Friday, September 13, 2013

Prompts for Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Week 1

Prompt 1: DADES and Brian Aldiss

Brian Aldiss, who is himself an important science fiction author as well as a SF critic and historian, defines science fiction as follows:

Science fiction is the search for a definition of mankind and his status in the universe which will stand in our advanced but confused state of knowledge (science), and is characteristically cast in the Gothic or post-Gothic mode [Aldiss, 1].

Citing multiple passages and showing detailed knowledge of the text, argue for or against Aldiss’ definition, based on the centrality or unimportance (as you see it) of clearly defining what humanity is in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep - while paying attention to the latter part of Aldiss’ definition.

Prompt 2: Androids as Metaphor

Showing detailed knowledge of the text and making use of citations, argue that the androids are a metaphor for something (presumably something in PKD’s own world/culture - you may benefit from keeping the publication date in mind). Note that if you don’t the androids should be taken at all metaphorically, this prompt isn’t a good choice for you. Note also that you can use other aspects of the text (say, Buster Friendly, or the Dust) to help us understand what the androids mean.

Prompt 3: Researching DADES

Using academic sources only, probably from Pitt’s library (that is, an actual book, or an article from a peer-reviewed journal), present research relating to the novel, or Philip K. Dick’s own life, that you think would help the class, and that is at least moving toward an argument.  To put it another way:  it’s fine to spend most of your space simply presenting one or several interesting sources, but you need to also, at the very least, show us the beginning of an argument, or to pose a question or series of questions which would lead to an argument.  A 75% / 25% division between research and argument would be fine, although I’d be skeptical of a 90% / 10% division.

Your sources should be obviously serious and substantive - at least 20 pages of academic writing, and probably more.  If you’re using a book, you shouldn’t necessarily read the whole thing, but read at least the introduction, and whatever material deals with a topic of interest to you.

I suggest you begin looking for books here, or articles here.

  1. Aldiss, Brian and David Wingrove. Trillion Year Spree: The History of Science Fiction. London: Victor-Gollancz Ltd., 1986. Page 26.

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