As we wrap up our discussion of 1984, you will complete a final project that captures themes and concepts we have covered in our study of this dystopian novel. You will have an opportunity to present your project as either a creative representation of the novel, or in a more traditional written format (options 1, 2, and 4). Throughout the novel, we have discussed themes including privacy, censorship, freedom of expression, humanity and basic human rights. Additionally, we have analyzed government control, specifically in the fields of history and language, and how this regulation affects the thoughts and actions of those living under this control. This project asks you to engage with these ideas and present an analysis that addresses issues both in Orwell’s novel and our society.
Your final project will be due on Thursday, March 20.
1. George Orwell and Aldus Huxley offer similar predictions of totalitarian rule, but differ significantly in their beliefs about how we might get there and what we, as engaged citizens, should be concerned about. In a letter to Orwell after reading 1984, Huxley said the future will discover that:
infant-conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience … the nightmare of Nineteen Eighty-Four is destined to modulate into the nightmare of a world having more resemblances to that which I imagined in Brave New World. The change will be brought about as a result of a felt need for increased efficiency.
Which author’s dire predictions do you find to be more compelling? Who do you think was right? Revisit the first few chapters of Brave New World and refamiliarize yourself with Huxley’s world. Formulate an argument that argues whose predictions were more accurate, given the current state of the world, and if we should still be concerned about the issues that the novels raise. In your essay, you will need to summarize the central argument of both novels and then construct your own argument that evaluates the two options and argues for which warning we should be more concerned about and why.
2. Find an example of art/media/pop-culture that explicitly or implicitly references 1984. Compose a written analysis of the messages and themes conveyed in your chosen piece.
Your analysis should address the following questions:
- How is 1984 referenced? This should include direct quotes or references from both your chosen piece and the original text.
- What is the general theme or message of your piece? This part will vary greatly based on what form your chosen piece is. A song, for example, might have a message that you can pinpoint. If you were to choose a piece of architecture for your piece, the theme of the work would be interpretative in terms of the mood conveyed by the design and aesthetics of the structure.
- Based on your interpretation of 1984, does the reference/allusion that you are analyzing interpret 1984 correctly? Does the piece oversimplify the ideas that it is referencing? Perhaps it misinterprets them? Or maybe it is an incredibly effective use of 1984? What do you think?
Please attach a sample of what you are analyzing. This could be in the form of a photocopy, URL, CD, sketch, etc. depending on your topic.
3. Compose an original work of art that utilizes 1984 in some way. It could reference it explicitly or it could incorporate one of the fundamental ideas from the text. If you choose this option, you still must have a written analysis that explains your intention for the piece, how it employs and interprets ideas from 1984, and how successful you feel you are with the final product. The written analysis can be written as an informal assessment of your intentions and final product.
4. Read Orwell’s 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language” and then find a recent news article, speech, political advertisement, or other source that comments on a current event and demonstrates what Orwell would call “political language,” or intentionally vague or euphemistic language. Compose a written analysis evaluating how the use of language affects the meaning of the report, noting how this source manipulates language or breaks any of Orwell’s rules, using “Politics and the English Language” as support. Your analysis should explain what you think Orwell’s argument is and how your source violates what he proposes in his essay, and also address the consequences of such language on public thought.
Please attach a sample of (or link to) what you are analyzing.
Thursday 3/6 In-class work time
Tuesday 3/11 In-class work time
Thursday 3/13 Rough draft due / in-class work time
Thursday 3/20 Project due