LIT 2310 Fall 2020
Research Essay Topics and Instructions
Essay: Due on D2L (post under Assignments) as a Word .doc or .docx file by 11:59 pm on Friday, February 26.
Follow the instructions below to answer the paper prompt. You can select from any of the readings on the syllabus (not include the film Ex Machina). You will have two goals for this paper: 1) conduct a close reading based upon your understanding of the texts you’ve chosen and 2) do research to support your argument.
Prompt: The term cognitive estrangement is a science fiction concept that refers to the way a science fiction story will imagine a strange or unrecognizable world that is scientifically consistent with our own, and also reflects some of our social truths as well. Since these “truths” are placed in the context of a strange world, they become unrecognizable to us, and therefore easier to think about and discuss. The effect is that the strange world actually helps to make the real issue more plausible and understandable in the eyes of the reader, because it is so much easier to distance ourselves from the harsh realities of our own world. Imagining them on an alien planet or in the body of a robot takes the pressure off!
Considering this, select ONE of the science fiction texts we have read this semester and explain how the text uses cognitive estrangement to make a point about one or more real-world issues. What specific “truths” is the text uncovering, and how does it use science fiction elements such as technology, robotics, aliens, etc. to do so? What is the point the story is making and how does it make it using symbols, characters, metaphors, etc.?
The goal will be to explain just a little about what happens in the story and what it is about, but focusing more on analyzing certain aspects of the story to explain your interpretation of how the story is using cognitive estrangement, and what you think its message is to the reader about the real world.
1) A close reading of a text means that you look very closely at just one text, selecting important passages to quote and analyze closely for the way they lead to a particular understanding of the work as a whole. Every point you make in your argument should be supported by direct evidence from the text. Direct evidence includes direct quotes as well as brief descriptions of important events when necessary. Do not speak about the texts generally or in chronological or plot summary order (example: and then this happened, then that happened), but make particular points about the texts that build upon one another; if analyzing two texts, make sure to place them in conversation with one another rather than having two unrelated halves of a paper. It will be required that you use at least one or two quotes from the text you are analyzing in each body paragraph—no more, no less.
2) You are required to use TWO sources other than the story/novel that you select to write about. The research component of this assignment is meant to help you make your writing more informed. Things that you can research include: background on the history or social movement or on the genre of science fiction, etc.; author biographies; any outside ideas you want to bring in to your analysis (example: a social or psychological theory); or what other literary critics (especially scholars and experts) have said about the meaning/interpretation of the work. For example, you could quote what a professor said about how to interpret the story. The requirement for research is that sources must be either from the Broward College library (I will show you how to use the website) or from a website that ends in .edu. Websites that end in .org, .com, etc. will NOT be accepted (no Sparknotes or Wikipedia).
Requirements for writing this essay include: MLA formatting (including in-text citations and a Works Cited page); consulting the materials that I post on D2L under the Research Paper folder; using quotes that you explain and analyze; 1000 words minimum, double-spaced, using Times New Roman size 12 font. Please note that the Works Cited page will NOT count toward the word requirement.
Thesis Statement: Your paper is required to have a thesis statement. A thesis statement is a sentence that states your main argument. It should be located in your first paragraph (typically at the end of the first paragraph). This is not a statement that says: “this is what I will discuss.” Rather, it is an argument; in other words, it will concisely sum up your overall point in the paper. I will give you sample thesis statements. Remember, the most important thing to do when writing a thesis is to ask yourself: so what? What is my point? Make sure that your thesis answers this question.
Additional Requirements: Your paper must be proofread, perfectly formatted, and overall look as though a college student wrote it. It should have an introduction and a conclusion. These should be separate paragraphs from the body. I recommend using a 5-paragraph or 6-paragraph model for your paper. Do not write plot summary, but instead answer the big ideas on the paper prompt by analyzing the texts you’ve chosen. I am happy to read a rough draft over email and give you feedback, as long as you email it to me no later than 4 days before the final deadline.