Biocultural Analysis

 

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Goal

Explore biocultural aspects of humanity through an analysis of your chosen movie, series episode(s), book, or graphic novel.

Instructions

Students will analyze the biocultural component(s) of a story of their choosing (suggestions provided below) in a 4-5 page paper (1000-1250 words) comprised of the sections outlined below. You do not need to follow APA structuring rules for a research paper (APA applies only to the References), but you should include an introductory and concluding paragraph, as well as section headers. Please download and use the Biocultural Analysis TemplatePreview the document in its current format for your paper. This assignment has a grading rubric to help guide you.

  • Media summary:
    • Who are the main characters, what is the setting/context, is there an important backstory, and are there any key cultural or technological parameters? What significant events occur in the story?
    • This section should be limited to half or less of your paper. This assignment is a critical analysis of a biocultural phenomenon(s), not a book/movie report.
  • Biocultural phenomenon explored in the story:
    • The story chosen should have an underlying moral or running theme that explores a biocultural phenomenon of humanity. Biological components may be physical or mental, microevolutionary or macroevolutionary. Cultural components may be prehistorical, historical, contemporary, or hypothetical. This section should define the term biocultural, and go into detail explaining how these biological and cultural factors are interconnected.
  • Real world implications:
    • What does the story have to say about the human condition in the present and near future? What lessons or warnings might be gleaned from its content? Are there any current or recent events which might give the original intent of the story new or amplified meaning? Support your conclusions with credible sources.

       

Suggested Media

Here is a short list of some of my favorite stories which have biocultural components. You do not have to adhere to this list, nor does your story have to be science fiction in nature (I just happen to love science fiction).

  • Movies:
    • Soylent Green (1973) – What does the other side of global warming look like?
    • Logan’s Run (1976) – What happens when you regulate society’s reproduction and death?
    • Gattica (1997) – What happens when society develops a class of genetically modified elites?
    • Idiocracy (2006) – Are we evolving to become less intelligent?
    • Enemy Mine (1985) – Is it biological or cultural differences that separate us?
    • The Congress (2013) – What happens when digital imagery replaces people and drugs replace reality?
    • Elysium (2013) – What happens to humanity when the gap between the rich and the poor is amplified? 
    • Sleep Dealer (2008, Spanish) – What happens when we can get our human labor virtually?
    • Oblivion (2013) – How do we know our understanding of reality is real?
    • Avatar (2009) – What happens when we discover a new people?
    • Total Recall (1990) – What might a Mars colony look like?
    • Wall-E (2008) – What happens to humanity when the planet is completely trashed?
    • Chappie (2015) – Is the human condition unique to humanity?
    • Warm Bodies (2013) – Can desire or despair determine our fate?
  • TV or Web Series:
    • Black Mirror (Netflix) – Amplifies contemporary culture in stand alone episodes.
    • The 100 (CW) – Envisions a post-nuclear war society.
    • Star Trek (Original or The Next Generation Series) – Examines moral, cultural, and technological issues of humanity.
    • The Walking Dead (AMC) – Explores the line between civility and savageness.
    • Humans (AMC) – Examines discrimination, consciousness, and what it means to be human in a world with human-like androids.
  • Books
    • Clan of the Cave Bear (Earth’s Children Series), by Jean M. Auel – Envisions life in ice age Europe.
    • The Eye of Minds (Mortality Doctrine Series), by James Dashner – Envisions a future where humans spend more time in a virtual reality the in the the real world.
    • Divergent Series, by Veronica Roth – Explores whether or not we can we segregate, compartmentalize, and control humanity’s personalities.
    • Next, by Michael Crichton – Considers the ramifications of genetic technology.
    • Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams – Examines humanity from an otherworldly perspective.
    • 1984, by George Orwell – Considers the human condition in a hyper-controlled world. 
    • Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury – Explores the consequences of a society where information is completely controlled by the government.
  • Graphic Novels
    • Bitch Planet, by Wilson, Peter, and Cowels – Envisions a future where women are banished to another planet for noncompliant behavior.
    • March, by Lewis, Aydin, and Powell – Tells the story of the civil rights movement from Senator John Lewis’ perspective.

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