LITR 4368

Literature of the Future

Midterm Assignment 2017

This webpage constitutes this semester's midterm assignment, to be updated until Monday, 30 October, when paper copies will be distributed.

Official date: Monday, 6 November. Email submission window: any time from after class on Monday, 30 October,  due by 11:59pm, Wednesday, 8 November. (

Attendance not required on 6 November. Instructor keeps office hours 1-4. Bayou 2529-7; 281 283 3380;

Relative weight: 40-50% of final grade                    Format: email or in-class; open-book, open-notebook, open-website

Content: 2 essays from pre-midterm + Web Highlights

Essay 1: Complete Essay on Narratives of the Future (6-8 paragraphs): Compare & evaluate 3 narratives of the future

Essay 2: Begin Research Essay (4-7 paragraphs midterm total): Referring to course readings and outside sources, introduce and explain your learning on your selected personal / professional research topic (to be researched and extended for final exam)

Essay 3: Web Highlights (5-6 paragraphs): Review at least 3 student contributions from course website's Model Assignments

Special Requirements / Instructions:

All three essays must have titles.

Required textual references: Somewhere in your exam (mostly Essay 1), you must refer to Revelation, Parable, and Time Machine + 3-4 stories . Texts relevant to midterm include Scriptural Texts of Creation & Apocalypse (esp. Revelation), Parable of the Sower,  "Stone Lives," "Bears Discover Fire," "Somebody up there Likes Me," The Time Machine, "Mozart in Mirrorshades," "Garden of Forking Paths," "The Gernsback Continuum," and "Better Be Ready 'bout Half Past Eight."

You should refer to nearly all our texts at some point in your midterm, but esp. Revelation, Parable of the Sower, and The Time Machine.

Welcome to refer briefly to future-vision presentations & outside readings but not required. Keep returning to course texts for examples and analysis.

You may refer to course texts in abbreviated form, e. g. Parable, “Garden,” “Gernsback.”

Overlap between essays is possible, but be efficient.

Demonstrate that you've reviewed our course's instructional webpages on essential and associated terms by using terrms, definitions, and illustrations. Best exams in past semesters showed such knowledge, while struggling exams used course terms in brief, superficial ways or barely at all.

Email your answers to instructor at Most common email mistake: students send to “white” rather than “whiteC

·Attach appropriate word processing file(s) to an email for (Microsoft Word works, Microsoft Works doesn't)

and / or

Copy and paste contents of your word processing file into an email message to

Instructor acknowledges receipt of your midterm usually within a few hours. If you do not receive an email confirmation, make sure you sent your email-midterm to the right address:

Email problems? A problem or two with email is normal in a class this size. Don't panic—communicate. We'll work things out.

Spacing: No need to double-space, but OK if you do. All electronic submissions are converted to single-space for reading onscreen.  

Return of grades, etc.: Late in week of 13 November, check your email for midterm note and grade from instructor.

Midterm Content Details—Two Assigned Topics >
Two (2) Essays total

Essay 1: Complete Essay on Narratives of the Future concludes (5-8 paragraphs): Compare & evaluate 3 narratives of the future

Length: 6-8 paragraphs of 4-7 sentences each.

Describe and evaluate the three primary narratives for the future (Objective 1). Where and how do these narratives appear in our texts, how do they differ, and where or how do they overlap or combine?

Refer frequently to texts, terms, objectives, and course's instructional websites, esp. 3 narratives of the future compared.

What signs, terms, symbols, metaphors, sequences of events, time scales, and values distinguish one narrative of the future from another?

What literary and cultural attractions or appeals do these narratives make to different audiences? What are the sources or bases for their validity or authority? What downsides or detractions? Why or how do people identify with one or the other, or not?

What kind of future do these three narratives create for us as individuals, a nation, or a planet? What attitudes and behaviors follow from these narratives? (e.g., decline or progress? hope or fear? collective action or law of the jungle?)

Text requirements: Refer to at least two texts for each of the three narratives of the future. 

Scriptural Texts of Creation & Apocalypse, Parable of the Sower, & The Time Machine are required. You will lose credit if you don't make enough references to these texts to show you read and remember them.

Other texts that may also be included: "Stone Lives," "Bears Discover Fire," "Somebody up there Likes Me," "Mozart in Mirrorshades," "Garden of Forking Paths", "The Gernsback Continuum"; "Better Be Ready 'bout Half Past Eight." (At least 3 of these.)

References to Future-Vision presentations welcome but not required. 

Development / extension of pre-midterm Essay 1 for midterm:

Revise and improve what you wrote for premidterm Essay 1 according to instructor feedback and your own additional thoughts and examples. First drafts can usually be condensed and speeded up to reach their best material faster and cover more ground.

Extend your premidterm Essay 1 draft to include essential materials you were required to cover but didn't (e.g. texts, types of narratives, term definitions, etc.)

