Allie Dawson

Allie Dawson

Scribbles away unceasingly. Learn more at https://theriddleofstrider.wordpress.com/

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    Latest Articles

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    Latest Topics

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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.

    • Great topic! A portion of this article should definitely be devoted to the portrayal of Christmas elves, as a complete 180 deviation from the kind seen in Tolkein. How did the archetype of a tall, noble, immortal warrior turn into the short, subservient toy-makers (or tree-dwelling cookie-makers, or nocturnal shoe-makers, etc) that's become so ubiquitous in our contemporary lore? – ProtoCanon 2 months ago
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    • The writer could also stand to look into pixies/imps/brownies and other fae folk for this topic. More than a few of them have gotten mixed together. – Mariel Tishma 2 months ago
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    "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.

    • One of my favorite adaptations is actually the 1999 TV movie. That's likely an incredibly nostalgia-based opinion since I watched it a lot during my early childhood. Nevertheless, it's one of my favorites because it still retains the intelligence of the book. I wasn't a huge fan of the Tim Burton version (although I still haven't seen the sequel yet) since it was more of a fantasy action-adventure story involving good versus evil. For me, it lacked a bit of Lewis Carroll's signature wit whereas the 1999 version did a good job of showing just how ridiculous and nonsensical the adult world can be through the eyes of a child. – aprosaicpintofpisces 2 months ago
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    Taken by SDale42 (PM) 3 weeks ago.
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    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?

    • I think this topic could also be written contrary to your title, as one could make the argument that there is always a way to update the classics, maybe even essential to update the classics in order to make them accessible. I LOVE the way the new BBC Sherlock Holmes updates Sir Arthur Canon Doyle's stories. I think the change from pipe to nicotine patches and the updates to Dr Watson being a soldier in Afghanistan in the 21st century instead of in the 19th century are some examples of great updates that lead audiences to want to revisit the classics while still enjoying the new interpretations. – Kevin 4 months ago
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    • The Lizzie Bennett Diaries (youtube series) did a good job of updating the story, including Lydia's story line. I think as long as people feel like women should be shamed for their sexuality, people will use it against them. – chrischan 2 months ago
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    • This is a very interesting topic. If I was to write it, though, more time would be spent probably on the "why things shouldn't be 'modernized'" in the first place. I've seen Much Ado about Nothing set in 1940s Argentina performed in the West End of London- even David Tennant and Katherine Tate couldn't save that one. Even locally here, we've had Cabaret set in a Kabuki Theatre because Nazi Germany is too offensive, and not to forget the all-white version of The Wiz. I believe great art, whether movie, TV, theatre, or what have you, should be left alone. There's a reason it's known as great art, or classics. Sorry for the rant, but as you can see this is something near and dear to my heart. Cheers! – NoDakJack 2 months ago
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    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.

    • This is a hugely broad topic. Is there a way to narrow this down? As it stands, this could be like at least five or six different articles. I could write one just on Spiderman. – Christen Mandracchia 4 months ago
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    • This topic is a good one, but it covers a lot of ground. I would focus on just a certain movie or just include some of the films and TV shows from the years right after 9/11. There have been a lot of movies and TV shows that display the affects of 9/11 in the past 15 years. – TaylorNCampbell 4 months ago
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    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)?

    • I agree that cliche is such a damning critque. But to answer your question, I think cliches could be used as a good thing, if the writer itself can twist the cliche and create some sort of originality to it and grad the reader's attention even if the reader already knows its a cliche. If that makes any sense! – Tkesh 7 months ago
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    • Clichés can be used effectively when there is a surprise twist to them. For example, M. Night Shyamalan usually writes a story with a twist. – Munjeera 7 months ago
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    • Great topic. How can Bob Dylan use cliches and tap into collective conscience while others are just unimaginative or lazy? – Tigey 7 months ago
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    • It depends how the cliché is being used. For example, you could try twisting one so much to the point where it criticizes the use of original version of the cliché or you can use a tried and true cliché and use it to underline the importance of certain aspects in the story. – RadosianStar 5 months ago
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    • Probably one of the reasons cliches are dreaded as much as they are is because of what it does to the reader. Our minds tend to disengage from phrases we've heard over and over again. I agree with what everyone else has already said about adding a twist to cliches to make them sound more original. That being said, everything we consider cliched now was original at one point in time and the likely reason it's been overused is because it once captured that particular truth so well. Nothing is one hundred percent original anyway, so why are cliches given such a hard time? In the case of cliches, we notice its unoriginality right away whereas other forms of repetition may be better disguised. – aprosaicpintofpisces 5 months ago
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    • I think that a cliché knowingly used with a hint of irony visible to the reader can be worthwhile. The real problem emerges when the author isn't aware that parts of their work is unoriginal. – IsidoreIsou 5 months ago
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    • I think this writing not can be very useful to writers if there were some articles that could point them towards publishing! – VAnnM 3 months ago
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    "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.)

    • 'Canon' has always had its 'fanon,' insofar as canonical work requires a certain apparatus of replication. Nothing is canonical if it does not get to the point where it invites imitation. Example: Cervantes's 'Don Quixote' invited, in C18th, the self-explanatory 'Female Quixote' of Charlotte Lennox. It also caused Flaubert to write, a century later, 'Madame Bovary' (about a woman who believes herself to be a character in her favorite romances). Tolstoy's 'Anna Karenina' also deals with a protagonist who feels misplaced in the world she is inhabiting. If Cervantes was the original, then all the rest are reinforcements of the same 'canon.' They are, to a certain extent, 'fan fiction.' But they are also excellent examples of how imitation of a precedent can create powerful independent work. – Francisc Nona 9 months ago
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    • The R+L=J theory for Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire is practically considered canon in the fandom even though it hasn't been revealed...yet.I think it would be interesting to look into the psychology behind fan theories. Why do people discuss fan theories? What draws them into engaging in "fanon?" – Lexzie 9 months ago
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    • Vince Gilligan's attitude toward Breaking Bad is something like, Sure that could be in there. I guess that's a strength of ambiguity, which he admits to employing throughout the series. – Tigey 5 months ago
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    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?

