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Heroes & Monsters: Home

Guide for Fall 2015 first semester Honors students

About this Course

Society classifies our identity based upon categories we often cannot control: sex, race, socio-economic status, intelligence, disability.  However, we daily shape that identity through choices in order to construct our individual narratives.  Sometimes that construction involves redefining cultural norms.  Society also classifies cultural norms to define good and bad, right and wrong, hero and monster.  In this class, students will begin to question and think critically about these classifications in order to define for themselves heroic or monstrous behavior and in doing so, possible redefine their own personal narratives. Any definition requires good diction and quality research, so this class will focus on ways to help them refine their writing and research skills in order to find a clear and effective voice.

Heroes & Monsters

Universal Studios. Frankenstein’s monster (Boris Karloff). 1935.

“Werewolf” by Johnnymorrow CC BY 3.0

Final Project

In the final research project, students will research an aspect of monstrosity related to their own personal interests.  Suggestions for the project may include ideas such as the following:

  • Redefine heroism or monstrosity based upon a current controversial event.  For instance, Caitlin Jenner recently received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.  Defend or refute her actions as heroic or not or as worthy or not of this award.
  • Examine a specific monster such as vampires, zombies, or werewolves and trace the use of that monster as a metaphor in current political discourse.  In doing so, examine how the monster is used a rhetorical device.
  • Research a monster not discussed in this class and show how that monster reflects upon the culture of the society that created the monster.
  • Research the history of real life monsters and how science changed society’s perception of these monsters.  Show how science not only usurped superstition, but helped improve the lives of those whom society considered monstrous.
  • Examine the scientific basis of a popular monster.  Trace how myths changed the science and consider reasons why the mythology of the monster developed from its scientific origins.
  • Frankenstein was a monster born from scientific theories in the early 19th century.  Consider a monster created in the 20th or 21st century that is based upon modern scientific theories.  What is the science behind the monster and how has the monster either been fueled by fears of the science or how has the monster contributed to the fears of the science?  Can you find instances of where this monster has been used as a metaphor in culture?

AIDS epidemic

“savages”/scientific racism

Women’s liberation – abortion, birth control pill

Mutations from chemicals – Thalidomide, “mutants,” birth defects

Humanity/What does it mean to be human?

serial killers

Life-extending science

3D printing

social mores

immigration/xenophobia

religious fundamentalism

gender

economic inequality

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Final Project

In the final research project, students will research an aspect of monstrosity related to their own personal interests.  Suggestions for the project may include ideas such as the following:

  • Redefine heroism or monstrosity based upon a current controversial event.  For instance, Caitlin Jenner recently received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.  Defend or refute her actions as heroic or not or as worthy or not of this award.
  • Examine a specific monster such as vampires, zombies, or werewolves and trace the use of that monster as a metaphor in current political discourse.  In doing so, examine how the monster is used a rhetorical device.
  • Research a monster not discussed in this class and show how that monster reflects upon the culture of the society that created the monster.
  • Research the history of real life monsters and how science changed society’s perception of these monsters.  Show how science not only usurped superstition, but helped improve the lives of those whom society considered monstrous.
  • Examine the scientific basis of a popular monster.  Trace how myths changed the science and consider reasons why the mythology of the monster developed from its scientific origins.
  • Frankenstein was a monster born from scientific theories in the early 19th century.  Consider a monster created in the 20th or 21st century that is based upon modern scientific theories.  What is the science behind the monster and how has the monster either been fueled by fears of the science or how has the monster contributed to the fears of the science?  Can you find instances of where this monster has been used as a metaphor in culture?

Topics

AIDS epidemic

“savages”/scientific racism

Women’s liberation – abortion, birth control pill

Mutations from chemicals – Thalidomide, “mutants,” birth defects

Humanity/What does it mean to be human?

serial killers

Life-extending science

3D printing

social mores

immigration/xenophobia

religious fundamentalism

gender

economic inequality


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