By now, you’ve spent most of the semester reading and viewing and listening to material about monsters (real or imagined). You’ve summarized and analyzed what other people have said and written about monsters and monstrosity. For this final assignment, you’ll extend the work you’ve done so far by choosing a monster–any monster–and then tracing the development of that monster over a period of time and into the future in a roughly 1750-2000-word report (closing in on 8 pages).
A couple of boundaries:
The monster must be fictional (even if it’s based on something real). Thus, the Joker would be a viable topic, even though he is a human and could theoretically exist, but Hitler would not, monstrous though he was.
The monster must have enough of a history that multiple generations have known stories about it; for example, you can’t choose a monster that has only appeared in one TV show in recent times (unless you can make the case that that monster evolved from a previous one in our history).
The monster cannot be anything allegorical like depression (which, while monstrous, cannot be written about as the assignment requires).
If you’re into Japanese popular culture at all, Godzilla () may be an obvious choice. Godzilla appeared first in the early 1950s but has been featured in numerous films, television programs, animated series, and many other media. At first, Godzilla seemed to be a pretty clear metaphor for the challenges and dangers of nuclear weapons and nuclear energy (understandable given the atomic explosions in Japan at the end of World War II). But after the end of the Cold War, it’s likely that Godzilla started standing for other fears. You could explore how Godzilla is still, evidently, a monster–but how the kind of monster it is has become something different in the 21st century.
Or you could choose Cookie Monster, which everyone knows is really the best monster. Cookie Monster became popular in the long-running (still-running, in fact) PBS program Sesame Street. He’s a monster, but kids love him. What’s going on with him or with other “monsters” in kids/educational programming? Why did Sesame Street’s creators try to reform Cookie Monster a few years ago by encouraging him to eat vegetables? How has Cookie Monster evolved in other ways between the late 1960s and now? You might even try to answer that question by looking at Cookie Monster cross culturally. (Hint: the film The World According to Sesame Street would be very helpful. The library has it!)
Once you choose, you should collect high-quality materials on your own–from Marriott Library, primarily–that will help you answer your questions about how your monster has developed. (More specific requirements about sources below.) You should read, view, and/or listen to those sources and take notes about them. Once you’ve done that, you should start drafting a report that describes how, in specific terms, your monster has developed.
Once you’re working on that, you have a choice about how to finish the report:
Option 1: speculate (reasonably) about how the monster you chose will change next. For example, if Godzilla has been a metaphor for the dangers of nuclear power/weapons or for “toxic waste” or for industrialization, what will it stand for in the future? Terrorism? Climate change? Why do you think so?
Option 2: invent and describe a monster that you think could replace the monster you chose. For example, maybe Cookie Monster has run his course. Maybe parents’ concerns about gluten have finally caught up with him. Who/what might be a replacement? What might s/he or it look/sound like? How would s/he or it be “monstrous”? Feel free to integrate visuals if you know how to do that using your composing software. But remember that this assignment, like our other assignments, is really an opportunity to write in ways that help you practice for all of the other writing you’ll do at the U.
When you draft the Your Own Monster! report, you should include
An introduction that gives your audience (again, primarily me–but also classmates) a brief overview of who/what your monster is, why you chose it, and what it stands for and how it has developed over a period of time. (That last part–“how it has developed”–is really your thesis.)
A section that describes as specifically as possible your monster’s development up to now. For this section, you’ll need to rely on the summary and synthesis skills you’ve learned throughout the course to include what your chosen sources tell you about your monster. You should also highlight the ways your monster “works” rhetorically. For instance, what was the rhetorical exigence for your monster? What audience did your monster’s creator(s) imagine? How does your monster appeal to that audience using pathos and/or other appeals?
A section that either speculates about how your monster will develop next or that describes the kind of monster you believe could replace it. This is where you choose Option 1 or Option 2 and go with it. For Option 1, how do you believe your chosen monster will change, and why? For Option 2, what would a new/replacement monster be like, and why?
A conclusion that summarizes your findings about your monster(s).
Sources: you should select, at minimum, six (6) sources on your own to help you write your report. “Sources” should include at least some scholarly materials, if possible, but they will also likely include pop-culture books, articles, films, videos, and even comic books, internet memes, movie posters, and TV commercials. (You’re welcome to think broadly about how both academic and popular cultures have featured the monster you chose.)
Part this assignment involves creating an annotated bibliography, in which you collect and describe your six sources. It’s worth 5% of the class grade, so don’t forget about it (See the link to that assignment for more specifics).
Peer review: you’ll submit a rough draft on April 26th and will be assigned a reviewer
Final Draft (May 1st): your roughly 1750-2000-word final draft should use APA or MLA formatting–double spaced, 12 point font, in-text citations–and must include a “works cited” or “references” page to list sources you