The Social Contract in Fiction
Fiction is a Petri dish for the human condition. Authors of fiction are like scientist gods, sprinkling bits of humanity across fertile ground to see what takes root and how it grows. We all have a favorite piece of fiction—book, game, TV show, graphic novel, or film—that speaks to us about what it means to be human. Whether that favorite is comic, tragic, or something in between, it expresses something important to us about our existence and how we experience it.
This week, we are studying the concept of the social contract (the agreement between a given group of people about how they will function in relation to one another). Although most works of fiction don’t explicitly mention a social contract, most of them do include some form of one. Think about the social contract as it’s expressed in the world of the TV show Friends: A bunch of self-interested people find happiness through working as a team. Or the social contract as it’s expressed in the more recent Breaking Bad: A lone wolf preys on a society that has failed him morally and financially. Each of these works of fiction expresses a world view in terms of how people are (or are not) responsible for one another.
What is your favorite work of fiction, and how is the social contract expressed therein? See if you can state the social contract in a sentence that relates the individual to the group as in the examples above. What does this work of fiction seem to want you to learn or remember (through laughter, horror, tears, or introspection) about the human condition via this social contract?
This assignment is a little more free-form than our first two assignments. There is no set structure for it. However, it is an academic paper, so it should have an introduction with a clear thesis that leaves no mystery about what you will put forth; body paragraphs that are ordered and connected to support the thesis; and a conclusion which reflects on your findings. You should assume that your reader has a passing knowledge of your favorite piece of fiction, but you should briefly explain things like character (who’s important and why), setting (time and place), and conflict (the reason people are interacting as they are) so that there are no unsupported leaps in logic. You should use examples as you need them to illuminate your assertions. You can find these examples in the fiction itself, for example, paraphrasing the climax of a novel or quoting important dialogue from a movie.
You MUST USE evidence from John Locke and/or Thomas Hobbes, whom we are covering this week (see our lesson and/or use outside sources), to support your ideas about the social contract in the work of fiction. Their ideas may or may not dovetail with the social contract as expressed in the fiction you’re covering. You can use them as comparison, contrast, or both. You MUST CITE their works where you refer to it.
Your focus here should be explaining your favorite work of fiction in the context of the social contract. You don’t have to convince your audience that this is the best work of art of all time, just that it holds specific ideas about how individuals do or should interact in a given group.
This assignment is three to five pages. Evidence (cited) from your work of fiction and support (cited) from Locke should be used to illustrate your ideas, not in place of them. APA format.
RubricGreater Good AnalysisGreater Good AnalysisCriteriaRatingsPtsThis criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomePurposeThis paper must have a clear purpose that carries from the thesis through the body paragraphs to the conclusion. The purpose is to connect a work of fiction with its unique social contract, using Locke as support.35 ptsFull Marks0 ptsNo Marks35 pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeDevelopmentThesis, body paragraphs, and conclusion do the work of exploring and supporting the paper’s purpose. The overall argument is structured so that paragraphs build the thesis’ position logically, with ample detail.35 ptsFull Marks0 ptsNo Marks35 pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeSupportAnalysis shows depth of critical thought. Quotes or paraphrases from Locke and Hobbes are chosen and contextualized by the paper writer’s own words to strengthen the argument. Any material from Locke and Hobbes is cited. Course or outside material (e.g., quotes or paraphrases from the work of fiction) is clearly referenced and cited.35 ptsFull Marks0 ptsNo Marks35 pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeGrammar, Mechanics, and StyleGrammar refers to correct standard American usage, for example, subject/verb agreement and correct parts of speech. Mechanics refers to correct idiomatic usage; for example, capitalized proper nouns, word choice, and word order. Style refers to dynamic writing that avoids passive constructions and maintains the reader’s interest via generous use of detail.20 ptsFull Marks0 ptsNo Marks20 pts
Total Points: 125PreviousNext