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Extra Credit Assignment

March 19, 2013

Here is the promised extra credit assignment. Please remember it’s extra credit. If you don’t want to do this assignment, you don’t have to. If you do want to do it, then it’s worth up to 100 points (out of 1,000 total for this course).

The assignment is to write a 1,200-1,500 word paper on either of the following prompts, both of which are based on James Cameron’s Aliens (not to be confused with Ridley Scott’s Alien which we saw earlier this semester). By the way, you might want to wait to read these prompts until after you’ve seen Aliens for the first time.

Prompt 1: In his book On Film, Stephen Mulhall explores “the possibility that films such as [Aliens] were genuinely philosophical exercises, and so amounted to examples of film as philosophizing.” (Read his shorter take on this here.)


Compare and contrast Aliens and The Matrix Revolutions in light of Mulhall’s thesis.

Prompt 2: Ultimately, Ripley is able to overcome the xenomorph queen by taking on one of her traits: her inhabitation of a foreign body, though in Ripley’s case it’s a mechanized body rather than a biological body. Bishop, on the other hand, continues to be a major character in the film even after he’s lost most of his body.


Discuss the way in which Aliens treats the nature of bodily inhabitation. How does the film answer the question “What is it to have a body?” You may want to pay special attention to the way in which some bodies (e.g., Ripley’s) are clearly gendered, other bodies lack obvious genders (e.g., the face huggers’ and the fork-lift suit’s), and yet others combine features usually associated with two genders (e.g., the queen’s).

This assignment is due no later than COB M28 (April 5). Please, no late work. Send completed papers to

Update: I’ve pushed the deadline for the assignment back because I didn’t send out an announcement about it on the course mailing list (which I’ll do on Friday when I’m in front of my USAFA computer).


From → Assignments

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