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Brave New World Paper Assignment

By Gen Nelson
Germantown Friends School, Philadelphia, PA

I use Aldous Huxley's Brave New World as a summer reading book for my Advanced Biology class. In September, my students write a paper in which they analyze the themes in this book as they relate to one of the questions below. I find that this assignment sets the stage for my course very nicely, and we return to the questions of how science, technology and society are related throughout the year.

Choose one of the topics below and write a 2-4 page, typed, double spaced or NEATLY handwritten paper. Be sure to cite specific pages from the book to support your points.

  1. Write a scientific analysis of ONE of the technologies described in Brave New World. This book was originally published in 1932. Choose one of the technologies described by Huxley (such as the Bokanovsky process, in vitro embryo development, Neo-Pavolovian Conditioning, hypnopaedia, soma etc.) and discuss how modern technology compares with the technology of Huxley's Brave New World.You will have to do some research about current technologies in order to answer this question.

    1. What aspects of Huxley's vision have become possible in the 1990's and what aspects are still impossible?
    2. What barriers, if any, currently prevent Huxley's technological vision from becoming reality?
    3. What are the implications of this particular technology for society?

  1. What is the difference between SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY? Compare and contrast the role played by EACH of these in Brave New World and in our world.

    1. How do the roles of science and technology in Brave New World differ from the roles of science and technology today?
    2. What is Huxley trying to say about the relationship between science, technology and society?
    3. What are the implications of Brave New World for our current society?

  2. The title "Brave New World" and John's comments in Chapter VIII, "O Wonder!...How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is!...O brave new world that has such people in it." are allusions to The Tempest  by William Shakespeare. Discuss Huxley's purpose in using this play as the center of this novel.

    1. What does Huxley mean by the "brave new world"?
    2. What lesson about the future is Huxley presenting in this novel, particularly through the character of John, the Savage?
    3. What warning does Huxley try to impart through John?
    4. To what degree is this warning relevant for today's society?

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