Research PAPER and Short Story Assignment

This assignment has three components:

  1. A proposal that identifies the type of science or technology your assignment will address, explains its thematic relevance, and identifies some of the key literature you will consult (due March 5).

  2. A short story, of no more than 1000 words, depicting an apocalyptic scenario of your own choosing.

  3. A supporting research paper, of no more than 4000 words, explaining the scientific context and HPS themes to which your story responds (2 & 3 both due on May 8)

You may set your story in any historical or future era you wish. The only limitation is that is must respond to real scientific developments and be supported by peer-reviewed literature in both scientific and HPS fields.

Beyond this course, you can expect to confront claims about both the promise and the peril of science and technology. The course is designed to develop tools to confront such claims. This assignment prompts you apply the analytical tools we’ve developed in this course to new material and to reflect broadly on the relationship between science/technology and cultural expression.

A successful proposal will:
-  Identify a general topic area that you will consider (i.e., bioengineering, information technology, nuclear weapons, environment, etc.)
-  Identify a theme within that topic area (i.e., scientists’ responsibility, boundary between the artificial and the natural, technological determinism, etc.) and explain how it applies to the topic
-  Assess the theme’s importance
-  Explain what you expect your short story to do. What will readers come away with?
-  Include a bibliography of supporting scientific and HPS literature

A successful short story will:
-  Represent some sort of apocalyptic scenario
-  Be inspired by actual science
-  Articulate a theme relevant to the course

NB: This is not a creative writing course; accordingly, you will not be assessed on the basis of whether your short story achieves literary polish. The purpose of this exercise is to have you step into the shoes of the authors we have read this term so that you can better understand how their brand of cultural criticism works. Your story will be assessed only insofar as it meets the above criteria; the bulk of the assessment will come from your supporting research paper.

A successful research paper will:
-  Explain how the story comments on science and/or technology as cultural institutions
-  Contain a crisp thesis statement in the first paragraph. Your thesis statement should be your answer to the question you posed.
-  Cite and discuss the relevant peer-reviewed scientific literature that serves as a basis for the story
-  Cite and discuss the relevant peer-reviewed HPS literature that provides the thematic background for the story
-  Draw connections between these two bodies of literature
-  Use specific examples from the work to show how it connects to its contemporary scientific context

- Submit a research proposal to me by March 5 (we will visit the library on March 3 to help you locate resources).
- I will return your proposal with detailed comments by March 17.
- Paper and story are due together on May 8, 5:00 p.m., by email or in my office.