft Part 3 Web Highlights first to familiarize yourself with standards, reinforce your learning, and provide models for how to organize.

Refer to nearly all our texts at some point in your midterm, but esp. Revelation, Parable of the Sower, and The Time Machine.

Other texts relevant to midterm include Scriptural Texts of Creation & Apocalypse (esp. Revelation), "Stone Lives," "Bears Discover Fire," "Somebody up there Likes Me," "Mozart in Mirrorshades," "Garden of Forking Paths," "The Gernsback Continuum," and "Better Be Ready 'bout Half Past Eight."

You may refer to course texts in abbreviated form, e. g. Parable, “Garden,” “Gernsback.”

Welcome to refer briefly to future-vision presentations & outside readings but not required.

Overlap between parts is possible and often appropriate, but be efficient.

Demonstrate you've reviewed our course's instructional webpages by using terrms, definitions, and course objectives. Best exams in past semesters showed such knowledge, while struggling exams used course terms in brief, superficial ways or barely at all.

Email your answers to instructor at Most common email mistake: students send to “white” rather than “whiteC

·Attach appropriate word processing file(s) to an email for (Microsoft Word works, Microsoft Works doesn't)   and / or

Copy and paste contents of your word processing file into an email message to

Instructor acknowledges receipt of your midterm usually within a few hours. If you do not receive an email confirmation, make sure you sent your email-midterm to the right address:

Email problems? A problem or two with email is normal in a class this size. Don't panic—communicate to work things out.

Spacing: No need to double-space, but OK if you do. All electronic submissions are converted to single-space for reading onscreen.  

Return of grades, etc.: 7-10 days after submission deadline; check your email for midterm note and grade from instructor.

    Midterm Details   

Part 1: Complete Essay on Narratives of the Future (6-8 paragraphs): Compare & evaluate 3 narratives of the future: millennial, evolutionary, alternative. (Length: 6-8 paragraphs of 4-7 sentences each.)

Describe and evaluate the three primary narratives for the future (Objective 1). Where and how do these narratives appear in our texts, how do they differ, and where or how do they overlap or combine?

Refer frequently to texts, terms, objectives, and course's instructional websites, esp. 3 narratives of the future compared.

What signs, terms, symbols, metaphors, sequences of events, time scales, and values distinguish one narrative of the future from another?

What literary and cultural attractions or appeals do these narratives make to different audiences? What are the sources or bases for their validity or authority? What downsides or detractions? Why or how do people identify with one or the other, or not?

What kind of future do these three narratives create for us as individuals, a nation, or a planet? What attitudes and behaviors follow from these narratives? (e.g., decline or progress? hope or fear? collective action or law of the jungle?)

Text requirements: Refer to at least two texts for each of the three narratives of the future. 

Scriptural Texts of Creation & Apocalypse, Parable of the Sower, & The Time Machine are required. You will lose credit if you don't make enough references to these texts to show you read and remember them.

Other texts that may also be included: "Stone Lives," "Bears Discover Fire," "Somebody up there Likes Me," "Mozart in Mirrorshades," "Garden of Forking Paths", "The Gernsback Continuum"; "Better Be Ready 'bout Half Past Eight."

Development / extension of pre-midterm Essay for midterm: Revise and improve your premidterm Part 1 essay draft according to instructor feedback and your own additional thoughts and examples. First drafts can usually be condensed and speeded up to reach their best material faster and cover more ground.

Extend your pre-midterm Essay 1 draft to include essential materials you were expected to cover but didn't (e.g. texts, types of narratives, term definitions, etc.)

Add new paragraphs dealing with materials since premidterm up to midterm

       narrative (more on evolution; alternative futures)

       texts since pre-midterm (The Time Machine, "Somebody up there Likes Me," "Mozart in Mirrorshades," "Garden of Forking Paths", "The Gernsback Continuum"; "Better Be Ready 'bout Half Past Eight")

Coordinate or unify new paragraphs with earlier pre-midterm paragraphs by reinforcing continuing themes or lines of thought, or by revising earlier paragraphs to preview additions or changes.

This Essay will not be continued on final exam, so conclude by summarizing visions and learning regarding three future narratives.

Part 2: Begin Research Report (4-7 paragraphs midterm total): Referring to course readings (as possible) and at least 2 outside sources, introduce and explain your learning on your selected personal / professional research topic (to be researched and extended for final exam) 

Length: 4-7 paragraphs of 4-5 sentences each. (Final Exam part 2 research report will be 7-10 paragraphs)

Assignment: Describe & rationalize your choice of research topic, identify its appearance or significance in our course's readings and objectives, describe what you learned from outside sources regarding your research topic, and apply what you have learned to your personal / professional or our collective future.

