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Mrs. America: Feminism Means What

Mrs. America (9 episodes on Hulu) has been praised for both the quality of the acting as well as the storyline. The series has addressed what can be described as focused on two different women’s movements: The movement that pushed for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and the movement that fought against it, led by Phyllis Schlafly and which centered on what can be seen as a culture war.
Gloria Steinem was overly critical of the series, seeing it as too focused on Schlafly and not centered on what she saw as the real opposition to the ERA which was the insurance industry as well as other economics organizations.
A writer deciding to address this topic should: 1) focus on the these two different women’s movements and how they interact as well as clash; 2) address where Schlafly should actually be placed in ranking her as a factor in contributing to preventing the passage of the ERA, and; 3) What does this series say about how we should look at what these opposing women’s movements have meant to contemporary America and to women specifically.

  • I think there's real value here in illustrating the ways in which the discussion surrounding feminism pits women against each other, by dividing them into "good" feminists and "bad" anti-feminists (or the other way around). It always struck me as a breeding ground for attacks on women, and that would be extremely dangerous. – Debs 2 days ago
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  • After seeing the Mrs. America series, and Gloria Steinem's autobiography turned into a movie (with Julianne Moore), I think one aspect of such an essay can be highlighting Steinem and Schlafly, two media personalities but quite different from each other with different goals in mind. Odd to consider that what began as what might be seen as a feminism movement (if that term is correct) with certain goals, should see a counter-movement arise. Is it possible to bridge the two in some way? Are there issues that they may have in common? Mrs. America did not present Schlafly in anything but a manipulative way, but it also seemed to present the supporters of ERA as ignoring the forces behind Schlafly, which, I think, was a wrong thing to do. In the series there is a moment where a friend and supporter of Schlafly's (Sarah Paulson) raises the issue of finding something in common and then it is just gone. – Joseph Cernik 2 days ago
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The Possibilities of Narrative

The problem of representation has persisted since antiquity. Literature had long opposed the writer’s ability to tell a story on one side, and to represent reality accurately on the other. The twentieth century has shown that both are concurrently achievable and modern literature, in particular the novel, is the product of the confluence of these two ideas.

An essay that explored how narrative has developed the capacity overcome this binary and to both tell a story and represent our experiences of reality would be a poignant contribution.

This is particularly pertinent in a cultural climate that continues to move away from homogenous conceptualisations of existence. In a cultural climate where language continues to lose authority it would be interesting to explore how language can adapt (as it always has) to overcome the severe destabilisation of what is (I use the term hesitantly) a Post-Truth world.

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    Riddley Walker: The Myths and Sense of Self-Denial Humankind Perpetuates In The Face Of Discovery And Change

    From the use of mythical stories to drive groupthink regarding the leveraging of forbidden knowledge, to the characters’ struggle with suppressing their innate desire for progress of any kind, Riddley Walker minced no words when it came to exposing humankind’s willingness to live in ignorance of their past and inner selves, with the lead character exploring and trying to make sense of a post-apocalyptic England instead of staying put in his settlement and abiding by orthodoxy.

    An article on Riddley Walker would break down the through-line that guides the book. That through-line being how humankind can falsely equate knowledge (i.e. the insight one possesses) with wisdom (i.e. how one uses the insight they possess in their interest and that of society), and how the devastating consequences of such an equation can drive folks to fence themselves in instead of trying to discover and use knowledge more carefully. The article could also take a look at one of the novel’s foremost inspirations—St. Eustace and the Legend that epitomizes the Christian martyr—and detail the ways in which said inspiration contextualizes the novel’s backstory.

    The main line of inquiry to be pursued could be as follows: How should one keep up with the inner drive to seek and implement knowledge without getting ahead of themselves? Should one fully trust fate to guide them on the path to knowledge, even if taking said path can potentially mean running afoul of one’s community and repeating the mistakes of the past?

    • What an exciting topic!In hindsight - trusting fate fully is both a blessing and a curse! I think eventually, after a certain number of what I call 'initiations', seekers learn to navigate and pace themselves through the labyrinths of experience, more easily done by surrendering control. Yes you will run afoul of one's community as it's an essential stage of the journey ;)...Ah but...the more I know the less I know. It's quite the paradox. Do we use knowledge or does knowledge use us? I have a theory about that. – RozeeCutrone 3 days ago
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    Ratched

    Ratched is a recent popular Netflix original series which is an adaptation based solely on the characterisation of the antagonist within Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel, "One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest". The questions that I pose is:

    1.How does screen adaptation archive success when not closely following the source material?