    • This sounds like an intriguing topic and I like the idea of using specific cases of literature to prove your thesis. For whoever chooses to write this topic, it might also be useful to examine how exactly coincidence is seen as a detriment in literature and what made it appear to be undesirable to use for modern writers. – MAG95 7 months ago
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    • Perhaps the Victorians were big on fate. There's so much coincidence in Dickens thwt I can picture people,rolling their eyes at a retell ins of one of his stories, but his stories are wonderful and believable. – Tigey 7 months ago
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    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?

    • A few things to consider...there are moviegoers who are well-versed on the comic book series of these films and take the material very seriously. As with book adaptations, audiences become frustrated when a film is untrue to the original story. As for "The Avengers,"...part of the appeal, in my opinion is the numerous characters featured that lead to audiences to find a connection with a particular character(s). As for "Batman v. Superman," I do believe part of the problem was the characters--especially that of Batman--not staying true to his perceived persona, as previously established. When a character that is beloved acts differently than what people expect, audiences become angered. Now, "The Dark Knight Series," with met with exceptional critical and viewer praise. Why is this? Well, the films were exceptionally done, and the moral conflicts, the human turmoil, and the complex multi-dimensional villains provided audiences with not only a high-octante film, but one that viewers connected with on an emotional level. – danielle577 8 months ago
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    • In addition, it might also be interesting to discuss X-Men, and 20th Centurty Fox's lack of continuity throughout not only their trilogies, but the whole movie franchise. – Maureen 8 months ago
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    • Part of what sets Marvel apart from other production studios is that they spent more time building their universe. I can't remember there being any shared universes in major studio movies before Iron Man came out, and Marvel had a game plan that they were working from. Now that other studios have seen how successful a universe with multiple connected properties can be, they're jumping on the bandwagon, but without enough time to sufficiently build the worlds that their characters exist in.Also, and danielle said this, Marvel was working with B-level comic characters, so they had to make sure the characters and they're stories were engaging before relying on the spectacle of a superhero fight. DC/WB knows that the names Batman and Superman will sell tickets, so they felt confident in throwing the two together without taking into account their core characteristics or how they would deal with the world around them (which has been done fantastically in several animated movies and TV shows). A lack of widespread familiarity with characters like Iron Man or Captain America meant that marvel could define these characters in stand alone stories, and then put them on a team knowing what the dynamic of that team would be. – chrischan 7 months ago
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    Latest Comments

    Allie Dawson

    “Carrie” could almost be considered a modern take on the ‘Revenge Tragedy’ (i.e., Hamlet), honestly.

    Carrie White: Horror's Most Relatable Anti-Heroine
    Allie Dawson

    I’ve never seen any Baz Luhrman, but I enjoyed your analysis of one of his favorite tropes. One of my favorite novelists, Regina Doman, once said she’d probably never feature a writer as a protagonist because, to her, it seemed narcissistic. Therefore, when I began reading classic literature and other sorts of books, I was surprised to find how many works of fiction feature a writer as a major character. They say “right what you know” but I always thought, while it can be done well, a writer writing a writer is a proposition fraught with peril.

    From The Get Down to Moulin Rouge: A Look at Baz Luhrmann's Writer-Heroes
    Allie Dawson

    Interesting observations: I believe it was C.S. Lewis who said that you haven’t really read a book if you’ve only read it once (or something to that effect). I think much of the value of rereading depends also on the book itself. If it’s a “classic,” among the greatest ever written, then rereading only peels back the layers of meaning and depth that can’t be captured on a first read. Something like “The Babysitter’s Club,” though, while it might bring up some warm and fuzzy nostalgia, but rereading in adulthood only proves how shallow it is. Still, I think even those sorts of books are with rereading (or skimming)–it would at least prevent you from recommending it to someone else.

    Why Reread Books? The Pros and Cons of Rereading
    Allie Dawson

    Love this! Folk songs are always at the top of my playlist, and it’s nice to see them taken seriously every once in a while.

    Folk Music: A Timeless Genre
    Allie Dawson

    Interesting analysis. I don’t play video games myself, but I respect those that do, and admire the medium from afar. Beauty, I believe, is something objective (though hard to pin down), and I therefore see no reason video games can’t be considered art. That being said, though, I think this is a question that will probably only be settled by the test of time.

    Graphics, Pixels, and the Art of Video Games
    Allie Dawson

    My family and I have been Star Trek nerds for years now, so encounter with the stereotypes of fans was inevitable (though I never encountered anything quite as hostile as you’ve chronicled here). Thanks for such a great analysis of nerd culture!

    Star Trek and Society's Ridicule of its Early Fans
    Allie Dawson

    Much as I love (or maybe have loved) the genre, at this point I’m beginning to think it’s become too bloated and unwieldy. I was pumped for the first Avengers; the prospect of Avengers 3 (whatever it’s called) is just exhausting.

    Killing Superheroes: What's Keeping New Superhero Invention?
    Allie Dawson

    I love stop-motion animation. CGI done well can have a lyrical sort of beauty, but stop-motion has a much different effect since, though “cartoons” in a sense, what is seen on the screen is real. The objects actually exist in the real world. That adds to the medium a sort of depth, I think, not given by hand drawn of CGI animation. And yet, such qualities make is unusually suited to “creepier” stories, like the Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline.
    Thank you for this beautiful tribute for a much underrated medium

    Understanding the Art of Stop Motion