Samantha Leersen

Samantha Leersen

English and history graduate from Australia. I study literature to understand more jokes.

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    Latest Articles


    Latest Topics


    What Makes a Good Bottle Episode?

    A bottle episode refers to an episode of a T.V. show written to require only one or two sets, and only few non-regular cast members. These episodes are often the result of a dwindling production budget, or a pre-emptive cost-saving attempt.

    Some people view these as lazy, but bottle episodes often make for great television.
    An article on this could discuss specific examples of shows who have made successful bottle episodes, and how they have done so. Reasons could include great drama due to the restricted movement of characters. Or, many fan favourite bottle episodes are enjoyed because they showcase their characters in their truest form. The examples available are plenty, with famous shows like Friends, New Girl, or Community all having done them.

    The writer of this article could also use poorly received bottle episodes as a contrast, so long as they discuss why they were not successful.

    • Good topic! Bottle episodes are fascinating. I know a few good ones, especially from shows like The Twilight Zone (I'm a fan of some of the older stuff). You could even argue that certain shows or seasons are made up of bottle episodes. Once Upon a Time is my favorite example, especially the early seasons, because if you leave Storybrooke, something bad will happen. (Or, hold on, is that a bottle, or just a "closed circle?") Anyway, love the topic. – Stephanie M. 3 weeks ago
    • Is "The Fly" from Breaking Bad is another good example of a Bottle episode in a dramatic show. It was pretty polarizing when it was released but has some great acting from Brian Cranston and Aaron Paul. – Sean Gadus 2 weeks ago

    The Portrayal of Women in Gothic Literature

    Look at the portrayal of women in Gothic literature. What tropes do they often fulfil?

    There’s the shrieking heroine of The Monk or The Italian (written by Matthew Lewis and Ann Radcliffe respectively). Even modern day Twilight has this.
    Bram Stoker’s Dracula shifted things by having Mina as the ‘new’ woman – the only reason she was respected is because she supposedly had the brain of a man. Even then, she was viewed as someone who needed protecting.
    Even texts like Jekyll and Hyde make a statement about women’s place in society by simply NOT including women in the narrative.
    Modern Gothic texts tend to favour the cool and powerful female protagonist, which in theory seems empowering, but can also be problematic.

    What is the effect of each portrayal of women? Are the women in each given text empowered or powerless? Is historical/social context important in how the female characters are portrayed? Do any texts defy their time period? Is there a difference between texts written by men and texts written by women?
    An article on this should analyse a wide variation of texts, from different time periods.


      The Outsiders' Impact on YA

      Young adult fiction (YA) is immensely popular today, for both teenagers and adults. But the category itself is only very young. S.E. Hinton’s 1967 novel, The Outsiders, is popularly considered the first ever work of YA fiction.

      So, what precedent did this novel set for the rest of this category of fiction? What aspects of Hinton’s novel are now staples in YA?

      An example is the discussion of weighted and important topics in a manner that is consumable by teenagers (The Outsiders discusses the harsh realities of every day class divisions). Or, like many YA books nowadays, Hinton’s protagonist is characterised as an outcast, or ‘special’ (he even has an unusual name, Ponyboy, something many other YA protagonists have).

      Discussing a few YA texts that share similarities with The Outsiders will help to show the aspects of the original text that have become commonplace in the young adult category.

      • You do have themes that seem to have been popular in this particular time and a bit beyond outside of literature too. See the television series The Brady Bunch (c. 1966-69) – J.D. Jankowski 1 month ago
      • The Outsiders is a tremendous book and had a huge influence on many writers and readers. – Sean Gadus 1 month ago

      The Novella, a forgotten medium?

      I propose an article that looks at novellas. The article could describe first what they are, explaining the length and conventions, explore how they differ from both a novel and a short story.

