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The capstone experience of English 102 is a research paper. Please choose one of the following topics:
OPTION 1: The Monster Option
Monsters reveal the cultural fears of a given historical moment. The challenge is to link the presentation of the monster to the specific issues of that historical moment in order to understand the larger cultural concerns of that era. Pick a monster from literature or film that you know well. Analyze both the way the text presents the monster and the historical record of the time the text was produced to argue that the monster represents a specific fear from that historical moment.
OPTION 2: The Horror Option
While we have focused almost exclusively on monsters as way of studying the fears of a historical moment, we can expand our discussion to include any kind of horror, be it the traditional haunted house, the serial killer, plague scenarios, or even technophobic horrors like The Ring or Cell. Such horrors can reveal a cultural fear or the uniquely personal fears of an author or film maker. Pick either a single text or several related texts that deal with the same horror and analyze them to show how they embody the specific fears of a culture, a historical moment, or an individual.
OPTION 3: Real Monsters
Sadly, we live in a violent world and do not have to look far to find real monsters. Identify an individual or a specific type of person that you think is a monster and argue why the label should be applied. To successfully make this argument, you will need to develop your own definition of a monster that draws upon the theories we have worked with all semester to show why your monster is not just a bad person: your monster must actually affect how a culture behaves (changing laws, home defense, new taboo behavior, widespread paranoias, urban legends, etc.). You will have to collect an impressive amount of factual evidence to support your claim.
OPTION 4: Monstrous Scapegoats
In almost any culture, subgroups or specific individuals face persecution by being labeled monstrous in some form: "deviant," "dangerous," "unorthodox," "trouble makers," "different," or The Other that unsettles the status quo in that culture. The negative label attempts to repress these groups or individuals, making them what Cohen calls "Monsters of prohibition." Identify one such group or individual that has born such a label and/or blame for a social ill that is either non-existent or caused by other factors beyond the control of that group or individual. Provide a historical context for this label, what the perceived cultural threat was from the individual or group, and show why the label was unfair and/or false.
ALL OPTIONS MUST DO THE FOLLOWING:
Additional, but Separate, Assignment: The MS Word Skills Assessment (see description in Assignments)