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    Latest Topics

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    The Role of "Celebrity Animals"

    What can "celebrity animals" — like Dolly (the cloned sheep), Tilikum (the killer whale), or even the octopus who gained fame on the Netflix Original, My Octopus Teacher — tell us about "the human socially constructed natural world" as Nick Couldry calls it?

    Animals (especially charismatic species with which we feel we can identify) can certainly ground environmental issues and cause us to at least feel something for environmental crises. However, there is often unequal distribution of attention that leads to inequality: mediagenic coverage that places certain animals in a positive spotlight allows us to care more for a gorilla or elephant than for an insect or fish, for example.

    Media power is prevalent in the operation of animal fame. Given that human animals are the norm in studies of celebrity environmentalism, what difference does it make to consider the role of non-human animals? Consider, with reference to one non-human animal celebrity associated with environmentalism (like Dolly, Tilikum, or others that have come about in mainstream media).

    • I think this topic is great! Other examples that immediately come to mind are Harambe (the gorilla) and Cecil (the lion), both of whom came to be heralded as martyrs in the social media court of public opinion. I also wonder if less personalized/individualized examples might also fit into this paradigm, such as the nameless polar bears precariously photographed on shrinking ice sheets, or the much discussed declining honeybee populations (whose absence has been memorialized on boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios). How do these animals function as metonymical stand-ins for ecological destruction, and does the same logic of celebrity apply without the overtly anthropomorphizing gestures of assigning a proper name. On the subject of anthropomorphism, I wonder if there's also room in article to discuss the celebrity status of fictional animal protagonists, which seems to be most common of dogs (e.g. Call of the Wild, Old Yeller, Air Bud, Marley & Me, The Art of Racing in the Rain, etc.) and horses (e.g. Kholstomer, Black Beauty, and particularly War Horse -- on page, stage, and screen). Lastly, I'd be remiss if I didn't recommend the prospective author to read up on the recently scholarly literature in the booming humanities discipline of "Animal(ity) Studies," whose key contributors have been Carey Wolfe, Peter Singer, Jacques Derrida, Margo DeMello, and particularly the posthumanist theories of Donna Haraway. – ProtoCanon 4 months ago
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    • Verrrry nice! I'm assuming you've seen a lot of animal documentaries, including Blackfish (Netflix). If you can find anything, you might also use the story of Keiko, the orca who played Willy in the Free Willy franchise, as a source. I had some other suggestions, but it kinda looks like you're covered. :) – Stephanie M. 3 months ago
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    6
    literature
    Write this topic

    Novels with complex structures

    Mark Z Danielewski’s House of Leaves is probably the most famous oddly structured book. For the most part there’s two separate narratives; the narrator’s own story is told in footnotes, the main body of the text being the discovered critical analysis by Zampano of a non-existent documentary film about an ever-changing house. Zampano’s also blind, btw.

    It’s a little bit gimmicky, but at times the Zampano essay is stunning, with some of the most memorable sinister moments in modern literature.

    Beside House of Leaves, I was surprised by the twist of the plot and development in these books:

    Abraham Verghese: Cutting for Stone.

    Orhan Pamuk: Museeum of Innocence. (This is a love novel, and you may not like this genre.)

    Benito Perez Galdos: Fortunata and Jacinta.

    Theodor Kallifatides: In her Gaze. (First written in Swedish, but it is translated into some other languages. I do not know if English belongs to them.)

    Selma Lagerlöf: The Story of Gösta Berling. Repeatedly some one will predict an event that is easily seen to be impossible, unless supranatural phenomena are included. And then the event does occur, but because of perfectly natural causes.

    Arnold Zweig: The Fight Over Sergeant Gruschka. (In WWI Gruschka is a deserter from the Russian army and had been living in a German P.O.W. camp. He had escaped. What he is most eager to avoid is to be send back to this camp. A woman eventually advises him how to avoid that – but he will actually suffer worse outcomes.)

