Inferno by Dante Alighieri, Trans. Robert Pinsky (2000)
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)
the Medieval Invention of the Self" by Gary Gutchess (online)
"Brave New World: A Defense
of Paradise Engineering?" by David Pearce (online)
Develop your own specific topic based on either an expressive, objective, or
persuasive approach to the Inferno and Brave New World. Your paper should engage
both of the assigned readings in some depth. Research to supplement your own
commentary is strictly optional, but if you do include researched material from
a source other than our textbook, you are responsible for documenting it correctly
using MLA style parenthetical documentation.
Develop a paper that explores your own understanding of the relevance of each
of these works. Discuss your personal opinions, responses, and feelings about
the themes, characters or situations you encounter in the readings. Explore
ways in which these works resonate with your understanding of contemporary American
Develop a paper that analyzes or interprets the meaning of one or both of the
works assigned (Inferno and Brave New World).
- Write a comparative
- Trace the development
of a common theme through both works.
- Present an objective
interpretation of one or both works.
- Write a thematic analysis
of one or both works.
- Write a critique of
one or both works.
Identify the ambiguity in at least one of the works on the reading list and
then argue for a particular interpretation. Acknowledge other interpretations
but prove, by your close analysis of details in the text, that your interpretation
is a strong one. Argue for a particular reading of one or more of the works
- Create and describe
an alternatively structured Inferno. The Hell you envision and describe may
be very different from Dante's but it should, like Dante's, include your vision
of a comprehensive system of "punishment."
- Create and describe
an alternative utopia or dystopia to the one Huxley describes.
Topics: Paper 2
are meant to be suggestive, not exclusive.)
- What seems eerily familiar
to you about the Brave New World? What connections can you make between the
world Huxley invents and our own present society?
- Does the moral order
Dante establishes in the Inferno satisfy your own moral consciousness? How
might you personally rearrange the hierarchy of "sins" to be punished,
or change the punishments themselves to better suit our modern world?
- You can respond expressively
to the criticism that the Inferno and Brave New World "justify torture."
- You can establish expressively
whether Brave New World represents a vision of "utopia," "dystopia,"
or some combination of the two.
- Compare/contrast the
theme of individuality, free will, or rebellion in Brave New World and the
- Compare Dante's friendship
with Virgil in the Inferno with Bernard Marx's friendship with Helmholtz Watson
in Brave New World.
- Trace the theme of "dehumanization"
in the Inferno or in Brave New World, or compare/contrast how the theme is
developed in each work.
- Compare/contrast Beatrice
in the Inferno and Lenina Crowne in Brave New World.
- Interpret the social
role that science plays in Brave New World, then compare/contrast its role
in the novel with its role in our own society.
- Interpret the meaning
of "progress" in Brave New World. Relate the notion of "progress"
you find to the modern concept of "transhumanism."
- Argue that Dante's Inferno
may still be relevant for modern readers who may reject its Christian theology
and medieval cosmology.
- Argue that the system
of "punishments" described in the Inferno does or does not represent
a form of "perfect justice."
- Argue that Brave New
World is a "utopia," a "dystopia," or both.
- Argue for or against
"happiness" and "stability" as the basis for a utopian
- Argue that the seed
of Huxley's Brave New World is planted right here in our own modern world.