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US - 12 - Becker: HG Wells: Assignment

Your Assignment

English 12 Elective:  British Literature and Visions of the Future


Essay Assignment on The Time Machine and The Machine Stops


Your first major essay of the year will deal with the works The Machine Stops and The Time Machine.  Our classes on these two works have taken two angles of analysis:  1) examining the historical context for and allusions in each story, and 2) examining the extent to which each story’s futuristic visions have come true.   The ideas of Marx and Darwin, the Industrial Revolution, the Victorian era, and the role of children in society all serve as important background to these works. Remember that The Time Machine also contains a number of literary and Biblical allusions. 


Your task starts with choices.  Choose one of the two works we have read, and then reexamine it using one of the angles of analysis described above. Your goal is to offer some insights that go beyond what we covered in class, and you will conduct some research to assist you in achieving this goal.  For the sake of clarity, the two options are summed up in A & B:


  1. In your chosen work, which aspects of the “vision” have proven to be prescient?  Focus on the social practices that grow (have grown) from technological change as opposed to focusing on basic technological inventions like the radio.  Focus on  ways that technological advances have caused regression (loss) in people’s lives. This topic involves researching the ways technology has already affected or might affect people in the present or near future.


  1. Explain one or both works as a response to certain historical events and cultural circumstances in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  Consider the tremendous changes resulting from the Industrial Revolution and technological change, and consider the implications of the many changes in their UNDERSTANDING of human life and society. Here your research will center on historical change in the nineteenth century.



Tuesday Sept. 13                  Topic Selection Due (thesis and outline)

Wednesday                            Drafting+ identify at least TWO solid sources you will use

Thursday                               Quiz on Literature studied this school year

Friday                                     Draft of body paragraphs including quotes & sources

Monday Sept. 19                   Peer Review in class

Tuesday Sept 20              Final Revision Activities in Class-Printed Final Draft Due at end of Class! No email copies!


We will work in the Library all week so that you can use laptops and speak with Library staff as needed.  If you want your teacher to read over an essay draft, schedule a meeting time well in advance!!!


Research and Sources

            In all cases you will be searching for relevant information from published books, mainstream journals, and especially the resources found through our school’s databases.  No Wikipedia here!  Our media center instructors can offer further suggestions on research strategies and practices.  A few general suggestions follow.

            If you are choosing the first approach, you might look for sources like a quality newspaper article on social practices and technology (try the NYT or The Wall Street Journal).  You might also look for sources that resemble the writing by culture critic Malcolm Gladwell.  Neil Postman and Bill McKibben are two media critics whose ideas might prove very useful for this topic.

            If you are choosing the second approach, you will look for historical summaries and literary criticism.  Your sources should be scholarly so that the material has been properly vetted.   Here our media center databases will be most useful, as will a few web pages sponsored by reliable colleges and universities. 





  • Creative title indicating main thematic focus
  • Introduction with catchy hook such as an anecdote or simile relevant to your futuristic or historical topic.
  • Mention of the title and author of the story or novel you are dealing with
  • Body paragraphs beginning with clear analytical topic sentences
  • Body paragraphs that use quotes to focus on HOW details/character actions/dialogue/allusions function to create meaning
  • The addition of quotes from your research to DEMONSTRATE how your work either draws on the past or predicts the future                                                            
  • In stronger essays, use of multiple short quotes and precise descriptive details in each paragraph (avoid long block quotes)
  • Proper setup for and citation of quotes
  • Logical organization of paragraphs (including clear transitions between points)
  • Avoidance of redundant, hyperbolic, and/or generic phrasing
  • Effective concluding paragraph-see class notes
  • Follow MLA guidelines and punctuation rules set forth in A Writer’s Reference or in Purdue’s OWL (
  • Works Cited Entries!
  • Proper format and heading; essay double-spaced in 12-point font
  • Length of FIVE pages
  • Avoidance of first and second person
  • Careful proofreading to eliminate spelling, grammar, and usage errors