Project 1: The Meaning of Monsters

In the first two weeks of class we’re reading various accounts about the meaning of monsters and horror more generally. Our first writing project asks you to engage with these readings, following the “They say            ; I say            ” template that Graff and Birkenstein write about. Graff and Birkenstein argue that a simple formula powers almost all academic writing:

listening closely to others around us, summarizing their views in a way that they will recognize, and responding with our own ideas in kind. (3)

For this project, you pick some slice of Cohen, Pinedo, Poole, or Fisher and respond with your own argument about the meaning of monsters. Your goal is, as Graff and Birkenstein put it, to disagree without being disagreeable. You don’t need to respond to all four of these scholars, but you do need to respond to at least two. Try finding a thematic thread that runs from one writer to another and which you want to take into a new direction. Then, see if you can adapt one of Graff and Birkenstein’s templates from pages 10 and 11 as a starting point.

Form and Structure

As you work on this project, keep in mind the following guidelines about form and structure:

  • Your project should weigh in at 1,000 words
  • You’ll write and share your project using Google Docs. You can sign into Google Docs with your Davidson ID and password.
  • Avoid generalizations. Ground your essay with specific examples.
  • Don’t try to sound “smart.” Write with simple, direct language. Cut out the clutter in your writing.
  • Avoid adverbs such as “really” or “very.” Also limit adjectives such as “important” or “interesting.” If something is interesting, explain why it’s interesting instead of just saying it is so.
  • Cite your sources using a commonly accepted scholarly format, such as APA, Chicago, or MLA style. This includes parenthetical citations and a Works Cited page. A tool like ZoteroBib can help you generate your bibliography.
  • I’ll evaluate the success of this writing project using this rubric.
  • A complete draft is due in class on Monday, September 3.
  • A final version is due Wednesday, December 5
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