    2.An in-depth analysis of the mise-en-scene.

    3.What does this series say about the representation of women having power?

    (You can write about all, or focus on a section)

    • You have in essence a fan fiction. One way to address this is look at past equivalent success. See The Æneid. – J.D. Jankowski 2 weeks ago
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    • I think this topic can be incredibly interesting, and I actually like it! – RheaRG 6 days ago
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    The Crown and The Future King of the United Kingdom

    The Crown (Netflix) is in its fourth season. With the fourth season, more modern era events are addressed. The courtship between Charles and Diana (what there is of it) is addressed, as well as his inability to move on from Camilla (who now is his wife). At some point Charles will become the King of the United Kingdom, unless he decides to pass on it and, his son, William takes the crown. British tabloids have questioned whether Charles will, in fact, become King. How will the Netflix series play into the public perception of Charles? A poll that was conducted in 2018, said that only 36 percent of the British thought Charles was a positive force to benefit the monarchy. In 2014, a similar poll was conducted, and, at that time, 60 percent saw Charles as a positive force. Charles and Camilla married in 2005 so the 2014 poll was several years after they were married. The fourth season of The Crown does not make Charles look like anything but a person with emotional issues—not mental problems, just removed from showing a caring and emotional side. But, for the matter, each of the four children of Queen Elizabeth II do not come across well in the fourth season. Someone who decides to write on this topic should address how the British public comes to understand the monarchy through this series and whether the series can have some impact on how real-life figures are seen and judged. It may be too much to expect that the series can play into any decision regarding Charles or William becoming King, but a writer can speculate.

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    Music video films

    When music videos were introduced, they were merely another form of consuming songs. Music is capable of telling a story just as a film can, and both media involve time (a linear progression from beginning to end) as central to their stories. Artists like Daft Punk and Fall Out Boy, however, have demonstrated the coalescence of music and video to an extreme conclusion. Songs do not have to follow a specific concept or recurring cast of characters-like a concept album would-but the two groups’ music videos demonstrate the power to have all the songs on an album tell a story. Those self-contained story parts within music videos can then be released as a single feature-length film.

    Analyse the function of the music video as a storytelling medium, using Daft Punk’s ‘Interstella 5555’ (based on the album ‘Discovery’) and Fall Out Boy’s ‘The Youngblood Chronicles’ (based on ‘Save Rock and Roll’), along with any other examples of films constructed from individual music videos you might be able to think of.

    • You could also look at Kpop videos like 1NB's "Stalker," where the song doesn't even start until halfway through the video. – OkaNaimo0819 1 week ago
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    Nuns in Horror Movies

    Nuns appear as antagonists in many horror films, from The Nun to The Conjuring 2. What’s the fascination with them? What are the possible connotations/themes? Horror-themed TV series (e.g. American Horror Story) and video games with nuns can also be discussed, but the focus should be primarily on films.

    • I am not sure how helpful this will be, but in Matthew Lewis’ The Monk (an eighteenth century horror gothic novel), there is a horror figure known as the ‘Bleeding Nun’. She was basically a symbol for female sexual transgression. I think the idea relates to the nun being an allegedly ‘pure’ or ‘innocent’ woman. Thus, it’s ‘scary’ (or, for societies in the past who were afraid of giving women power, it was scary) to see a nun that is not pure or innocent. – Samantha Leersen 4 weeks ago
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    • I do agree with Samantha Leersen to some extent, since the nun is considered to be a manifestation of the Loving Mother archetype which when subverted gives us the Chaotic Mother who is embodied in many of the subversive feminine tropes. However, the subversion of the Great Father is the Tyrant Father whose embodiment inspires hatred as opposed to fear (like the Archdeacon in The Hunchback of Notre Dame). I can think of the Church in AOT etc. – RedFlame2000 4 weeks ago
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    • i think the sense of horror comes from a nun, typically associated with purity and innocence, doing out-of-character things. you could explore that. – BLOOPINBLOOPZ 2 weeks ago
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    Narrative Distance in Life Writing

    Life writing (memoirs, essays, autobiographies and biographies, auto-theory, etc.) is inherently personal in nature. These writings focus on personal stories that can be confronting for the reader to read, AND for the writer to write. They intend to communicate some form of personal, human truth.

