Samantha Leersen

Samantha Leersen

English and history student at La Trobe University, Australia. I study literature to understand more jokes

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    Latest Articles

    Latest Topics


    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 3 days 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. 2 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 2 months ago

    Film Adaptations Better than the Book

    In almost every ‘which is better, book or movie?’ debate, the book wins. For a plethora of reasons, from intense detail to unique character-building, books are almost always dubbed better than their adaptations.

    But what about the film adaptations that are better than their original book?
    Offer several examples of adaptations better than their original. Discuss what they do so correctly that allows them to win this battle.

    Do they take away the difficult language of a book to make an important story more accessible? Are the characters better rounded and more realistic? Does the film cut out unnecessary details that are included in the book? Is there a changed detail that improves a film — different setting, different main character, different conclusion, perhaps. Is it simply a case of visuals portraying the content better than words can (say, an intense action sequence for example).

    There could be ANY number of reasons and ANY number of films to be discussed.
    This topic does run the risk of coming across as too subjective though, so ensure that sound analysis is offered to justify your claims.

    • I like this topic, but I would hesitate to characterize any movie or book as "better" than the other adaptation, because that's strictly a matter of opinion. What I would do instead is, focus on how books and films are completely different mediums, as well as how and why certain books lend themselves better to film adaptations. I might start with longer-form books, such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The books are great, but as someone who read them, I'd say they're also a slog. The movies definitely communicate the books' messages more clearly, and leave more room for discussion/exploration. – Stephanie M. 2 weeks ago
    • I'm so glad you brought up this topic! I don't believe books are always automatically better than their film counterparts. Perhaps it is also a matter of upholding whatever came first. As you mention, there are many films which are based off of an initial written text. What about the case, though far less common, of films where a book was written in conjunction with or second to the film? For example, one of my favorite films is The Third Man. The screenplay was written by Graham Greene, who also developed a novella version. The book does a good job of illustrating certain details one might miss in the film, but the film is a masterpiece when it comes to "underplaying." It only says what it needs to, which makes it so memorable and striking. I also prefer the film adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany's to Truman Capote's novella, despite the fact that the film departs quite a bit from the source material. One of the reasons is I found Audrey Hepburn's version of Holly Golightly far more vulnerable and sympathetic a character. Truman Capote lingered on the superficiality of his characters, which left me feeling uninterested by comparison. – aprosaicpintofpisces 2 weeks ago
    • You managed to rehash a contentious issue among art lovers. As has been stated in prior posts, adaptations are analyzed ad infinitum. Yet in terms of this topic, I think you could argue slightly different, for a change of pace. All writing goes through drafting phases and all authors go through periods of productivity and delay or self-doubt. That said, how can we destroy a film adaptation that is merely going through a rough phase, on its merry way to the final version? Doesn't sound fair to the director. As far as adaptation goes, an author that is true to his craft and steadfast to the theme will inevitably produce the elusive masterpiece,followed by an equally acclaimed film adaptation, one may argue. Another incumbent will fumble the narrative by second-guessing the motive and the medium, failing to strike a vital chord with the audience in the process.Nevertheless, it's a valid concern. There is a documentary on The Virgin Suicides that makes the case for inclusion of the writer within the filming process. Of course, Sofia Coppola has the ultimate say over the characterization of the narrative. But the author of that novel, Jeffrey Eugenides, was a vital component behind the dialogue, the mood, and the setting. Also, it is not uncommon for the reverse to occur and achieve rather successfully. For instance, the Star Trek TV episode "All the Yesterdays" made a seamless foray into a series of acclaimed novel tie-ins by A.C. Crispin. The onscreen romance between Spock and Zarabeth translated into two compelling novels on time travel and a supposed offspring between the pair.A compelling factor in this debate is circumstances. The ancient Greeks wrote dramatic recollections of events that moved audiences of the time and to this day in practically every discipline that has emerged since then. But, in those times there were no motion pictures to reclaim those texts. Then, Shakespeare entered the picture with an equal fervor for shining light on the pressing matters of his day. Presently, we submit to the same appetite for literary escape with authors such as J.K. Rowling and Suzanne Collins, probably as eagerly as the Greeks and the British did in the early days of the art. In those times as is today, the stage was the medium for the written script. I venture to guess that audiences had their preferences for certain actors and theatres when reading the written play was not a viable option nor a preference. Perhaps, it may be that reading the plot in the comfort of a familiar setting with pleasant music or refreshment is the reason why some people opt for this method of entertainment. Indeed, the pace of a book or the flash of color and splash of sound in a film is what draws fans to each particular venue. So, an author's style or an actor's appeal may be the reasons why people turn to different sources of entertainment, including the online variety. I suppose radio producers had the same challenges in their respective field that could be incorporated into this topic. – L:Freire 1 week ago
    • I feel like this topic has been discussed over and over again over the past year. I believe there may be an article about this topic on the site over the past year. – Sean Gadus 1 week ago
    • I feel like we have almost moved past the "which is better?" question. Growing up it was always comparing the film to the source text, but as I become older I find myself comparing the media less often. I focus on if the adaptation did the source text justice, and if the changes that were made were justifiable. The film version of Gone Girl, for example, sticks to the novel pretty nicely, but with some detail changes that both enhance and take away from the book. While films like Annihilation and I'm Thinking of Ending Things are different visions from the source texts, and I respect them both for what they are. They almost become separate stories, but so long as the intent of the source text is respected, then I can happily enjoy the film versions. – Benedetto 4 days 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.


