Saturday, January 10, 2009

Assignment #1 (for Group 1)

You should have your initial draft posted by noon on Thursday.

Option #1: Write an essay on how Frankenstein helps us understand Bill Joy's essay. Frankenstein is, in part, concerned with the threats posed by new sciences and technologies, and is usually understood as being the first (or at least, first important) document in that genre, while Joy's essay is a very contemporary document in that genre.

The exact argument is up to you, but here are a couple examples.
  1. The fact that the terrible things anticipated in Frankenstein haven't actually happened should make us evaluate Joy's essay with a grain of salt - in short, he's wrong, or at least he exaggerates.
  2. The terrible things anticipated in Frankenstein have, in fact, come to pass (at least in some sense - you might use nuclear arms or genetic engineering as an example) - which should cause us to take Joy's argument very seriously.
Option #2: In conventional terms, Frankenstein is fiction and Joy's essay is non-fiction. Yet, Joy tells stories in order to make his points, and Shelley makes arguments, at least implicit ones. In this option, you should argue that we should understand Frankenstein as an argument, or Joy's essay as a piece of literature. You should both provide multiple examples from your text making your case, and explain what changes, or why it matters, when we reverse our habits in this way.

Option #3: Do some basic research on the figure "Prometheus" and what he represents (note that the subtitle of Frankenstein is "A Modern Prometheus"). Using both Joy and Shelley, argue that we should/should not take Prometheus as a desirable model for the future, especially in scientific/technological matters.

Note: If you use any outside sources, you must attempt to cite them correctly.
Here's a quick guide to citation:
At this early point, I will not be penalizing you for incorrect formatting when you're citing sources - I simply expect you to cite them when you use them, whether you get the details right or not.

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