FINAL PROJECT Assignment (250 points)



Hopefully, this course has made you contemplate what you value as an individual, what we value collectively as a civilization, and where the human race may be heading. As a culmination of the study of the literature this term, you will explore the readings further.


YOUR TASK: Choose ONE project to complete that will best illustrate your understanding and synthesis of the course.


OPTION I: The Scholarly Essay

Write an essay of 1500 words (min) that explores one of the essay choices detailed below. This is a scholarly work and should examine at least three of the works we read, though your argument may be made stronger should you analyze more. You should critically analyze, at minimum, THREE of the novels and stories. Use text-based evidence to develop and support your analysis. In your essay, no matter what the topic, you should explore: theme, characterization, symbolism, point of view, mood, tone, and any other literary elements that you may encounter. Remember, this is a literary analysis paper! Create a valid and interesting controlling idea (thesis) and prove it through your analysis.


Topic Options: (You may want to combine options—just have it pre-approved)

    1. Examine the “Last Man” motif as it appears in the works we read.  How are the readings commentaries on what we value as a society? Consider that many of society’s ills and positives have been eradicated and the characters have a clean slate. What do they do with it? What does it signify?
    2. Examine how technology impacts civilization.
    3. Compare Wells’ British The Time Machine, Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, and Stewart’s American Earth Abides. What classic values are being analyzed? What is the social commentary for each time and place?
    4. Find a theme. Compare a mix of the short stories with the novels thematically. Find the themes of interest to you and explore how they are developed in each of the works. This is your opportunity to make connections between the works…juxtapose and explicate…
    5. This novel is certainly a “disaster novel,” but it also falls under the sub-genre of the “cozy catastrophe,” a term used to describe a work where all but a tiny handful are destroyed. This allows us to focus on our interest and concern for these few for whom there is a sort of "happy ending" while cozily contemplating the wholesale extermination of the rest of the world.  Examine how the works fit the definition of a “cozy catastrophe.”
    6. Utopia or Dystopia? Compare the novels/stories to explore how man’s attempt to make things better turns sour. Or, ask yourself, “Is this work a utopia?” Choose a position and support it as you explore the works in a smart analysis.
    7. Post-apocalyptic speculative fiction provides a window from which to view the "stuff" of which humankind is made. What do the authors think mankind is made of? What is humanity? Civilization?
    8. How are the works apocalyptic texts? Refer to your definition of apocalypse to guide your analysis. What has been revealed? Research through the library 2-3 articles that address the idea of apocalyptic literature to serve as your guide.
    9. How are myth, science, and religion explored through the works?
    10. Many works of this genre read like survival manuals for a worst-case scenario. How do the works reveal (or not reveal) an attempt to preserve civilization and intellectual legacy in the face of the end?
    11. Examine how history repeats itself yet differently.
    12. Is this an ourobouros text?
    13. Create your own criteria for analysis. Have it approved before commencing. You might want to combine various elements from the above topics or implement a new idea of your own.


  1. Critical LENS: Choose a critical lens and apply it the THREE of the works we read/viewed and discussed listed above. Follow all the guidelines for a proper critical lens essay. Be sure to

·         Provide a valid interpretation of the critical lens that clearly establishes the criteria for analysis. Your thesis should indicate whether you agree or disagree with the statement as you have interpreted it without using “I.” It is possible to have some of the works agree and others disagree: this would be a compare & contrast.

·        Choose three works we discussed that you believe best support your opinion.

·        Use the criteria suggested by the critical lens to analyze the works you have chosen

·        Avoid plot summary. Instead, use specific references to appropriate literary elements (for example: theme, characterization, setting, point of view, symbolism) to develop your analysis

·        Organize your ideas in a unified and coherent manner

·        Specify the titles and authors of the literature you choose

·        Speak comparatively in your writing. Your task is to analyze three of the works through one thesis and compare them to each other through a controlling idea.


Lens Bank

"This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper." Write a critical lens analysis paper that utilizes T.S. Eliot’s famous poem, “The Hollow Men.”, or simply use this quote as your criteria for analysis following the critical lens format.


 “The purpose of the writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” – Bernard Malamud


"Every end is a new beginning." – Proverb


"It's never over ‘til it's over" – American Proverb


“Generations come and go, but the earth abides.” – Book of Ecclesiastes, The Bible


Agent Smith: I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species. I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area, and you multiply, and multiply, until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet, you are a plague, and we are the cure. -The Matrix (1999)


The ouroboros has several meanings interwoven into it. Foremost is the symbolism of the serpent biting, devouring, eating its own tail. This symbolizes the cyclic Nature of the Universe: creation out of destruction, Life out of Death. The ouroboros eats its own tail to sustain its life, in an eternal cycle of renewal. The ouroboros has several meanings interwoven into it. Foremost is the symbolism of the serpent biting, devouring, eating its own tail. This symbolizes the cyclic Nature of the Universe: creation out of destruction, Life out of Death. The ouroboros eats its own tail to sustain its life, in an eternal cycle of renewal.


 “This is not the end. This is not even the beginning of the end. But, it is, perhaps the end of the beginning.” -- Winston Churchill


"The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization." – Ralph Waldo Emerson


“The world is beautiful, but has a disease called man." – Friedrich Nietzsche


OPTION 2: Writing Fiction This task is truly only for those of you who consider yourselves a strong writer.


What if….? That’s what writers do. They consider what if this happened, or that, and build a thoughtful fictional world around their response.You have read short stories and novels that address the idea of the end. In addition, these works have also addressed ideas like: what man values, what man fears, how mankind survives, cyclic history, religion and science  (same? different?). These are all noble ideas, which you should address in your short story.


YOUR TASK:  Your assignment is to write a short story that makes us reflect about our world by presenting us with the end. Your story should enlighten us, warn us about the path we’re on, and/or make us question what we think we already know. Choose one or more of the essay topics above to guide your story. Your story should find a way to make it clear that you have digested the literature from this course.


Warning: this option will be graded with scrutiny! Do not think that because it’s “creative writing” instead of scholarly writing that it is easier. Your story should resemble a high-level, deep thinking story that we could find alongside “Heat death of the Universe,” Oryx and Crake, Earth Abides, “Nightfall,” etc. In other words, this is still an academic endeavor, a scholarly thought, and must reveal a thorough understanding of the works we read.