The critical essay, due the last week of class and submitted within the last lesson in the **CONTENT*** folder, will be your most important assignment for this course. It will be available for submission from the beginning of Monday until the end of Thursday during the final week of class (8/1 – 8/4). A lecture providing advice for writing critical essays in general is included here:


The critical essay, to be submitted as a double-spaced Word-compatible file through Blackboard via SAFEASSIGN, should be between 1500 and 3000 words in length for undergraduates, 6000-10,000 for graduate students. . It should be in the form of a well-written essay, with a clearly stated thesis and a convincing argument in favor of that thesis. References to outside sources, supporting your argument and demonstrating your research, should be included. MLA style is recommended, but any style is acceptable as long as it is consistent throughout the essay and contains sufficient information to identify the outside source.


In addition, note that the essay will be graded according to the following rubric:

Opening paragraph clearly states a thesis for the essay: 10 pts.

Essay shows signs of supporting research: 10 pts.

Essay is well-written and uses proper grammar: 10 pts.

Proper use of evidence in the argument: 10 pts.

Argument is rhetorically effective and convincing: 10 pts.


The following suggested topics are intended to give students an idea of the kinds of topics that are likely to make successful critical essays. These topics my be used directly, or they simply may be used as guidance for students who wish to develop their own topics.

  • Choose one films from our syllabus about Cold war nuclear fear and one about climate change. Discuss the ways in which these films suggest similarities and/or differences between the threats posed by nuclear war and by climate change.
  • Choose any film from our syllabus and explain why you believe it was particularly important or influential in the evolution of science fiction film as a genre.
  • Compare and contrast the representation of women in any two films from our syllabus.
  • Choose any two films from our syllabus and discuss the ways in which those films make use of past science fiction films as a resource for their own construction.
  • Choose one or more films from our syllabus and discuss the ways this film (or these films) might be seen as horror films as well as science fiction films.
  • Contrast any two films from our syllabus that were made in different decades and suggest the ways in which changes in historical context are reflected in the differences between these films.