    • Really interesting topic! I would add The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. Different narrative voices intertwine and the font plays a really important role too. The Dick and Jane story at the beginning of the novel is written 3 times - one normally, one without punctuation and one without any spaces between letters. Worth reflecting on what that is supposed to mean. And the book is structured by seasons, comparing the Dick and Jane vision of spring, all nice and pretty, and the afro-american's reality of spring in the 1960s - rape and violence. And Gabriel Garcia Marquez' A hundred Years of Solitude. – Rachel Elfassy Bitoun 6 years ago
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    • What about Faulkner? I'm thinking The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying. – Kristian Wilson 6 years ago
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    • I'm thinking Scandinavian crime/mystery-thrillers and their impact on modern fiction (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). – Thomas Munday 6 years ago
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    • The structure and themes of Cloud Atlas could be another book to consider for this topic. I find the puzzling feature of the structure of linked stories or novel-in-stories to be intriguing and feel it could be inserted into this topic. Some other linked story novels include: Circus in Winter by Cathy Day. Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, and Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston. – BethanyS 6 years ago
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    • Interesting. But would you mind explaining what are the questions this topic is going to answer/any potential central argument? For example, what the authors are trying to do with the unusual structures? What messages do they convey? I would also suggest to look a bit into the history of the novel. – Ka Man Chung 5 months ago
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    The effects that acting/voice roles have had on individuals in their lives

    I read another note entitled, ‘The effects of Iconic roles on an Actor and his/her career’ and I was excited that it might be a topic on something I’ve long contemplated on, but the description specified a different interest. So I decided to submit my own topic. I’m interested in hearing about the ways in which taking on certain roles have impacted an actor’s personal life. By acting as someone else, do they find themselves becoming that character at times in their personal lives? Having had practiced traits that were perhaps new to them before their role, does it change them? Does it help or hinder them? Have they learned about new things because of a specific role, i.e. an actor acting as an astronaut – have they learned about space? This might perhaps be interesting to research into child actors as well. Since they’re in a bubble surrounded by adults, is it daunting? Etc. Mainly though how specific roles have impacted their personal lives is my interest.

    • A new documentary on Netflix called "Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond" could be a great source of inspiration for this kind of topic. It shows the drastic effect a character can have on an actor. – Slaidey 4 years ago
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    • Of course, every actor is different and has different experiences with their roles. Thus, it might be a bit difficult to narrow down this topic without choosing a few actors and actresses to focus on. Perhaps the article can connect these individuals by ways in which their acting is similar and/or different from the others in the article. I think it would also be beneficial to look into how different techniques of acting can affect the actor. – Kabria 4 years ago
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    The Nolan effect- a darker take on the modern superhero film

    A modern trend as it would appear, in superhero films-especially those within the DC comic book universe, would be the darker, more realistic cinematic portrayal of the heroes themselves. This trend seemed to be pioneered by director Christopher Nolan in his critically acclaimed ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy which showcased the most critically installment of Batman thus far. This article could discuss these titles as such.

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      Romanticism and Hippie Culture

      It can be argued that Romanticism has continued to persist past the 1800s and continued on one form or another. With this in mind, it would be interesting to see a comparison between Romanticism and Hippie culture. Is Hippie culture a continuation of Romanticism? What are the similarities and differences between these ideals? How does it show up in literature?

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        Comparing the Differences Between Sherlock and Elemenary

        Sherlock Holmes has had many renditions, but BBC’s Sherlock and CBS’s Elementary came out about the same time. BBC’s Sherlock takes the stance that Sherlock is a high functioning sociopath while CBS’s Sherlock is a recovering addict. These renditions affect how other characters in the series were represented as well as how they interact with him. How do these differences compare to the books and do both versions show a strong representation of a version of Sherlock Holmes in their own right?

        • Interesting topic however I would urge the writer to tread carefully. When examining multiple editions and origin stories things can get messy. A focal point (perhaps characteristics all the renditions share? what is it that makes Sherlock "Sherlock" ?) is very important to execute this successfully. – Mela 5 years ago
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        • You've misspelled elementary in the title. – Tigey 5 years ago
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        How is Japanese Horror (J-Horror) Distinct from Other Horror Genres?

        Analyze and discuss how j-horror is distinct from other genres of horror, particularly its defining characteristics and notable directors or narratives (i.e. What makes them notable, to you as a viewer and the overall field?) Discuss its historical and recent developments. Have there been any emergent prominent themes? Compare it to remakes.

