Science fiction provides some of the starkest reflections on the relationship between power, modernity and freedom, offering glimpses of dystopian futures in which modernity’s promise of freedom has instead led to a totalitarian future of domination and control. Compare and contrast the dystopian futures portrayed in The Matrix and Brave New World. What forms of power limit human freedom in these narratives, and how do they relate to the forms of power that inform critical theory? What kind of freedom is possible given this power, and how do the protagonists navigate their dystopian worlds to achieve (or not) emancipation?
Your paper should be organized as follows. In the first section (after your introduction), discuss how critical theory conceptualizes power and the modern forms of domination it enables, noting the role that ideology and false consciousness play undermining human freedom. In the second section, discuss how these forms of power are illustrated in both The Matrix and Brave New World. How do the practices of power and the forms of domination they produce differ in these two works? Finally, in the third section, discuss how emancipation is achieved or not by the protagonists in each story, and reflect on what this might tell us about the nature of power, domination and its relationship to freedom.
Your assignment is to compose a five to seven page paper of around 1,500 words (excluding title page and bibliography) that responds to the prompt given below. Be sure you answer ALL the questions asked in the prompt. You should submit your paper through Canvas (emailed papers will NOT be accepted). Whenever possible, cite the texts we used in the course, both the weekly texts and the other readings (any recognized citation format is acceptable). Please avoid citing the lectures directly. Outside research or sources are neither expected nor encouraged for this assignment.