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History homework

This week’s DQ is actually 2-in-1, worth a potential total of 8 marks. This is because the idea of dystopia represents a significant shift in how (many) humans viewed the future, and as I suggested in class might be a key characteristic of the 20th century. Even as progress seemed to mark so many developments of the 1800s — in science, medicine, food production, knowledge, communication etc. — still we seemed to produce dark and fearful visions of the future, for example fearing that our technological achievements would/might eventually turn (rebel?) against us…..

With that in mind, please post a response to each of the following questions:

1. In the In Class folder for Week #11 you can find a link to Mojo’s Top Ten Dystopian Movies, which we viewed in class (right-click and open). Watch this again. Which of the 10 movies shown would you remove from the list (briefly say why), and which film of your own choice would you replace it with (and again say why)? Also, say which of the 4 dystopian categories we discussed in class — Totalitarian, Technological, Ecological, Post-Apocalyptic — best applies to your own choice of movie.

2. Read the short story, ‘Civilization’ by Vylar Kaftan, that I handed out at the end. If you didn’t pick up a copy, have lost it, or would prefer to read an online version of it, here’s a link: http://www.vylarkaftan.net/bibliography/2007-2/civilization/.

At the end of the 1st section, you have a choice of opting for Tradition or for Radicalism. Choose either of these and then go to the next section as directed. Read this next section and, at the end, again follow the directions. Sometimes you will have to make another choice. Please keep track of the order of the numbered sections you follow (e.g. 1, 5, 7….. 16 etc.)

Once you have come to the end, go back to the first section and this time choose the opposite option (i.e. Tradition or Radicalism) and again follow the instructions (it should go quicker this time, as you’ve already read the sections!) Again keep track of the order and outcome.

Here’s the question: in class we discussed how dystopias are not so much the opposite of utopias, but instead they start off as attempts to build a utopia (think of the Watchbird film and the hope of eradicating violent crime) but end up going wrong, very wrong. In your opinion, do your two readings of Kaftan’s ‘Civilization’ suggest that any attempt to build a utopian civilization is doomed to failure, or did your own selections suggest that avoiding some form of dystopian future is avoidable. Briefly explain your answer.

Good luck — please post by this Thursday at 8:30 Am !

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