March 24th, 2003

Photo - leaves

i'm sorry, but you have to share my pain on this one...

i take back every complaint i have ever made about every essay, exam or test i have ever taken, ever. seriously. assignment for picturing books has been set. it goes as follows...

Write an essay (2,500-word minimum, no maximum*) on one of the following topics, with reference to three of the following pairs of texts.

Carters three werewolf stories in The Bloody Chamber and Jordan's The Company of Wolves

Stoker's Dracula and Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula (selected subsidiary reference to thet wo versions of Nosferatu are also acceptable)

Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Scott's Blade Runner

Kazantzakis' The Last Temptation and Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ

Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Coppola's Apocalypse Now

*All else being equal, the minimum wordage should be sufficient to fulfill the terms of the assignment adequately or more than adequately; but you are invited to develop your thought as extensively as your insights require. However, if you elect to exceed the minimum, keep in mind that padding, diverging from the specific terms of the assignment, or undue repetitiveness will be negatively assessed.

(and that, friends, is the sodding introduction...)

Topic Choices

Topic #1. A significant tendency of the fantastic mode - and one that perhaps establishes its major cultural and psychological function - is that it conflates and subverts normative cognitive and evaluative categories that individuals and groups use to stabilise the chaotic flux of existence and make sense of an otherwise ambiguous world. With particular attention to the way rigid categorical differentiations tend to produce monstrous Otherness, discuss the following:

a. the deliberate conflation of differentiations specific to each text.

b, the strategies each text uses to blue categorical distinctions, to collapse established binary oppositions, and to expose supposedly fixed borders as actually unstable and porous.

c. how these strategies establish a general pattern of subversion of ideological presuppositions and convictions that are habitually taken for granted and rarely interrogated - be they social (e.g. gender, race, class), ontological (i.e. regarding different kinds of beings or orders of Being), aesthetic (e.g. the distinction between beautiful and ugly), ethical (e.g. the distinction between good and bad), psychodynamic (e.g. the distinction between desire and repulsion), or metaphysical (e.g. the distinction between divine and demonic.)


Topic #2. The blurring and conflation of the normative distinction between the outside (i.e. ostensibly objective actuality) and the inside (i.e. the phantasmatic contents of the psyche and the unconscious) is at one and the same time a stylistic technique, a central narrative strategy, and a thematic preoccupation of texts deploying the fantastic mode. Discuss the following:

a. specific instances in each text of this stylistic technique and narrative strategy as they are deployed for purposes of characterisation and the descriptive evocation of a mythic dimension to existence

b. distinctions (if relevant) between the roles of dreams, hallucinations, and visionary revelation in each text

c. the metaphorical dialectic of sleeping, dreaming, and awakening, with particular regard to their psychological and philosophical implications

d. how, in specific terms, the shared attributes of intensity, extravagance and spectacle serve to establish a dialogue between the texts as a group.

Topic #3. The fantastic is an impressionistic mode that is almost by definition highly inflected by particular sensations, moods and atmospheres that characterise its fictional worlds and affect the reader/spectator. Discuss these sensations, moods and atmospheres with regard to:

a. the conventions of the genre to which each text belongs.

b. medium-specific capacities and strategies for effecting reader/spectator impressions

c. dominant strategies particular to each text - such as narrative tone of voice, stylistic idiosyncracies, shifts from scene to scene or episode to episode, characterisation

d. the relation of all of these to the thematic implications of text and to the general preoccupations of the texts as a group.

</assignment>

in a word, gahhhhh...

at the moment i'm working on the principle of whichever one a) has the least amout of syllables per sentence and b) i understand. falling into criteria a) is falling into criteria b) is topic #3...

dear lord... at least i have over a month to do it...

in other news, i stayed up til 3am watching most of the oscars... and i'm just off to watch the rest of them. my inner movie geek refused to let me not tape it... so if anyone wants... ;) (and i taped over jonathan creek because it sucks this series, and i've missed, like, 3 of them...) oh, and of what i did watch, possibly the most wonderful moment was when julie andrews was announcing an award, and got about 2 minutes of standing ovation just for appearing...