      Historical Texts that Captivate Readers

      Writers of history usually receive the bad reputation of being boring and uninspired storytellers, for the events of history aren’t designed to be page-turners. On the other hand, there are histories that embellish for the sake of storytelling but compromise accuracy. This is also criticised.

      Thus, an article exploring histories that are both accurate and educational whilst still captivating audiences would be a great read.

      Offer examples of good histories, and give reasons as to why they are effective as both works of popular literature AND educational history resources. Jung Chang’s Wild Swans or Ten Days That Shook The World by John Reed are two good examples.
      Some factors that make history writing ‘good’ include: the inclusion of personal stories (not mere objective facts), prose that is accessible to all, not just academics, and the formation of a chronological narrative that, while remaining accurate, sparks interest and excitement.

      There are some wonderful examples of written history that tend to get lost amongst the ‘boring’ stuff. So an article highlighting examples of good history, and analysing why that is, would be interesting and perhaps even helpful for those looking to write public history.

      • Seeing this topic has reminded me of Lucy Worsley's recent PBS documentary series Royal Myths & Secrets. In it, she explores how the public images of famous figures such as Elizabeth I, Queen Anne, and Marie Antoinette have been heavily distorted from their flesh-and-blood counterparts. Details such as when these historical accounts were written, the relationship between writer and subject, differences between national propaganda/mythical storytelling and textual evidence/alternative accounts, etc. all play a role. Like you said, it raises ethical questions over what "the truth" is in the pursuit of a good story. Do the ends ever justify the means? – aprosaicpintofpisces 1 month ago
      • This something that I struggle with as a student of history; what is a historian's vocation? Is it just writing just what happened as Leopold von Ranke put it so long ago? Or is it telling a tale about what happened as Herodotus did in his masterful work? Or should a historian try to craft laws of history in the vein of the early and post-War Annales School? Is he/she a scientist, a writer or a philosopher? I'd think it was a mix of all three. – RedFlame2000 1 month ago

      What in the world was Roland Barthes on about in 'A Lover's Discourse'?

      In 1977, Professor Roland Barthes released his book ‘A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments’.
      Over 200 pages long, this text is dense, lengthy, and at times incoherent.
      Therefore, an article deconstructing and analysing this text would be an insightful read.
      What is Barthes trying to say? How does he say it? Are his ideas accepted and approved of, or disagreed with?

      One point he seems to be making is that our own experiences of love are dictated to us by the discourse of love within our culture. It is through this language that our expectations of what love should feel like are formed.

      Therefore, after breaking down Barthes’ text and some key fragments/ideas, this article could look into examples of popular culture and how they have influenced modern ideas of love. The romance genre in film, tv, literature, and even music are prevalent. Everything from Shakespeare’s plays to Romantic Comedies to Disney movies.

      If, indeed, you deduce other claims worth discussing in the text, find popular or contemporary examples to suit that also!

        Taken by aprosaicpintofpisces (PM) 2 months ago.

        The Portrayal of Small Towns in TV Shows

        I’ve been watching That 70s Show recently and noticed that their small town has a bad reputation, the after-graduation goal is to get out of the dead-end town. ‘Being someone’ means moving away from home. Then, I got to thinking, there are elements of this thinking in many other shows I have seen, Daria, Gilmore Girls, Community.
        Is this prolific enough in TV shows to be considered a trend? Is there reason for this? Does the same ‘I need to get away from here’ thinking occur in characters born and raised in the city? Is this specific to American TV shows, or other countries’ shows too? Perhaps an article on this topic could offer a suggestion as to why the city is so romanticised?