"personal" = what you've learned or thought before + personal future

"professional" = application to student career, teaching career, or other professional plans

"collective" = application to our common future, how we work, survive, and learn together (or not)

If you're still having trouble with your topic, see suggestions in pre-midterm assignment. Your topic may shift or evolve naturally in relation to your research and analysis, but if your topic shifts drastically, at least acknowledge and explain the change.

Part 2 Research Report will be continued on final exam, so conclude by anticipating what you may learn or look for next.

Text and Research requirements: For midterm2, you should refer to at least two of our course texts (if topic permits) and at least two outside sources with helpful information about your research topic.

For the final exam, you will revise and extend the draft you wrote for your midterm, adding at least two additional course texts (as appropriate) and at least two additional outside sources.

More on course texts: Connect your topic or your interest in it to two or more of the texts we've read together in class. (If your topic is so exotic that connections aren't easy, at least acknowledge the situation or indicate which of our shared readings come closest to connecting.)

"Outside sources" may include some combination of primary, secondary, or background sources from our course website, the internet, library research, and / or personal reading. The prestige and quality of these sources may vary widely, with varying effects on the quality of your report, but how well you identify and integrate your research to your interests counts more.

Primary sources might include fiction, films, video games, TV series, documentaries beyond our course readings.

Secondary sources might include a course term-page (e.g. science fiction, millennialism) and / or a previous Research Report written for the 2011, 2013, 2015, or 2017 Model Assignments. Other impressive possibilities include scholarly articles and books accessed through UHCL's Neumann Library, which have the most prestige and bring the most credit. Film or video documentaries on your subject are usually good unless they're obviously crackpot.

Background sources might include interviews with teachers or other knowledgeable acquaintances; encyclopedias, and companions to literature that provide basic generic, biographical, or historical information. Background sources on the Web start with Wikipedia or other more or less specialized websites providing common knowledge or basic information on varied topics. Documentation at such sites can lead you to more specialized sources.

(You don't have to do all three—just detailing options.)

Part 3: Web Highlights (5+ paragraphs): Write a complete essay reviewing at least 3 student contributions from course website's Model Assignments

Assignment: Review at least 3 submissions from previous semesters' submissions on the course webpage’s Model Assignments page and write 5-7 paragraphs (total) on what you found and learned.

Requirements & guidelines:

Write part 2 as an essay with an introduction and conclusion, not just a list of three items. The Web Highlights essay may work best as an upgraded "5-Paragraph Essay" today's students learn in high school or freshman comp. That organization works best when you connect what you learned from one Model Assignment to what you learned from the other Model Assignments you choose.

Web Highlights essay must have a title. (Not just "Web Highlights."

  Review at least one midterm2 Part 1 Essays from previous midterms.

  Review at least one Research Report (Part 2) from previous midterms or final exams.

  Review at least one Web Highlights essay (Part 3) from previous midterms or final exams.

  “Review”: describe what interested you, where, why you chose it, what you learned. You may criticize what you found, but not required.

To identify passages, copy and paste brief selections into your web review or refer to them using names, locations, paraphrases, summaries, and brief quotes. (Both options in models.) Either way, highlight and discuss language used in the passages as part of your commentary. Critique what you learn.

What did you learn from reviewing model assignments that you didn't learn from in-class instruction?

Note on organization and grading: Some students fulfill assignment by going through 3 assignments individually, one at a time until finished, with few or no connections between the separate models.

Better submissions unify the three reviews into a whole, purposeful essay in which the learning experience of one review connects to the learning experience of another, and your entire learning experience is previewed and summarized in the essay's introduction and conclusion.

Successful submissions sometimes start by identifying a subject of special interest, then choosing Model Assignments that meet this interest.

Sample Web Highlights from LITR 4368 Literature of the Future 2017.


General grading standards: Readability, competence levels, content quantity and quality, and thematic unity.

Readability & surface competence: Your reader must be able to process what you're reporting. Some rough edges are acceptable, but chronic errors or elementary style limit quality.

   Review & edit your midterm before submitting. Don't make instructor write, "You expected me to read your midterm when you didn't even read it yourself?"   

Content quantity and quality:

   Evidence of learning, esp. understanding of terms and application to texts.

   Coverage and analysis of required texts.

   Use of course resources including instructional webpages (esp. for terms) + materials from class discussion and lecture.

   Interest & significance: Make your reader want to process your essays by making the information meaningful to our study of literature and culture.

Thematic unity / organization: Unify materials along a line of thought that a reader can follow from start to finish.

Dr. White's Instructional Materials