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Evolution of the Elf in Fantasy Literature
The tall, noble and beautiful elf has become almost a cliche in fantasy at this point, but this was not always so. As Tolkien traces in his landmark essay, "On Fairy Stories," from Spenser’s "The Faerie Queene" and Shakespeare’s "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" up to his time, elves had been diminutive creatures of mischief, cutesy and not worth taking seriously. Beginning with Tolkien, and his reliance on Northern European mythology to craft his legendarium, analyze this shift in the treatment of the Elf, and what it meant for fantasy as a genre. Also, compare Tolkien’s Elf with a more modern one, and look at recent deviations of the now archetypal elf.
"Alice in Wonderland" in Adaptation: What Makes it so Difficult?
Lewis Carroll’s nonsense novel has seen endless variation in adaption across all forms of media, but how many of these are actually successful? Look at both the more faithful adaptions (Disney, the 1999 TV Movie), and the "darker" or somehow radically different ones (American McGee’s Alice, The Looking Glass Wars). Compare some of the adaptions which are similar in tone, like Tim Burton’s recent film and American McGee, or the Disney film and the TV Movie, with an eye for determining, which one does what it’s trying to do better (e.g., a faithful translation from book to film, a darker take), while examining what makes adaptation of this novel so difficult.
Updating Jane Austen: When Is It No Longer Worth It?
Take a specific case, such as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: one of the most popular of the classic novels, it has been subject to various reinterpretations which of course include the occasional modernization. But updating such a novel comes with a hefty set of challenges, not the least being this: is there anything Lydia could do in our time which would ruin her sisters prospects as completely? That is, the social norms and stigmas from Austen’s time to ours are so different, is it possible to construct a modern analog for this novel? Is it worth it?
Film and Television After 9/11
9/11 was the most devastating terror attack on American soil, and consequently its repercussions are still felt 15 years later. Examine how 9/11 influenced American media, in both the immediate aftermath and more long-term reflections. Don’t focus just on films and TV shows about 9/11, but look more at how it informed film aesthetics, story-lines, and how we depict terrorism and political issues in film and television (e.g., how depictions of destruction changed in the advent of 9/11, analyzing the 9/11-like imagery of films such as Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, and the DC Cinematic Universe). Focus on specific themes these films tackle in the wake of 9/11, such as PTSD, fear of the unknown threat, and, again, the proper response to terrorism.
Cliches and How To Use Them
The most damning critique of any work of fiction is that it’s "cliched." Cliches are obvious detriments to the success of a work of fiction, but why? Can there be instances when the use of a cliche actually strengthens a work of fiction? Give careful definitions of terms such as "cliche," and track how an effective storytelling device, or special effect–like the "Vertigo effect" or "bullet time"–becomes a cliche, and whether it can be salvaged after endless imitation. As lazy as it is to pepper a story with overused cliches, ask, can the use of cliches be a good thing (in some instances)?
"Fanon" vs. "Canon": The Validity of Fan Theories as Regards "Canonical" Works of Fiction
Analyse "canon" vs. "fanon", and whether the latter has any validity as regards interpretations and criticism of the former. Are fan theories a legitimate way in which to explore the deeper facets of a certain work or franchise, or is it merely a socially acceptable way for adults to waste their time? Discuss how certain fan theories have influenced (or not) storylines in different franchises and creator’s rejections, adoptions, or subversions of popular fan theories (e.g., Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Lost, Doctor Who, etc.)
The Role of Coincidence in Victorian Literature
Even a small dose of coincidence is needed in a work as lengthy and comprehensive as the novel, but Victorian novels seem more comfortable using it than many modern writers. Some consider that a defect, or put up with it as the artifact of a bygone era: but it might it be more than that? First, examine what "coincidence" actually entails, is it really a bad thing? Second, consider specific cases, such as Dickens, Dracula and Dostoevsky, whose brilliantly constructed novels sometimes make liberal use of coincidence. Might coincidence be an integral component in the success of these novels?
The Detriments of a Shared
Since the success of Marvel’s "The Avengers" and the films connected with it, the series of crossover superhero films has become the next big thing. Analyze and discuss this phenomenon in connection with DC’s less than stellar efforts to establish much of the same (including possible missteps such as refusing to put the TV versions of their characters in their films), as well as compare with other properties of these companies that are distinct from their "cinematic universes" (e.g., the X-Men series, the Dark Knight Trilogy). Why was "The Avengers" a success, but "Age of Ultron" and "Batman v. Superman" met with middling or downright negative response? When does it work and when it is too much too soon? Is the complexity inherent in this concept ultimately worth it? With many suffering "superhero fatigue" from the glut of comic-book films in theaters, is this ultimately a concept worth pursuing in the future?
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