LITR 4368
Literature of the Future

Pre-Midterm Assignment 2016

This webpage constitutes this semester's pre-midterm assignment, to be updated until Tuesday, 16 February, when paper copies will be distributed.

Relative weight: 10-20% of final grade

Format: email; open-book and open-notebook.

Date (window for email submission): 17-20 February. Email students can email the pre-midterm to any time after class on 16 February up to 11:59pm 20 February.

Content: Start 2 essays you'll continue in your midterm and final exam.

Essay 1: Course Content Essay: Narratives of the Future (2-3 paragraphs): Begin midterm Essay 1 comparing and evaluating 3 narratives of the future

Essay 2: Research & Reading Essay Topic Proposal  (1-2 paragraphs): Propose a personal/professional research topic in our course and readings (to be researched and extended for Essay 2 in midterm and final exam

Special Requirements / Instructions: Both essays must have titles.

Refer to at least one midterm answer from a previous class on course webpage's Model Assignments at some point in Essay 1. More than one such reference can be impressive. (The idea is to share something you learned from looking at the model midterms from previous classes.)

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

Overlap between essays is possible.

Show you've reviewed our course's instructional webpages on essential terms by using terrms and paraphrasing information provided. Of course you can't reproduce every term-page, but best exams in past semesters show this knowledge, while struggling exams either don't use course terms or use them in brief, superficial ways.

Email your pre-midterm submission to instructor at Most common 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)

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

Email acknowledgement of receipt: Instructor usually acknowledges receipt of your midterm within a few hours (unless you send it at an odd time). If you do not receive an email confirmation within 24 hours, make sure you sent your email 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.: Approximately 1-2 weeks after submission.

Pre-Midterm Content Outline—Two (2) Question Topics > Two brief essays total

Essay 1: Course Content Essay: Narratives of the Future (2-3 paragraphs): Begin midterm essay comparing and evaluating 3 narratives of the future

Length: 2-3 paragraphs of 4-5 sentences each.

Assignment: Begin drafting your midterm essay explaining our three primary narratives for the future: apocalypse, evolution, and alternative.

What do you understand so far about these narratives or their ideas about time as they appear in our course texts, class presentations, and in your visions or expectations of the future?

  How are you putting the materials together into a whole understanding? Consider emphasizing narratives as story-telling, story-telling as problem-solving.

At this stage of the semester, what do you best understand and what is most confusing or challenging?

So far we've barely studied "alternative futures," so concentrate on apocalypse and evolution, but welcome to look ahead briefly to alternative futures as inclined.

Special Requirements / Instructions:

Refer to something you learned from an "Essay #1" in Model Assignments. (What you learned may bear directly on future-narratives, or on what you learned about conceptualizing or organizing this essay assignment.)


Refer frequently to texts, terms, and objectives. Integrate terms, examples, themes. In defining or explaining terms, use links to instructional websites.

What signs, symbols, or metaphors, distinguish one narrative of the future from another? How may one narrative turn into the other? Where or how do these narratives overlap or conflict?

What literary and cultural attractions or appeals to apocalypse and evolution? What downsides or detractions?

What meanings do these three narratives create for our individual and shared futures? What attitudes and behaviors follow from these narratives? (e.g., decline or progress?)

Text requirements (for midterm): You must refer to Scriptural Texts of Creation & Apocalypse & Parable of the Sower. You may refer to either "Stone Lives" or "Bears Discover Fire" or both. References to Future-Vision presentations welcome but not required. 

Essential websites: narrative, symbols, apocalypse or millennialism, evolution, three narratives for the future, decline or progress?

Essay 2: Research & Reading Essay Topic Proposal  (1-2 paragraphs): Propose a personal/professional research topic in our course and readings (to be researched and extended for Essay 2 in midterm and final exam) 

Length: 1-2 paragraphs of 4-5 sentences each.

Assignment: Propose a topic relating to our course's content or the future in general that you want to learn and write more about for personal and / or professional purposes.

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

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

The topic should connect to our course objectives and texts, as your research sources are expected to include at least some of our course's readings.

Text and Research requirements:

For the midterm, you must refer to at least two of our course texts and to 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.

For this pre-midterm, you should write about what you want to learn, where or how you will look for information or ideas.

In any of these exams, you may refer to other stories, books, movies, TV, or other media that inform your knowledge of this subject or story-line.

Additional content requirements or suggestions for Essay 2 research proposal:

Explain why you chose your topic, where the idea came from, where you saw it in our texts so far (or later), and any previous experience reading about or otherwise experiencing this subject or area of study.

Consider other possible topics, or how your topic may evolve as you research it.

What theme(s), idea(s), aspect(s), or element(s) of our course intrigue you or matter most? Why? What issue(s) seem most important and worth reading and discussing? What do you learn about your interests or assumptions? How can you imagine Literature of the Future playing into your future?

Your emphasis may be literary, cultural-social-historical, personal, or combinations, but use examples from texts to illustrate and develop insights, and use terms and objectives to connect to the course.

Overlap with Essay 1 is possible.

Choosing a topic: The best way to start thinking of a possible topic for Essay 2 is to review what past students tried in previous summers (Model Assignments). You may use topics that have been used before and even refer to previous midterm essays for support and insight.

Other ways to choose a topic:

When writing Essay 1, pay attention to issues you want to write about but have to leave out or minimize.

Reflect on which readings you liked or remember most, and ask what about them interested or bothered you, and for what reason. 

For midterm and final exam, you will continue this topic in reference to texts read after the midterm. The topic can be varied according to what you see in those texts. If you change topics significantly, at least acknoweldge and rationalize the change.

Don't feel pressure to conform to views of instructor. The point of the essay is to show yourself learning.


Evaluation standards: Readability, competence levels, and interest.

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

Content quality: use of course resources (objectives, terms, lecture, discussion, instructional links, coverage of required texts.); comprehension of subject; demonstration of learning.

+ interest & significance: Make your reader want to process your essay. Make the information meaningful. Make everything matter to our study of literature and culture.

Thematic organization: Unify materials along a line of thought that a reader can follow from start to finish.