Description: The purpose of this assignment is for you to be able to use one text as a critical lens in order to better understand another text. In this case, your critical lens is going to be the essay that you’ve already read, Cohen’s “7 Theses.” You should’ve also already picked the primary text on your own, and confirmed it in last week’s work. If you haven’t, you need to do that asap. We work on using texts as critical lenses or “frames” because as academics, we encounter a lot of ideas. Once we encounter them, we have to get comfortable with using them to interpret things in the world. This takes practice, trying out the new idea, testing the limits of the idea, and applying it to an object. This essay gives you an opportunity to do some of that work and will hopefully prepare you a little bit for encountering and incorporating the ideas you’ll see later in other classes.
Step 1. You should already have one of Cohen’s theses picked out, along with a monster that you want to analyze. If you haven’t done this yet, you need to do it now. You can review the previous two weeks’ modules for assistance with this process.
Step 2: Working Thesis. You should craft a working thesis that incorporates something from both Cohen and from the monster you are interested in analyzing. Here’s a sample thesis:
“In his short essay, “Monster Culture: 7 Theses,” Jeffrey Jerome Cohen argues in his third thesis that, “the monster notoriously appears at times of crisis as a kind of third term that problematizes the clash of extremes.” In this view, monsters are historically significant: they show up amidst a drama that is already underway. In some cases, they may serve to unite two opposed groups against a common enemy, but in the case of zombie films, it is much more common that zombies only make the clash between different groups even worse. Looking at George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, we can see how zombies punctuate and accelerate the already existing cultural tensions among the living.”
This is just a sample thesis. You should not copy it. It’s just here for you to see how a thesis for a paper like this might be constructed. It uses a specific idea from Cohen to better understand and make sense of the social role of a monster. In this case I chose the zombie, but of course you can choose whatever monster you’re most interested in.
Step 3: Research. for this project, research will follow from your topic. You may want to do research that is related to the thesis that you’ve chosen to work with, or you may want to do research that is related to the monster that you’ve chosen to work with. You may even want to do both. Any and all combinations of research are fine, so long as your research helps you to better understand your topic, and to prove your point.
Taking the sample thesis that I wrote above as an example. I might want to do research on human conflict. This would be research that would attend mostly to Cohen’s thesis, but it might also be applicable to better understanding the nature of conflict in zombie films.
I might also want to do research on the film Night of the Living Dead. It’s a pretty famous film and there’s a lot of material out there devoted to discussing it. Know more about this film will probably help me write more knowledgably about it.
Finally, I might expand my search to look up essays and/or ebooks on zombies. These sources don’t have to focus on the one film I’m analyzing, but they could still provide useful analytical materials.
Step 4: Writing the paper. The standard protocol applies here as in past papers. It should be about 1500 words, MLA style, with citations from Cohen’s essay as well as from two other secondary sources. These secondary sources should come from the HCC library. You should also make references to the monster you’ve chosen to write about. If the monster is textual (from a cultural production like a book, film, tv show, song, etc…) then you should also quote from that text. Works cited page with all works cited listed.
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