DClarke

DClarke

A Ph.D. student in love with thinking about heroes, monsters and all things gothic and gothic revival (Art, literature and architecture)!

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Latest Articles

Latest Topics

3

The art of Calligraphy

With the video of Master Penman Jake Weidmann making its rounds on the internet, the art of calligraphy is enjoying a very moderate resurgence of interest. Why have we abandoned this art form? Is it even relevant in a day and age when computers can reproduce any form of script, in any size for any occasion on any type of paper? Can calligraphy or any form of artistic writing provide a substantial benefit for modern society and if so, should "we" reconsider teaching such forms of writing in schools?

  • I think Jake Weidmann gets more recognition because he uses his calligraphy in art. Calligraphy in it's rawest form has nothing to do with the intricate ink animals and designs be adds to the text, so that does make him a master penman as is his medium but I doubt any of the other master calligraphers extend their skill beyond text; Jake is an artist. It would be great if this article explored which he is best described as, and the difference between regular penmen, how to make a living from and what do they even do? – Slaidey 2 years ago
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Sympathy for the Villain?

We all know that there cannot be a hero without having a villain but does this mean that we have to hate the villain? Sure there are those people/creatures that are truly monstrous and who want to destroy the world or inflict pain and terror but what about more innocuous villains? villains who just happen to share a different moral code than the hero? or rivals that engage in the same behaviour as the hero but happen to be on opposite sides (Gangs of New York, The Godfather). It is Manichean to see the villain as evil but are they totally unredeemable?

  • Wouldn't that make them anti-heroes? Villains are defined as villains when there is no good in them, or when they were once good but there is no redeeming factor for them. To which the other term that should be brought up is antagonist. Who is an opponent for the protagonist, but is not really evil, and is often mistaken for a villain despite the morality differences between antagonist and pure villain. – Ryan Walsh 1 year ago
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  • A good example of a villain versus an antagonist is in "Les Miserables" with Thenardier and Javert. Thenardier does evil for his own gain while Javert believes he is doing good while he is the antagonist to Jean Valjean. In the end Thenardier doesn't change while Javert realises the harm he has caused and *spoiler* commits suicide. – smartstooge 1 year ago
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  • I think I agree with Ryan Walsh. You seem to be conflating the anti-hero and the villain. Perhaps it would be more productive to study the rise of the sympathetic villain in Pixar. – InAugust 1 year ago
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  • Another good example of two differing viewpoint of antagonist and protagonist are Marvel Comics' Magneto and Professor X. They both want mutants to be treated better, but because of Magneto's past as a Jewish boy during WWII, he believes that the humans will never see the collective "other" as their equal - at the very least, not through talk. Magneto believes he is doing the right thing by mutant-kind, but so does Prof X, who wants nothing more than for humans and mutants to get along. Another example is Regina from Once Upon A Time, who is a sympathetic villain and could be seen as the protagonist of her own story. – VelvetRose 1 year ago
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On the Morality of Monsters

We all know that Dracula is evil, Frankenstein’s monster is a brute and the hidden gods of Lovecraft drive humanity insane but could we be misinterpreting this? Harker gets a posse together to brutally slay Dracula while he is helpless, Victor Frankenstein creates his monster and abandons him and Humanity has forgotten about the Lovecraftian gods in favour of newer kinder ones. Could it be that each of these stories (and many others) can be read in an alternate way such that the "monsters" are actually mistaken, misinterpreted and working from a "good" motivation? This can transcend the canon literature and even look at modern day monsters

  • "Beauty and the Beast" anyone? – smartstooge 1 year ago
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  • Hey there, I don't think that we should create "monsters" like Frankenstein, or wipe them out without knowing whether or not the "monster" in question as actually a monster. A monster is something intrinsically evil...it works for evil, and doesn't repent and turn back to good. Many people would call Hitler a "monster", but the truth is, Hitler was a human, and that means he was fully capable of making moral decisions, and even loving every single person he had control over. "Monstership", I believe, is something that pertains to nature, not choice. You can't become a monster unless you ARE a monster. I'm not sure how helpful this note was, but it's some food for thought! – Hedekira16 1 year ago
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  • This is a great opportunity to talk about how subjective morality is. For example - if a vampire has to drink blood to survive, and do so, are they truly evil just because humans have decided it is an evil act to drink blood? Why are vampires in fiction considered 'good' if they drink animal blood instead of human blood, when it makes no difference to them because they are a different species anyway? It would be interesting to discuss humans imposing their moral system on other creatures. – Grace Maich 1 year ago
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  • Uh, I thought Frankenstein's monster was a victim? The author of the novel made his plight entirely sympathetic, and despite all his faults and flaws, Frankenstein's monster was pretty remorseful and set out to kill himself after his creator die.I'm also currently reading Dracula, so I'll get back to you on that, but from my understanding, Dracula really is just plain ol' evil. And from my understanding, Lovecraftian gods have a sort of bizarre morality, where our concepts of good/evil don't really... work with them.This isn't the first time this topic's been explored, but I welcome you to take a stab at it. – Helmet 1 year ago
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literature
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The subtleties of terror across genres

