There are simply too many imagined dystopias for us to consider in one semester, so to expand our discussion and give you the opportunity to apply what you’ve learned, we will develop a class podcast. As a large, out-of-class project, this assignment will give you significant opportunities to practice independent critical thinking and self-regulated learning, and as a small group project, it will give you practice at team-based learning and collaboration. Through this assignment you and your partners will critically analyze one imagined dystopia outside of class and reflect upon how one specific aspect of that imagined dystopia can be seen in the real world. This assignment will also give you the opportunity to practice writing for a non-academic audience, to present your research publicly, to practice your oral communication skills, and to enhance your teamwork skills.
Connected Course Outcomes
- Identify the defining characteristics of dystopia & analyze real & imagery contexts against that definition.
- Communicate effectively through writing & speaking.
- Use quantitative, empirical, and critical reasoning skills to solve problems.
- Apply socially responsible & ethical principles to promote equity & sustainability in ways that align with our mission as a historically Black and Catholic Institution.
- Demonstrate personal accountability & effective work habits.
For your podcast episode, you and your partners will select one imaginary dystopia and produce a podcast episode that offers a critical analysis of that imagined dystopia and explores a real-world analog of that imagined dystopia. Your imagined dystopia may be a novel, a short story, a film, a television/streaming series, or a video game. If you have a suggestion that is not on one of these lists, please speak to me about it right away.
For this project, teams of three to four students will be assigned.
Your final podcast episode must be at least 15-minutes long. Your podcast episode should be interesting and accessible to a general audience, which means you’ll need to find ways to engage your audience and to explain the aspects of your chosen dystopia in ways your audience can understand. This assignment will require research, beyond the outside reading. You will need to submit show notes along with your podcast episode, and you must cite your sources in those show notes. You will be graded on both the content of your episode and your effectiveness as storytellers. See the rubric below for details on assessment.
A draft of your episode’s script is due by March 19. After receiving feedback on the script, you will have until April 09 to record, edit, and upload your episode to the blog.
Although there are other options, below is a template you can follow as you develop and revise the script for your episode. Whether you follow this order or not, your episode will need to clearly and effectively include all of the following components.
- Catchy introduction, 2-4 min. Start with the analog – Why is this relevant today?
- Brief summary of the novel, 2-4 min. What’s the general story?
- Critique of the novel, 2-4 min. How well does it fit our expectations of a dystopia?
- Brief summary of your analog, 2-4 min. What’s the general story?
- Critique of your analog, 2-4 min. How well does it fit our expectations of a dystopia?
Getting Started (Jan 17 – Feb 05)
- Consider your options. On your own, consider review the libraries on this web site and identify five or six imaginary dystopias that sound interesting. Look up those and read more about them.
- Get to know your teammates. Once the teams have been assigned, it will be your responsibility to interact with your teammates. Find a way to communicate that works for everyone comfortably.
- * Post your selections by 2/13. With your partners, negotiate the top three choices and have one person from your team post that list to the discussion topic on Brightspace. Texts will be assigned on a 1st posted, 1st served basis.
Reading & Researching (Feb 05 – Mar 05)
- Pre-read your text. Before you read, do some research: about the creator; about the text.
- Read your text. Keep your primary tasks in mind: summarizing; evaluating; & synthesizing.
- Identify the analogue. Figure out the dystopian element within the novel that you think is related to something in contemporary society. Research the real world analog.
- * Complete Team Assessment #1 by 2/26. Complete the assessments of yourself and your teammates in Brightspace.
Writing & Revising (Mar 06 – Mar 26)
- Continue your research. Identify the real-world analogue from your imaginary dystopia and research it.
- Write your script. A good frame of reference for length is 2 minutes per page, so for a 15-minute podcast, aim for a draft that is 7-8 double-spaced pages, assuming you will include audio clips.
- Consider the medium. As you work, think about music, sound clips, and anything else that will make your episode engaging.
- * Submit your script draft by 3/19. Submit your completed draft to Brightspace for feedback.
- * Complete Team Assessment #2 by 3/19. Complete the assessments of yourself and your teammates in Brightspace.
- Revise your script. Use the feedback you receive to strengthen your script. You might consider taking your draft to the Writing Resource Center for further input.
Recording & Producing (Mar 27 – Apr 17)
- Practice your episode. Read over it slowly. Time yourselves. Know it well before you record.
- Record your episode. You can use any set up you want, but remember that quality counts.
- Produce your episode. Integrate the music and any sound clips. Keep it flowing.
- * Post your episode by 4/09. Follow the instructions to post your podcast episode to our course blog.
- * Complete Podcast Critique Activity #1 by 4/16.
- * Complete Podcast Critique Activity #2 by 4/23.
- * Complete Team Assessment #3 by 4/23. Complete the assessments of yourself and your teammates in Brightspace.
Your podcast episode is worth 30% of your final grade. Please review the rubric on Brightspace for full details. Your final episode must meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 15-minutes long.
- Include show notes with a brief description, all resources used, and links to more information.
- Be near professional quality, with clear spoken word, consistent audio levels, and smooth editing.
- Be submitted to the course blog as instructed before 10:00 pm on April 09.
In addition, your podcast episode will be evaluated in the following way:
|90–100||Exceptional||In addition to exceeding all of the basic requirements, an exceptional podcast will give poignant and researched information about the author and will clearly describe the main story of the novel with significant details about all major characters and events. It will offer an insightful analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the novel as dystopian literature, based on ideas learned and discussed in class. It will provide a meaningful discussion of a real-world analog to some part of the fictional dystopia, which will be told with a creative narrative structure with vivid details that enhance the listener’s appreciation of story. The episode will make several moves likely to interest a typical listener—including beginning with a strong opening and using different kinds of audio in ways that support and strengthen the storytelling.|
|80–89||Very Good||In addition to meeting all of the basic requirements, a very good podcast will provide basic researched information about the author and historical motivation for the novel and will clearly describe the main story, but sometimes gets bogged down in detail. It will offer a thoughtful analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the novel as dystopian literature, with reference to ideas learned and discussed in class, and will provide a reasonable discussion of a real-world analog to some part of the fictional dystopia, which will be told with a clear narrative structure with details that add to the story.The podcast will make several moves likely to interest a typical podcast listener, including using one or two pieces of audio in unexpected ways that support the storytelling.|
|70–79||Acceptable||In addition to meeting some of the basic requirements, an acceptable podcast will give some mention of the author and/or speculate on the historical motivation for the novel and will describe some elements of the main story, but might misunderstand some parts of the text. It will show some understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the novel as dystopian literature, and will attempt to make a connection with a real-world analog but offer no real insight, which will be told mostly just as a presentation of facts with few, if any, details. The podcast will make some attempts to interest a typical listener, but these may or may not all work.|