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T1 Essay Questions

Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies

EN2F5/EN3F5 Introduction to Alternative Lifeworlds Fiction

Assessed Essay Topics

Term/Essay 1 Download

Intermediate year: 3000 words

Finalists: 4000 words.

Consult essay deadlines on departmental website for due date.

The following topics are suggestions. You may modify them, or devise one of your own, but should do so only in consultation with your seminar tutor (either by email or in person).

While you may range as widely as you like in AL texts, not necessarily confining yourself to books studied on the module, you should make reference to at least TWO texts studied during TERM ONE.*

*Unless answering the final question (14).

1. “The science fictional world is not only one different in time or place from our own, but one whose chief interest is precisely the difference that such difference makes.” Carl Freedman, Critical Theory and Science Fiction (xvi-xvii)

Using this statement as your guide, write an essay exploring its application to at least two texts we have covered this term.

2. “La Jetée takes place in a no-place (u-topia) in no-time (u-chronia): the time and place of the fairy tale. It is dystopia, with the hope of utopia. Or, it is utopia cut by the threat of dystopia.” — Carol Mavor, Black and Blue: The Bruising Passion of Camera Lucida, La Jetée, Sans Soleil and Hiroshima Mon Amour (pp.9-11) How do AL texts critically investigate the concept of utopia?

3. How do AL texts question ideas about reality and/or the real through literary form?

4. How do AL texts use the future/futurism to question and explore ideas about history or specific historical events?


Nnedi Okorafor, Lagoon (p.128).

Write an essay on the significance of natural resources in at least 2 term one texts.

6. What relations are there between AL texts and earlier cultural modes e.g. fairytale or myth or romance?

7. Write an essay demonstrating how AL texts offer and present critiques of capitalism and/or modernity.

8. “Was this another example of her being exploited, used like a piece of brute equipment?” Under the Skin (p. 152)

Write an essay exploring at least two AL texts from the perspective of feminist and/or class critique.

9. “My world, my Earth, is a ruin. A planet spoiled by the human species. We multiplied and gobbled and fought until there was nothing left and then we died.”

Keng, The Dispossessed, Ch 11.

How might we see AL texts as environmentally or ecologically minded?

10. Write an essay on the importance of one of the following in Term One texts: Time Travel; Empire and/or Colonialism; Drugs; Technology; ‘Race’ and/or Racism; Science and/or the scientist; Anarchism and/or non-hierarchical social relations; Sex and/or Sexuality; Language and/or Communication; Warfare and/or Militarism; Memory; Folklore and/or fantasy; Body modification; Food; the Family; Landscapes; the City

11. EITHER: How do AL texts explore the idea of ‘first contact’ between humans and alien species?

OR: Write an essay focussing on the role and figure of the alien in at least two AL texts studied this term.

12. Write an essay on the treatment of the superhero/superhuman abilities in at least two AL texts. Take some time to critically reflect on the positive and negative elements of such figures.

13. In what ways does biology or evolutionary ideas form a crucial element of AL texts we have studied this term?

14. Make a case for the inclusion of a text you have read/seen/played that is not on the syllabus. Your essay must refer to at least one set text from Term One by way of comparison. (“Text” is not necessarily confined to a work of fiction such as a novel. It can also mean a play, poem, etc., but also non-fiction work, or films, video games, etc. – run it by your tutor first!)