Nathan Whittle

Professor Thomas

Science Fiction

November 24, 2015

Project Proposal

I plan to write my final project about the role art plays in Oryx and Crake. I believe that art is the major area of thought lacking in Atwood’s world that separates it from reality, indirectly causing the dystopia being portrayed. By this, I mean that art is the main dividing factor between this dystopia and our real world, as art is depicted as being superfluous in the novel. I believe that art allows people to empathize with other people and fosters a sort of general appreciation for life. In this way, I believe there is a direct correlation with a society’s appreciation for art and it’s populace’s ethics. I plan to use several of my research sources to support this as a societal trend. Jimmy is patronized by his society for being a student more comfortable with literature than science. From this idea and several others, we can conclude that these characters live in a world that does not value art. I think the lack of art is also evident in how objectified every character seems to be to Crake. Crake uses Oryx as a tool to make Jimmy do what he wants. In this way, Jimmy is also only ever a tool to Crake, who serves as a symbol for this society. I think Crake serves as a symbol for Atwood’s society because he has a sort of God complex. Also, he puts most of the terrible things that happen into motion. I think this comes from how centered the society is in valuing a sort of ‘end justifies the means’ mentality stemming from their ethics-less brand of science. I think more so than just expressing one’s self via an artistic medium, Atwood’s world lacks a sense of artistic appreciation. The society portrayed in this novel seems to lack any sort of empathy or desire to promote anything other than that which is objectively beneficial to the individual’s instinctive needs. Because of this observation, I think that Atwood uses Oryx And Crake to argue that a sense of empathy and appreciation for artistic value is the major characteristic held by modern society separating us from calamity.


Preliminary Bibliography


Atwood, Margaret. Oryx and Crake: A Novel. New York: Nan A. Talese, 2003. Print.

Cafaro, Philip. Thoreau’s Living Ethics: Walden and the Pursuit of Virtue. Athens, GA: U of Georgia, 2004. Print.

Coplan, Amy. “The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism.” Empathic Engagement with Narrative Fictions 62.2 (2004): 141-52. Web. 24 Nov. 2015.

Eisner, Elliot W., and Michael D. Day. Handbook of Research and Policy in Art Education. Mahwah, NJ: National Art Education Association, 2004. Print.

Fox, John. Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-making. New York: Penguin Putnam, 1997. Print.

Röpke, Wilhelm. The Moral Foundations of Civil Society. New Brunswick (U.S.A.): Transaction, 1996. Print.


Worringer, Wilhelm. Abstraction and Empathy: A Contribution to the Psychology of Style. Chicago: Elephant Paperbacks, 1997. Print.