Major paper

Length: 10-12 pages
Deadline: November 24, 2016
Weight: 30%

Getting started: First, each student must choose an initial direction, and then do some research to see what, if anything, exists on the chosen topic. This process may involve one or more changes in direction, until you find a subject area that can support an interesting question or set of questions.

Thesis: This stage is the most crucial to the whole project, so spend a lot of time and thought in, first, choosing a topic that interests you; second, formulating a question or problem which arises from that general topic; and finally, articulating your answer to that question or problem in the form of a thesis. See “Formulating Questions,” “Developing a Thesis,” and “Essay Checklist.”

Essays will be evaluated, in decreasing order of importance, on whether:

  1. the thesis is obvious from beginning, and is the focus throughout;
  2. the main idea(s) are presented clearly, in logical and effective order;
  3. the examples from the chosen text(s) are appropriate;
  4. sources are used appropriately (to complement, rather than overwhelm; to back up arguments rather than make them; proper creditation);
  5. grammar, spelling, and proof-reading are up to standard; and
  6. the paper adheres to MLA format.

Important note: You will have the option to revise/rewrite your essay, but only if you have it in to me on or before the due date. If you exercise this option, the original and the revised grade will be averaged to produce your final grade for the assignment.

Some possible topics:

These suggestions are very general. They need to be applied to one or more writers and/or texts, and further refined. (For example, a paper is not “about” robots, but rather, it argues that “in Writer X’s short story ‘I wish he’d change his oil,’ relationships between humans and artificial intelligences are characterized, through the negative example of Daphne and R784’s constant bickering, as doomed”). You are encouraged but not required to range through the anthology (or further) and find (a) text(s) that we haven’t read in class. All papers must engage with the text(s) in some way on the levels of language and style, and they also need to relate to class themes and discussions.

  1. Stories in conversation with the genre and/or each other.
  2. Writing in a marginalized genre from the outside: race, class, and/or gender in SF.
  3. Categories and sub-categories: assess how one or more texts align with/break away from traditional SF tropes.
  4. Follow the development of a particular trope or theme over time.

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