Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Paper Topics / Ethical Analysis

I have spent a considerable amount of time pondering what I should choose for my paper topic, and have stumbled on an ethical question. Is it ethical to analyze a work of literature from a perspective that you fundamentally disagree with as long as you make an effort to do so to the best of your abilities? For example, after overcoming my initial horror and disgust for "Spar" I attempted to find a proper lens through which to view it. After thinking about it, I realized that "Spar" read with a Marxist interpretation is a fairly interesting metaphor. The alien could represent the owners of the means of production, and its actions the bourgeois attitude of the wealthy to the suffering of the lower class. I see a good amount of potential in that analysis for a respectable paper. However, as a Libertarian, I am in fundamental disagreement with the Marxist perspective. I do not believe that society is in a constant state of class-warfare. Would it be ethical for me to pursue that line of analysis in a paper for this class?

As it is, I am thinking about doing a paper on the use of psychology in "It Takes Two" and "The Pelican Bar." Both are obviously unethical uses of our current knowledge of psychology, but I would like to examine the extent both are possible and talk about their implications for what it means to be "human". It is common for Science Fiction to portray the decline of civilization through the rampant growth of technology, in fact the entire genre of cyberpunk is essentially grounded in this portrayal. It is interesting that two of the first stories the anthology revolve around a different type of science being abused.

I would really appreciate any comments that you might have regarding either the ethical dilemma or the psychology topic idea!

1 comment:

Andy Duncan said...

I don't think you have to be a Marxist to find Marxist readings of texts occasionally useful and insightful (ditto Freudian readings, narratological readings, Christian readings, etc.). Criticism can be separate from ideology, and I don't think it's an ethical transgression to acknowledge this.

On the other hand, Marxist criticism can be pretty dry and unhelpful, and can consist mainly of hanging labels on things (ditto Freudian criticism, narratological criticism, Christian criticism, etc.). In this case, I'm not sure a Marxist reading of "Spar" would carry you very far -- unless you're far more enthusiastic about that reading than you seem to be!