    But what role does narrative distance play in these works? Does life writing have to be first-person perspective that recounts events exactly as they transpired? Or, can a writer distance themselves from the writing and still achieve the same intimacy of life writing?

    A range of texts could be discussed here; texts that approach life writing very differently.

    Some examples could include clear-cut autobiographies written in the first-person (of which there are many), or works of fiction where a made-up character represents a real person (semi-autobiographical works, like Jane Eyre or Frost in May). A more out-there example could be cook books — these often express personal stories under the guise of recipes. Travel writing, too, can often be an inadvertent style of writing about the self whilst maintaining some narrative distance.

    • Good topic! If I may, The Essays, of Michel de Montaigne could, perhaps, be a relevant example. Indeed, the goal of Montaigne was to depict himself in such a way every reader could find a bit of himself through the pages. In the preface, he wrote: “I am myself the matter of this book […] Every man has within himself the entire human condition”. Montaigne, under the cover of an autobiographical work, tackles, however, many subjects, whether it is social analysis ("Of Cannibals", for instance) or philosophical thoughts, through references to many ancient thinkers. The fact that it is a rather old book (1570-1592) and a French one, may also stress another aspect of narrative distance. – Gavroche 2 weeks ago
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    Film

    Memory in Film: Mementos and Maneuvering Through the Past
    Memory in Film: Mementos and Maneuvering Through the Past
    A Portrayal Of Mexican Cinema
    Life’s Torments in Billy Wilder’s The Lost Weekend
    Disability and Narrative: an Analysis of On-screen Characters

    TV

    The Heartbreaking Symbolism of The Clone Helmet In Star Wars: The Clone Wars’s Final Episodes
    The Heartbreaking Symbolism of The Clone Helmet In Star Wars: The Clone Wars’s Final Episodes
    The Donald Show: Trump, Television, and Manufactured Reality
    The Portrayal of Feminism in Fleabag (2016)
    The Good Place: Philosophically Sound?

    Animation

    Story of Will Vinton and Laika Studios
    Story of Will Vinton and Laika Studios
    How Princesses of Color Have Improved the Disney Princess Narrative
    The Legendary and Cautionary Tale of The Simpsons
    Ray Harryhausen: The Monster Maestro

    Anime

    Genkaku Azuma: Anatomy of a Tragic Villain
    Genkaku Azuma: Anatomy of a Tragic Villain
    Shiro’s Sexuality in Voltron: Legendary Defender
    The Character Development of Hikigaya Hachiman in OreGairu
    The Promised Neverland: A Dialectical Analysis of the Antagonist

    Manga

    Elfen Lied’s Eugenic Underpinnings
    Elfen Lied’s Eugenic Underpinnings
    The Horrifying Appeal of Junji Ito
    One Punch Man vs. My Hero Academia: Reconstructing the Silver Age of Comics
    Manga: How to Travel Between Dimensions

    Comics

    Monstress: World-Building With a Feminist Twist
    Monstress: World-Building With a Feminist Twist
    Why Has Batman’s Origin Remained So Iconic?
    Feminist Criticism of Society and Comic Books’ Past
    The Batman/Catwoman Wedding Is Supposed to Upset You

    Literature

    Books That Will Leave A Lasting Impression on Its Reader
    Books That Will Leave A Lasting Impression on Its Reader
    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: A Capitalist Dystopia
    Novels and the Battle of Gettysburg: Fiction Enriches History
    The Secret History: A Novel with Staying Power

    Arts

    Dragons: East versus West
    Dragons: East versus West
    Social Realism, New Masses & Diego Rivera
    Indian Food: A Multicultural Enterprise
    Expressing Mental Health Through Street Art

    Writing

    The Pillars of Outstanding Stories
    The Pillars of Outstanding Stories
    The Impact of Writing on Well-Being and Self-Development
    Riddles in Rhetoric: Learning from Bilbo and Gollum about Linguistic Segregation
    Susan Sontag and her love of photography