We are all aware that video game and movie adaptations take liberties with source material (the literature that they are drawn from) but how does a scary piece remain scary? When a reader engages with the text, terror and horror come from anticipation and foreshadowing. Video game users are directly engaged in making decisions and movie watchers are observers of somebody else’s vision of the "creature". In what ways does terror/horror translate across media? what makes something scary when it is taken outside our realm of imagination? Does horror/terror run the risk of being campy or cliché because it is no longer on the page?

  • Perhaps you can add the psychological component of fear to help address terror in these genres. – Venus Echos 2 years ago
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  • You've made a good point that video games are frightening because the player is consciously making a decision. In regards to film, the score (background music) usually helps build suspense. Lack of background music also makes things scary, because it usually leads to things popping up. – YsabelGo 2 years ago
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  • In gothic literature there is a reliance on the "sublime" the feeling of terror that is ultimately pleasant. This is achieved through the use of the setting in literature so spooky castles, dark weather and subtle changes to the environment are all a must. Now when this translates to lets say video games, these factors are exemplified! Music is added, the once purely imagined setting is now present, and there is the game mechanics to consider. Stress levels rise and your senses go into overdrive causing those factors which allow the sublime to thrive to grow even more palpable. – jonavitua 1 year ago
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Animals as symbols for humanity

It is not a new idea to have talking animals as characters in literature. Animal Farm is probably the most famous example but there have been more than just this. With the rise of comics/graphic novels we see emotionally stirring and intricate portraits of humanity being played out. The events of Maus, Squarriors and others are undeniably political, emotional and social. Why would an author and artist use animals as the main subject of their works when most of the time the plot/meaning of the work revolves around human experience? Is this a way to distance readers from the action so they focus on the main plot points or is this a way to make readers pay closer attention?

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    Where does gothic and fantasy meet?

    Gothic novels of the 1790s and beyond are characterized by certain medieval and fantastic circumstances "furnishings", which makes them easy to recognize. The modern world, however, has blurred that line and contemporary gothic is often conflated with fantasy. Why are fairies and dragons now seen as being gothic? why is there a preoccupation with fantastic creatures instead of monsters? Analyze historical periods or pieces of fiction that best represents this turning point. Art work/websites like Alchemygothic.com may be a good starting point.

    • It'd be helpful to note which type of fantasy you're going for. The genre is so vast and ambiguous nowadays that a distinction would be necessary. From what you describe, I'm guessing that it's high fantasy (HF) you're going for. Also, I think what makes Gothic different is its handling of high fantasy tropes. That is where dark fantasy (DF) would come into play, which is pretty much a mixture between HF and gothic. While DF uses HF settings and character tropes, it borrows heavily from Gothic structure and storytelling. – Tecohen0 2 years ago
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    • For the gothic novels side of things, some classics to look at would be...The Castle of Otranto Dracula The Monk (by Matthew Lewis) (my personal favourite gothic novel!!) books by Ann Radcliffe such as A Sicilian RomanceIt could also be interesting to consider the role of religion in modern fantasy/gothic versus older gothic novelisations. There was a lot of anti-Catholic rhetoric in English gothic novels, for example (see The Monk as a classic example. There are even demons in that novel, bringing in the more fantastical element). – Camille Brouard 2 years ago
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    • The title should say, "Where do gothic and fantasy meet?" -- subject/verb agreement – VBarclay 2 years ago
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    Published
    literature
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    What is next for the figure of the monster?

    Generally speaking monsters have had an ideological or didactic purpose. Ancient monsters taught us about social ill, medieval monsters were often used to demonstrate religious doctrines and enlightenment monsters taught the public something about the dangers of science. Contemporary monsters, however, seem to be much better looking and a whole lot friendlier (Twilight, Teen Wolf). What has this done to the meaning of monsters? Do they still teach us something? If monsters are going to be friendlier then what "should" we be scared of/ what is taking the place of traditional monster?

