FOUN 98—EVOLUTIONARY FICTIONS—PAPER TWO
Length: Five to seven double-spaced pages
For this essay you must craft an analysis of a theme or critical problem that you find in one or more of the works we have read. By analyzing stories in terms of characters, theme, symbols, form, or setting, you can reveal features of the works that may otherwise have remained inaccessible. You should begin, therefore, by looking through the works we have read to find stories that seem strikingly similar or different to you in some way—for example, two or three stories that explore ideas of evolution, boundaries, utopian and dystopian views of science, social issues such as race, and so on. You may include films (e.g., Metropolis, Apocalypse Now, etc.) in your analysis.
As always, you should avoid simply paraphrasing or summarizing the works you are analyzing. After you've decided which elements of the story or stories you will focus on, you must gather evidence (quotations and analyses of specific elements in each literary work) to support your thesis and then decide how you want to organize your analysis. If you work with more than one story, make sure that your thesis relates them in some interesting way; don't, for example, look at religious images in one novel and then in another without discussing how these depictions compare and contrast with one another.
Work on crafting a coherent essay that begins with a clear introduction, including a thesis statement or "promise to the reader" that lets the reader know what the point of this analysis will be. If you work with two or more works, strive to give equal attention to each of them in the body of your paper; avoid focusing on one to the exclusion of the other(s). Conclude your paper gracefully by tying your analysis together for the reader.
- Examine the use of animal imagery in one or more works—e.g., The Island of Dr. Moreau and/or Heart of Darkness. How does this imagery function to depict issues related to human culture, race, and/or evolution?
- Discuss the role of race and/or gender in one or more of the works we have read. How does the text (or texts) represent race or gender as an issue in the context of its "evolutionary fiction"?
- Investigate one or more works in terms of the ways they may be reacting to Darwin or notions of evolution in general. Based on the evidence of the novel, what do you think the author's perception of the meaning of evolution might be? How does the novel work through anxieties and/or hopes about the possibilities evolution holds out for humanity?
- Consider one or more of the works we've read in terms of their representation what it means to be “human.”
- Think about the role of religion in one or more of the works we've read (for example, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Metropolis). How do these works handle or represent God or divinity?
- Compare one or more of the novels we have read to one or more film adaptations of these texts. How does the film reinforce or change what you take to be the message of the book? Please make sure that your attention to the written text is prominent in your analysis -- don't write only about the film.