Thursday, September 20, 2007

Group Polemical Project

Groups of five will be set in class on September 24th. The project will include the following:

  1. reference to one ore more of the primary course texts,
  2. any one of Victorian essayists on the course reading list,
  3. Darwin's conception of either social degeneracy or progress,
  4. a polemical engagement with a present-day issue of either degeneration or progressivism,
  5. two thousand words per student or equivalent.

The assignment is to apply the ideas of the Victorian age -- as represented by one of the great prose writers, and with reference to one of the important novelists -- to any of the issues that our own society has with either progression or degeneration, and put in into a polemical form.

Inriguingly, the Victorians' debate over the death of God (which, as we are learning, is powerfully behind theAge's defining twin obsession with degeneracy and social progress) is not only vivid at this particular moment in Western history, but, in the form of books such as Richard Dawkins The God Delusion, Christopher Hitchens' God is Not Great, and Sam Harris' Letter to a Christian Nation, is polemical to an most extreme degree.

The project form can take the prosiac form of any of the current polemical books (Harris, for instance, has made his published polemic very brief), or can be creative in conception. There will be a intra-group peer status review of the Group projects in class on November 5th. The results of the peer review will be handed in to the Tutorial leader and form part of the grading of the project. The project is due in our penultimate class, November 26rd. The assignment is worth twenty percent of the Course grade.

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