    • Ehh... I don't think you should quite judge the monsters in Twilight and Teen Wolf as their own original "monsters". They already have creative bases in vampires and werewolves/lycanthropes respectively, both respectable and influential monsters. Lycanthropes were popular as far back as Grecian days, so there's not too much in terms of originality there. However, a look at real contemporary monsters and what criteria encapsulates the essence of such a creature would be interesting. What human aspect does the monster reflect? What fear or worry does the monster embody? How are representations in media representative of these claims? Things like that would be interesting. A study into why Edward Cullen sparkles? Not so much. – Austin 2 years ago
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    • Modern monster? Dexter. – Jeffrey MacCormack 2 years ago
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    • I second Jeffrey MacCormack's comment. Our modern-day conception of "monster" has transformed from external, physical grotesqueness to a sense of internal othering. I would say this is true in both literature and TV (i.e. Dexter, Breaking Bad). The meaning of what constitutes a monster has become the trope of "the monster within," and I think this is certainly stirring and fascinating. I wonder what the specific angle would be that someone could take on this topic. – Rachel Watson 2 years ago
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    5
    literature
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    E.L. James V.S Marquis De Sade: Who did it better?

    Both the Marquis De Sade and E.L. James have garnered attention for their explicit sexualized literature. The Marquis crafting perverse pieces in the late 18th century and James writing hers in the 21st. Each of these authors claiming the reason behind their writing is liberation; the Marquis for liberation from an oppressive regime and James liberation from oppressive masculine hegemony. But who did it better? This is not an uncritical question of who had the more titillating stories, but who used their literature to best define sexual politics in their time. Is one more eloquent than the other? Do they share a common ground of exploration? Does the sublime play a role in both of their writings? These questions not only point to the changing relationship society has with sexuality but also how sexual politics continues to be a major source of debate.

    • Having read portions of both authors work, I'm not sure if this topic has much to go with except for the fact sex and bondage show up with more frequency then they do in say The Old Man and the Sea.De Sade would be as offensive today, and perhaps even more so, then he was in his day. (I thought about including an example, but if you want to know just google "De Sade Juliette", which is not even his most "ambitious" work) James on the other hand, is perverse to people who've never seen an R rated movie and is probably offensive to people who've actually had sex.James seems to have a lot of fondness for the themes of female purity civilizing the Byronic man, sacrificing one's self for love, and pursuing monogamous, heterosexual marriage as telos. For a series of books that's all about taking a turn into the sexual wild side, it's pretty vanilla in its moral sensibilities.If De Sade had to read the Shades trilogy, he'd think it was the dumbest dumb thing in the history of dumb things. He'd then probably write some angry fanfiction where James is subject to the kind of experiences De Sade typically makes his female characters endure, all the while having a stand-in for himself calling her stupid from the side lines. (De Sade would probably cast himself as some kind of heckler who James, in her delusion, believes to be her inner Goddess/Sadist)Quite honestly, each author's body of work is tough to "swallow", but for different, unpleasant reasons. James is in terrible need of an editor and De Sade follows the literary conventions of the 18th century, which doesn't always sing to contemporary ears. Before we even talk about the content in their works, just arguing for which is the more eloquent writer is like saying whether a pigeon or pterodactyl would do better swimming across the English channel. It's amusing to think about, but dreary to pursue. – rj2n 2 years ago
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    Latest Comments

    DClarke

    What a thorough and well researched article. You presented this amazingly! it makes me want to protest the take-down/changes that have occurred.

    The Lost Civilization of Pottermore
    DClarke

    Great work. It was fun but informative and really well thought out. I think that the zombie really has become the monster of the moment and you touch on a lot of reasons why. Excellent contribution!

    The Zombie Invasion of Pop Culture: They Want Your Brains
    DClarke

    Very interesting. I like how you touch on the IP of the whole thing. I know that there are issues with intellectual property when fans create things as well as when design and programming students create games. It is a difficult area of both art and law.

    Pokémon: The Unique Experience of Fan-Made Games
    DClarke

    I think that horror has to operate on some degree of stereotyping, it is essentially built in to the fabric of the gothic. It is always interesting to see how far creators/writers take the stereotypes and how well they handle them. I agree that Scream Queens uses these old stereotypes but they are at least attempting to modernize them and bring in issues that are relevant. Nice article.

    Scream Queens: Sorority Girl Stereotypes
    DClarke

    Great article! I especially love your conclusion. I think that you really nail it on the head and come through with an amazing analysis.

    Why We Love Harley Quinn: Dissecting the Nature of DC’s Most Complicated Woman
    DClarke

    very well done. I think that you have completed a really nice and well written character study here.

    The Awakening: Where does the dream lie in Marriage, or Lust, or Freedom?
    DClarke

    Nice article. You definitely give him a fair shake and explain why it is difficult for a director to maintain critical success after starting off at the top. It is a shame that the interesting concepts he has in his movies tend to just become stagnant and childish under his control.

    The Rise and Fall of M. Night Shyamalan
    DClarke

    Very interesting. I think that it is an important message to keep in mind that communication can be more than just a letter and the way we send messages is just as relevant.

    The Modern Translation of Writing