      It could be worth looking into the history of this medium, when were they most popular and why? What were the first texts classified as novellas and what purposes did they serve? Perhaps offer suggestion as to why they are not big in the literary scene today.
      Then, the article could offer analysis of some famous novellas, The Metamorphosis, Heart of Darkness, Jekyll and Hyde, Of Mice and Men, just to name a few.
      Offer suggestion as to why these in particular were popular, was it their content? Context? Were their authors already published writers so fans would read anything of theirs?

      If so desired, contrast the good by offering examples of novellas that are perceived as not good and offer reasons as to why. Are they not given the space to be fully developed? Does its brevity mean it is missing something?

      Use this analysis to draw conclusions regarding the novella’s place in literature including, if possible, whether this medium is likely to regain popularity or merely survive as a medium at all.

      • Cool topic! I very much prefer long novels, but I have read some wonderful novellas, including Jekyll and Hyde and Of Mice and Men (although I have mixed feelings there b/c of outdated disability representation). Do you think serialized novels might fit the topic as well? – Stephanie M. 6 months ago
      • Serialised novels could absolutely fit the topic, if they can be logically incorporated into the discussion. Perhaps, they could be used to substantiate the length argument. Are novella-length texts enjoyed more when the reader knows there'll be one or two more instalments to follow? – Samantha Leersen 6 months ago
      • I love novellas, they have the detail of the novel with the accessibility (almost) of a short story. I think it would be useful in this prospective essay to acknowledge that a lot of the novels we associate with this time period (early 1900s) were originally serialised and were not necessarily released in the form we know them today. – hlewsley 2 months ago
      • One novella that could be analyzed here would be Hemingway’s last major work, The Old Man and the Sea (1962). Notably it is not serialized. – J.D. Jankowski 2 months ago

      Fragmented Literature: What Does It Achieve?

      Modernist texts are often heavily fragmented – the plot is jumbled and does not follow a simple beginning to end chronology. This can be off-putting for many readers as it can make a story hard to follow and less immersive.

      However, what are the benefits and what does writing in fragments achieve? An article could look at a selection of texts that are fragmented and offer an analysis of what this particular structure is doing.

      For example, in Kaddish for an Unborn Child by Imre Kertesz, the plot keeps circling back to the same line, its repetition representing the repetitive trauma it has caused the protagonist. Or, in The Corpse Washer by Sinan Antoon, the plot is broken up by page long chapters detailing the nightmares had by the protagonist which can show how they interject in his life just as they have interjected into the plot.
      There are many works of literature that fragment the narrative and do so for thoughtful and strategic reasons. Thus, exploring texts that do this meaningfully could be an interesting read!

      • I suppose in literature that would be food for thought. But, I can emphatically say that it occurs in film as well. Take for instance the film Raging Bull. To the untrained eye or first time viewer, the boxing scenes appear fragmented, or improperly edited. In fact, it is a deliberate technique known as image collision. Effectively what it does is arrange a sequence of scene cuts with no apparent flow between them. The viewer is left to fill in the gaps or smooth over the perforations in the actor's activity and the camera movement. In the process, the audience is drawn into the cinematic spectacle before them. I would be interested in knowing if this a common practice in literature as well. (Aside from the obvious example, Alice in Wonderland.) – L:Freire 4 months ago
      • Interesting. Modernism was a reaction against the inflexible confines of Victorian literature that preceded it. The motif of the circle, as in Kertesz's text, is an alternative to the traditionally linear conception of experience. The Modernist's realised that individual experience is not as simple as a traditional linear narrative with one major point of conflict; we think back, we reconsider, we hypothesise. The Modernists simply reflected this reality in the forms of their works. – hlewsley 2 months ago
      Taken by Hannan Lewsley (PM) 1 month ago.

      Job Precariousness in Sitcoms

      In many sitcoms, characters often suffer the consequences of job precariousness. This includes being underpaid, taking jobs they hate, or losing their jobs altogether.
      Almost the entire cast of Friends, Jess from New Girl, Britta or Jeff from Community, or the Roses from Schitt’s Creek are just some examples.

