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Cultural Responses to the Age of Unravelling: A Final Research Essay

Choose one of the following assignment areas for your essay. (You may also choose your own research subject, but please run it by me first.)

Please choose a cultural response to the Age of Unravelling to explore in more depth. By cultural response I mean a response in some way to the age we are living through, whether that is a chosen way of life, a form of activism, an artistic response, or other. Use this project to investigate something you are interested in or would like to learn more about!

Please note: Your essay is not simply a report or survey. You must come up with a thesis that states an argument or claim about your topic, which you then develop with three to four main points and supporting evidence from your research.

I’m also open to creative projects—e.g., making a PowerPoint presentation on your subject of choice. Length: 8 to 10 minutes. You do not have to present it; you simply submit it to my email address as you would an essay.

  1. How are documentary films investigating some aspect of the unravelling of our time (you could explore a film like The Corporation, which deals with the power of multinationals)? For this topic, you will need to view and discuss at least oneother documentary film than the ones we viewed in class, comparing and contrasting their content, their approaches, their structure, etc. You must show in what ways the films differ in their approaches (not just their content) and whether you think these approaches are effective.

  2. How are eco-artists exploring or responding to the ecological and climate emergencies? Artists in many disciplines are producing highly imaginative and provocative works. Examples include the Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson and the Japanese-Canadian artist Haruko Okano. Describe the work of one or two of these artists, analyzing their approach, the materials they use, and how their works are a responseto the increasing precariousness of our natural world.

  3. What movements are emerging in response to perceived failures by governments to adequately address the ecological and climate emergencies? Examples include the Extinction Rebellion movement that began in the UK, the Sunrise Movement in the US, and the Sustainabiliteens movement in BC.

    a. Choose ONE of these organizations/movements and discuss how and when it was created, what its strategies have been and whether they have been effective, and what the public/government response has been

    b. Compare and contrast the creation, strategies, and public/government response to TWO of these movements/organizations.

  4. How have ecovillages and similar intentional communities in Canada or elsewhere anticipated the crises the planet is now experiencing? What principles or values have they chosen to live by? In what ways do these ways of life address/not address the challenges that humans face in today’s world? Choose TWO of these ecovillages/intentional communities to compare and contrast.

You will need to:

  • narrow your topic for what is a short essay (6–7  pages)

  • come up with a thesis, perhaps phrased as a question that you want to answer.

  • use a minimum of foursources (not including Wikipedia or dictionaries). At least two of those sources should be academic journals. Be sure you are using credible sources such as the ones we have used in class (in other words, don’t rely on brief newspaper articles or stories!). If you haven’t done this before, either make an appointment with a writing tutor or speak to a librarian for help in using databases.

Be sure to include in-text citations in your essay and include a reference list. Follow MLA or APA format using the Purdue OWL website if you need examples. There are also a number of Youtube videos about formatting.

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