        • I believe that Japanese Horror is the most scariest horror there can be. I think the gruesome detail and illogical scare factor (i.e. monster, spirit, ...) is what characterizes the way horror is brought in Japanese Horror. – naturalbeautyqueen 5 years ago
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        Published

        How to maintain your motivation to write

        The struggle with motivation and focus can be helped by habit. I’m a fan of two steps, which has worked well for me, although of course everybody’s different.

        1. Have some sort of master plan: an outline, a flowchart, a spreadsheet, a detailed synopsis, an index card for each scene, or whatever other organizational method works for you. Know the whole story before you begin writing; most novels that remain incomplete are that way because the writer started without knowing where he was going and how to get there. For a first novel, a plan is vital. Maybe you can write your second without one, but first you need to know you can finish a work that big.

        2. Once your whole story is planned out, try the BIC method. That’s your butt in chair for a set amount of time every day, minimum 30 minutes. (An hour or more is better. You want to write this novel or not?) During BIC time you have two options, and only two. You may write, or you may not write. You can’t be online, have the TV on in the background, read or send texts or instant messages, play a computer game, do writing-related research, read what you’ve already written, adjust your outline, eat, smoke, or anything else. Write or don’t, period. (Those who give themselves BIC of more than an hour can schedule a break if they must have one–but it doesn’t count as part of the BIC time.) If others in the household might disturb you, you need to find a way to make that not happen, like doing it while they’re at work or school, asleep, or take your BIC time at the library or a coffeehouse. Most days, you’ll write. On the best days, you’ll ‘catch fire’ and go beyond your assigned time, which is great. However, you can’t amass credit. The next day, you still owe the same amount of BIC time as every other day.

        Teaching yourself to write even when it doesn’t come easily or you don’t feel like it is part of the road to being a professional writer whose work other people pay to see.

        • If someone wrote about this topic, I'd definitely read it. There are a lot of different methods out there. I haven't heard of the BIC before, but the strategies I'm familiar with are very similar. Having a routine is crucial. Writing at the same time each day for a set duration of time ensures that you write everyday. Listening to music also helps me concentrate, especially if the music fits the mood of the piece I'm working on. Maybe also setting aside time to edit your work and do research is good idea. Every few days or so I'll reread what I've written just to make sure I don't have any glaring errors or things I can easily fix before continuing on. – S.A. Takacs 7 years ago
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        • I love the idea of this topic. I would definitely read it. It could also be interesting to do some research and add some tips/suggestions from successful authors on what they do to combat writer's block and maintain motivation. – bookworm2g9 7 years ago
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        • I like the idea that you are presenting, You also have made some important suggestions. Motivation at the same time is a very personal matter and has to be catered to individual needs and talent. While I enjoy guidebooks or foundation books that provides instructions on successful writing, often it is difficult to follow all the rules. Perhaps one point that this article could address is how to successfully use such guides. – Arazoo Ferozan 6 years ago
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        • I am currently reading "Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation" by Stephen Johnson. In Chapter 3, Johnson explores how some ideas are shaped over the course of generations and pieced together from the findings of different individuals. He calls this process the "slow hunch." Here is a sample of the text: “Keeping a slow hunch alive poses challenges on multiple scales. For starters, you have to preserve the hunch in your own memory, in the dense network of your neurons. Most slow hunches never last long enough to turn into something useful, because they pass in and out of our memory too quickly, precisely because they possess a certain murkiness. You get a feeling that there’s an interesting avenue to explore, a problem that might someday lead you to a solution, but then you get distracted by more pressing matters and the hunch disappears. So part of the secret of hunch cultivation is simple: write everything down." – DoultonSchweizer 6 years ago
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        • Ideally there are some characters that come to life and just need to be written. Others stories write themselves. I always wait for it and never forget to thank my muse. – Munjeera 5 years ago
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        • Butt in Chair is excellent! Truly, the story isn't going to write itself, and instead of planning what you're going to do the next time you write, just start writing! Don't allow yourself to procrastinate! – gretawhipple 5 years ago
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        • I'm fascinated by anything to do with writers' processes, writers' habits and foibles. I'd read this. – J.P. Shiel 5 years ago
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        • Definitely focusing on the differences between intrinsic / extrinsic motivation would be a good angle for the story. You can only force yourself to write in a vacuum for so long, you need others to push you along. – MCSWM 5 years ago
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