"The Immortals"

Martin Amis

Learning Objectives for this class wiki:

  • Use basic web sources to look up unfamiliar terms and places.

  • Use basic web sources in order to investigate themes and issues raised in a literary text.

  • Explore themes and issues in order to see possible topics suitable for further research.


We've just looked at a brief overview of the research process as a whole. In this first exercise we'll try to get a taste of how you might go about finding out more about a topic and developing possible research interests and questions. There are a lot of ways you could do this but probably the simplest and most direct is to just focus on the literary text itself -- the story, poem, or essay.
Martin Amis.jpg
So let’s look at the short story “The Immortals” by Martin Amis as a starting point. First of all, there may be words or places you don’t know. You can do some quick research on these. Going deeper, as you’ve probably noticed from class discussions, this story is rich in references and though it is fictional it touches on many real social issues, problems, and anxieties. An obvious one is the threat of nuclear war, a fear which in our day is perhaps intensified by the ever present threat of terrorist attacks. There are many other possibilities suggested by the story. For instance, the "immortal" sketches out the pre-history of the earth and highlights some eras of human history; perhaps something mentioned is unfamiliar or interesting to you and you want to learn some more. So look it up!

We’ll use the class wiki to help us all familiarize ourselves with some of these themes and references. You will each create a page and share the results of some of your research.

Keep these points in mind:
  • To search: We'll get into more sophisticated searching later in the semester but for now just Google it! Or if you are familiar with more advanced techniques or search tools, use those. Since we are just exploring a topic, it's okay to use Wikipedia but don't limit yourself to this, try to branch out.
  • Avoid plagiarism! Copy and pasting is lazy researching! Paraphrasing and summarizing is better. If you do copy and paste, at least put it in quotes and provide a link.
  • Tip: Use Google as a dictionary, type "define:" then your term to get quick definitions. For instance, define:unions.
  • Try not to duplicate what someone else has already done. If you use the same term, try to add something different to it.