      An article looking at how these scenarios play out in T.V. could be an insightful read. Are they accurate depictions of real life, or do they diminish the real-world anxiety of this aspect of life? Is it enough to simply allude to homelessness or not being able to make rent, or should a show force its characters to endure this? You could offer a comparison of shows that do this well and shows that, perhaps, do not do this so well.

      You could offer an assessment regarding the impact this has on viewers, and contextualise the shows within both their setting and time of release.

      • It would be worth expanding this topic to examine and analyse similar scenarios in sitcoms from around the world. In this way, a comparison could be made between varying cultural values and institutional attitudes towards low paid workers. – Amyus 2 months ago
      • I think contextualizing the shows based on time of release is a good idea. Specifically, comparing the perception of unemployment in shows through every decade or during periods of financial downturn could be particularly interesting. – huiwong 2 months ago

      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 months ago

      The Morals of Video Game Violence

      Video games that require or encourage violence are prolific. There have been countless studies on whether the violence of such games has psychological impacts.
      But, what are the moral implications?

      Using a selection of games that involve violence, consider whether it is morally wrong to ‘physically’ harm a virtual character. Explain why.

      You could argue either side of this argument, or argue that the moral implications differ depending on the situation. For example, perhaps some forms of violence are more acceptable than others (e.g. fighting vs. murder). Or, maybe there’s a difference between harm the game tells you to inflict to complete an objective, and the harm you choose to inflict but has no bearing on your completion of the game.

      Ensure sound justifications are provided for whichever stance you take. Relevant philosophical discussion would complement this topic well.

      • Dealing with morality in anything encapsulates a very broad landscape, so I think the focus should be on video games where violence is so easily accessible or even promoted. Some franchises that come off the top of my mind would be Grand Theft Auto, Assassin's Creed, Elder Scrolls/Fallout, or even Infamous because these games have built-in consequences for committing morally "wrong" actions. There could also be an inclusion of games with multiple endings that rely on a player's "good" or "bad" choices such as any of the Telltale Games, but even then that might require an entirely different essay. Personally, I believe this topic could be made into 2 essays: one about games with easy ability to commit violently "wrong" acts and how they punish players who commit them, and games that embed the moral and ethical dilemmas of violent situations through its storyline. – Daniel Ibarra 3 months ago

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      Latest Comments

      Samantha Leersen

      Wow, I didn’t know they didn’t have the original music! I have only seen every episode on DVD, so now I’m a little disappointed that I haven’t experienced the show with it’s intended music.
      But, in saying that, kudos to whoever chose the music for the DVDs because it certainly all fits and sounds like it belongs there.

      Daria and the Clichéd Representation of Teenagers
      Samantha Leersen

      As a Victorian literature enthusiast, I’m disappointed that I had never heard of this book before. It is definitely on my list of must-reads now.

      Madness and Selfishness in Lady Audley’s Secret
      Samantha Leersen

      You can always re-watch the series! I’m fairly certain it is available for purchase on YouTube and Google Play.

      Daria and the Clichéd Representation of Teenagers
      Samantha Leersen

      I think that is what drew me to revisit the series when I was 17 or 18. She just seemed so darn cool, in a way that I could relate to. She could be a little unfair in her criticism of people, but she was a good role model.

      Daria and the Clichéd Representation of Teenagers
      Samantha Leersen

      I did know that. They did incredibly well writing these characters.

      Daria and the Clichéd Representation of Teenagers
      Samantha Leersen

      Thank you for your kind words 🙂

      Daria and the Clichéd Representation of Teenagers
      Samantha Leersen

      I had no idea they were making a spinoff! I need to look into that.

      Daria and the Clichéd Representation of Teenagers
      Samantha Leersen

      Thank you so much for your kind words! This is exactly why I wanted to write about her. She had such an influence on many big poets, yet her name has been almost forgotten along the way. I am so glad you enjoyed my article!

      Charlotte Turner Smith: Empowering Women with a Sonnet