(4-5 full length pages, 10% of final grade)
Goal: Evaluate one monster character and use three nonfiction or critical sources to support your evaluation
You will choose one text (short story, film, album, t.v. show, game, artwork, etc.) and evaluate a major character in it. You must choose a text that deals in some way with issues of monstrosity and focus on how the monster is portrayed. I encourage you strongly to focus on a limited part of this text (one or two chapters, one or two episodes, etc.). Do not summarize this text. Analyze the character instead. Don’t just tell your reader “what” happens; go on to explain what’s important, informative, disappointing, entertaining, and/or troubling, and why you think so.
In your essay, please cover the following:
*A thesis that points out something about this character that isn’t easily observed by simply watching/reading/playing this source text. Examples of obvious theses: “The Joker is insane.” “Darth Vader is a monster.” “Dexter is a serial killer with a moral code.”
*What makes this character a monster, as we have defined them in class? Note: This is not your thesis. This is a minor part of establishing the form of monstrosity the character takes.
*Are the monsters “sympathetic,” i.e., can a person identify with the monster and see things from the monster’s perspective? Does the monster have compassion, sensitivity, kindness, etc.?
*Do you think that the way the monster is portrayed is acceptable? If the monster is aperson, is the portrayal realistic, insulting, etc.? Are there any prejudices you notice (race, religion, gender, sexuality, economic class, etc.)? Consider the genre and goal of the text—is this text meant to scare, horrify, make people laugh, make people think, etc.?
You must have a clear and recognizable thesis that doesn’t state an obvious quality of this monster or text. It must show an insight into the character beyond easily observable surface traits. You will support your thesis with concrete details and examples, which may include facts, logical conclusions, statistics, thoughtful analysis, critical evaluation, etc. Do not write about something only slightly related to monsters. For instance, don’t write an essay about how “drugs” should be illegal because they make people act like zombies. It is very important that you pick an obvious monster or monsters to write about. Do not create a persuasive argument convincing your reader that someone or something merely “is” a monster. That will result in a failing grade.
Do not write about objects, natural disasters, cultural movements, politicians, real-world technology, or anything else that isn’t obviously a monster as we’ve defined the term. So: no monster trucks, no monster-brand energy drinks, no “monster” athletes, no evil politicians, no atomic bombs, and no cute talking animals (unless of course they kill people).
This assignment must be 4-5 full-length pages and include in-text citation, a Works Cited page, and quoted material from at least 3 appropriate sources. By “appropriate,” I mean that the information found in these sources must have all of the following qualities:
1) It’s clearly related to your topic and argument (and you may need to establish this connection).
2) It contains written or spoken information that expands or enriches the understanding of the topic (i.e., no quoting superficial observations that you could’ve or should’ve made on your own, such as “Dracula kills women” or “The Joker is evil.”).
3) It is nonfiction (accurate facts) and/or critical (a logical opinion based on thoughtful analysis)
This assignment requires a Works Cited page (excluded from the minimum length) that lists the text you review as well as all other sources you may have used. The text reviewed does not count as one of the three minimum sources, so you’ll ultimately have at least four sources on the WC page.
The following sources are considered inappropriate sources for this assignment:
*IMDB *Wikia sites including Wikipedia, Monsterpedia, etc. *conspiracy theories
*rumors *personal stories *random comments on the internet *interviews with non-experts *children’s and young adult books *Ask.com *dictionaries
If you have a question about any of the above, please ask! If you are writing about any of these topics (urban legends, conspiracies, etc.) and believe that these sorts of sources would actually help your analysis, we can discuss this.
Feel free to use visual images in your essay as a way of composing across media. Choose them wisely. Images should be used to explain and communicate information, not to make the page look cool. Any space allotted to images will not be considered toward the minimum page length. Do not neglect to cite the images within the essay (with titles or “image 1,” etc. underneath the images) as well as on the Works Cited page. Visual images do not count towards the minimum sources.
Do not write about documentaries and news articles. It can be very difficult to analyze the way a real-life human monster is portrayed by the media. Most of you are not prepared for this level of media analysis. If you wish to analyze a real-world murderer, find a dramatic portrayal on film (e.g., an actor playing this murderer as opposed to interviews with the actual murderer).
Please don’t write about Shrekor Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. There are dozens of other excellent versions of Beauty and the Beast, including La Belle et La Bete by Jean Cocteau. Please do not write about Shrek, Maleficent, or Twilight. Do not write about Hitler (so easy; do better). Finally, do not write about the Illuminati.
If you’re having trouble choosing a text to write about, here are some of my favorite shorter monster texts outside of what we read and watch in class. Please keep in mind that the horror ones can be very frightening, and some may include adult content:
“The Colour Out of Space,” a short story by H. P. Lovecraft (suspense / sci fi)
“Herbert West, Reanimator,” a short story by H. P. Lovecraft (zombie horror)
“The Cask of Amontillado,” a short story by Edgar Allen Poe (horror / murder)
“The Mask of the Red Death,” a short story by Edgar Allen Poe (fantasy / horror)
“Bloodchild,” a short story by Octavia Butler (horror / sci fi)
“Sandkings,” a short story by George R. R. Martin (horror / sci fi)
“Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers,” a short story by Alyssa Wong (horror/fantasy)
“Monster,” a short story by Kelly Link (magical realism)
“The Hortlak,” a short story by Kelly Link (magical surrealism)
“The Company of Wolves,” a short story by Angela Carter (fantasy)
“St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves,” a short story by Karen Russell (fantasy)
Black Hole, a graphic novel by Charles Burns (young adult horror)
Stories from Kwaidan, a collection of Asian supernatural stories compiled by Lafcadio Hearn
Myths, legends, and folklore featuring monsters. These can be in languages other than English as long as you translate the quotes you pull from the text.
Mars Attacks, a film directed by Tim Burton (comedy / sci fi)
No Such Thing, a film directed by Hal Hartley (comedy/ sci fi)
Labyrinth, a film directed by Jim Henson (comedy / fantasy / family)
The Dark Crystal, a film directed by Jim Henson (fantasy/family)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a film directed by Jim Sharman (comedy / musical / lgbt)
Little Shop of Horrors, a film directed by Frank Oz (comedy / musical / sci fi)
Party Monster, a film directed by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato (murder comedy)
Killer Klowns from Outer Space, a film directed by the Chiodo brothers (comedy/horror)
Freaks, a film directed by Tod Browning (comedy / romance / suspense)
The Tingler, a film directed by William Castle (comedy / suspense)
The Elephant Man, a film directed by David Lynch (historical account of a deformed man)
Mommy Dearest, a film directed by Frank Perry (true story of child abuse in Hollywood)
Dorian Gray, a film directed by Oliver Parker (horror/murder/comedy)
Psycho, a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock (horror/murder/suspense)
Nightbreed, a film directed by Clive Barker (horror)
The Hunger, a film directed by Tony Scott (vampire horror)
The Silence of the Lambs, a film directed by Jonathan Demme (suspense / horror/ murder)
Alien, a film directed by Ridley Scott (suspsense / horror/ sci fi)
The Thing, a film directed by John Carpenter (suspense / horror / sci fi)
Splice, a film directed by Vincenzo Natali (horror / sci fi)
The Cell, a film directed by Tarsem Singh (horror / sci fi/ murder)
The Fly, a film directed by David Cronenberg (horror/ sci fi)
Rosemary’s Baby, a film directed by Roman Polanski (religious horror)
The Exorcist, a film directed by William Friedkin (religious horror)