Add new paragraphs dealing with materials since premidterm up to midterm

       narrative (more on evolution; alternative futures)

       texts since midterm (The Time Machine, "Somebody up there Likes Me," "Mozart in Mirrorshades," "Garden of Forking Paths", "The Gernsback Continuum"; "Better Be Ready 'bout Half Past Eight")

Coordinate or unify new paragraphs with earlier pre-midterm paragraphs by reinforcing continuing themes or lines of thought, or by revising earlier paragraphs to anticipate changes.

Essay 1 will not be continued on final exam, so conclude by summarizing visions and learning regarding three future narratives.

Essay 2: Begin Research Essay (4-7 paragraphs midterm total): Referring to course readings and outside sources, introduce and explain your learning on your selected personal / professional research topic (to be researched and extended for final exam) 

Length: 4-7 paragraphs of 4-5 sentences each. (Final Exam Essay 2 will be 7-10 paragraphs)

Assignment: Describe & rationalize your choice of research topic, identify its appearance or significance in our course's readings and objectives, describe what you learned from outside sources regarding your research topic, and apply what you have learned to your personal / professional or our collective future.

"personal" = what you've learned or thought before + personal future

"professional" = application to student career, teaching career, or other professional plans

"collective" = application to our common future, how we work, survive, and learn together (or not)

If you're still having trouble with your topic, see suggestions in pre-midterm assignment. Your topic may shift or evolve naturally in relation to your research and analysis, but if your topic shifts drastically, at least acknowledge and explain the change.

Essay 2 will be continued on final exam, so conclude by anticipating what you may learn or look for next.

Text and Research requirements:

For the midterm, you must refer to at least two of our course texts and at least two outside sources with helpful information about your research topic.

For the final exam, you will revise and extend the draft you wrote for your midterm, adding at least two additional course texts and at least two additional outside sources.

More on course texts: Connect your topic or your interest in it to two or more of the texts we've read together in class. (For the final exam, you're expected to connect to two additional course texts since the midterm.) If your topic is so exotic that connections aren't easy, at least make the effort to indicate which of our shared readings come closest to connect.

"Outside sources" may include some combination of primary, secondary, or background sources from our course website, the internet, library research, and / or personal reading. The prestige and quality of these sources may vary widely, with varying effects on the quality of your essay, but a lot depends on how well you identify and integrate the ideas that catch your interest.

Primary sources might include fiction, films, video games, TV series, documentaries

Secondary sources might include a course term-page (e.g. science fiction, millennialism) and / or a previous Essay 2 written for the 2011, 2013, or 2015 Model Assignments. Other impressive possibilities include scholarly articles and books accessed through UHCL's Neumann Library have the most prestige and bring the most credit. Film or video documentaries on your subject count.

Background sources might include interviews with teachers or other knowledgeable acquaintances; encyclopedias, and companions to literature that provide basic generic, biographical, or historical information. Background sources on the Web start with Wikipedia or other more or less specialized websites providing common knowledge or basic information on varied topics. Documentation at such sites can lead you to more specialized sources.

(You don't have to do all three—just detailing options.)

Essay 3: Web Highlights (5-6 paragraphs): Review at least 3 student contributions from course website's Model Assignments

Assignment: Review at least 3 submissions from previous semesters' submissions on the course webpage’s Model Assignments page and write 5-7 paragraphs (total) on what you found and learned.

Requirements & guidelines:

Web Highlights essay must have a title.

  Review at least two midterm Essay 1s from previous midterms.

  Review at least one Research Essay (Essay 2) from previous midterms or final exams.

  “Review”: describe what interested you, where, why you chose it, what you learned. You may criticize what you found, but not required.

To identify passages, copy and paste brief selections into your web review or refer to them using names, locations, paraphrases, summaries, and brief quotes. (Both options in models.) Either way, highlight and discuss language used in the passages as part of your commentary. Critique what you learn.

What did you learn from reviewing model assignments that you didn't learn from in-class instruction?

Note on organization and grading: Some students fulfill assignment by going through 3 assignments individually, one at a time until finished, with few or no connections between the separate models.

Better submissions unify the three reviews into a whole, purposeful essay in which the learning experience of one review connects to the learning experience of another, and your entire learning experience is previewed and summarized in the essay's introduction and conclusion.

Successful submissions sometimes start by identifying a subject of special interest, then choosing Model Assignments that meet this interest.

Sample Web Highlights from other courses:

LITR 4328 American Renaissance 2016

LITR 4328 American Renaissance 2015

LITR 4340 American Immigrant Literature 2016 LITR 4340 American Immigrant Literature 2016


Evaluation standards: Readability, competence levels, content coverage and development, and thematic unity.

Readability & surface competence: Your reader must be able to process what you're explaining. Given the pressures of a timed writing exercise, some rough edges are acceptable, but chronic errors or elementary style can hurt.

Content coverage & development: Comprehension of subject, demonstration of learning, use of course resources including instructional webpages + interest & significance: Reproduce course materials accurately but refresh with your own insights, examples, and experiences.

Thematic Unity and Organization: Unify materials along a line of thought that a reader can follow from start to finish. Consult sites on Unity / Continuity / Transition & Transitions.