        • "I'm gettin' out of this hick town!" Yes, I think this is an interesting phenomenon in film and TV. That 70s Show is a good example because I think it was much more prevalent to make those statements back in the 70s, 80s etc. The forces of urbanization meant that better jobs could be found in cities, but also there were lots more cultural waves going on that were focused in cities. If you wanted to be a punk or a hippie or anti-establishment like Hyde for example, that was something that you couldn't find many like-minded people for in small town America. Many high school and college movies of the last few decades had a dynamic that set the "interesting, alternative" type main characters against the jocks and cheerleaders of small town life. (Juxtapose this with something like Riverdale which only slightly criticizes jocks and cheerleaders, and ultimately upholds them as kind of the social rulers of high school). I think the 21st century has maybe seen a re-romanticization of small town life, in contrast to urban life which isn't idolized so much anymore. – Claire 4 months ago
        • Another tidbit: I think, to make this a more recognizable-sounding topic, you should frame it as something like "Leaving Small Towns as a Coming-of-age Milestone for American Youth." – Claire 4 months ago
        • Not sure how far back you want to go with this, but you could also do some research on the Industrial revolution as well since it caused one of the first big population shifts in history. It might be worth looking into as a short paragraph before you get into everything else as it frames the mindset a little. – MaeveM 4 months ago
        • I feel like some of this has to do with the cultural biases of the content creators, who usually live in big cities like Los Angeles and NYC. People in those kinds of places tend to look down on small towns and consider them "boring" or "old-fashioned" and that comes through in the stories. – Debs 4 months ago
        • I feel like everyone has the American Dream to some extent, and probably especially those in small towns. Boredom, bad entertainment, dull nightlife... of course they'd want to escape and live it up somewhere culturally (and literally!!) rich. Cities are centers of progress and wealth. Maybe it's easier for people in small towns to believe that that wealth is accessible/available to everyone. – Sophia Tone 4 months ago
        • Nice topic. You might also want to check out The Middle, where living in the fictional town of Orson, IN is central to how and why the Heck family does a lot of what they do. Narrator and mom Frankie is very up front about the fact that Orson is *not* romanticized, that her family is just doing the best they can.Additionally, you might check out some older sitcoms like Family Matters and Full House. They take place in cities--Chicago and San Francisco, respectively--but there is almost no sense of urban life except in select episodes or arcs, such as FM father Carl Winslow being a cop. The "small town," cheesy feel is very much still existent. Just a thought. – Stephanie M. 4 months ago
        • I'm not familiar with a lot of non-US tv shows, but here's one example: The Netflix series Dark is set in the small fictional German town of Winden, and most of the younger people seem to really hate it and want nothing more than to get away. – JamesBKelley 6 days ago

        Behind The Scenes Content: What are we really getting out of it?

        It’s no secret that film viewers often cherish the extra content attached to films. Deleted scenes, gag reels, director/actor commentary, behind the scenes footage generally.
        But, why is that? An article could look at various aspects of this.
        Do passionate fans just crave as much content as possible? Do film-buffs take a genuine interest in how their favourite media comes to be? Is it a learning tool? Is it a curiosity – perhaps, a curiosity to see how the people behind the serious-faced characters interact with one another? If a film is made to entertain by creating a (usually) fictitious world or story-line, then why are viewers so obsessed with this ‘real-world’ aspect of them?
        On the other side – what do film makers gain from this? Why do they include the extra content they choose to?
        This desire for extra content is evident in films like Shrek 2 where they animated an entire American Idol spoof with the characters. Or, the creators of Monsters Inc. animating various blooper scenes. Perhaps examples like this could be discussed.
        This could also work for TV shows, if so preferred.

        • Very interesting topic! Perhaps the article could also tackle, or maybe just conclude on or quickly mentioned as it is a different angle, the possible future of such content? Indeed, at least for now and as far as I know, such features are only available on physical supports (DVDs, Blu-rays…). Could behind-the-scene contents, therefore, be used and put forwards to help the film physical supports market? Or, on the contrary, would such content be absorbed (or erased?) by successful VOD platforms, such as Netflix? – Gavroche 2 months ago

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        Latest Comments

        Samantha Leersen

        I feel as though storytelling appears to be one of those skills that just happen. The belief is that there’s no reason or rhyme, a story is just good because it is.
        So it’s really fascinating to look at it as a process of strict rules, as you have here. I think, perhaps, if I were to think about some of my favourite stories, they might just align with what you’ve expressed here.
        Interesting read 🙂

        The Pillars of Outstanding Stories
        Samantha Leersen

        I’m not entirely sure how true this is, but I believe Allegiant was originally supposed to be broken into two films (which never made sense to me, there was not enough in that book to make two films). But I’m glad that franchise, at least, opted for one film.

        Multi-Part Films in Hollywood: When Profits Matter More than Storytelling
        Samantha Leersen

        I enjoy reading things like this, topics I have no knowledge of. This is a great article 🙂

        Indian Food: A Multicultural Enterprise
        Samantha Leersen

        I can honestly say I have never considered any of your analysis when reading these books (granted I was a lot younger). Kind of tempted to reread them to look for elements of what you have found. Really, really interesting article!

        Divergent: Christian Apocalypticism in Hollywood
        Samantha Leersen

        I somehow had never heard of this idea, the ‘Byronic Hero’ until this year. I really appreciated your explanation!

        Bad Boys, Bad Boys: The Persistent Presence of the Byronic Hero
        Samantha Leersen

        I first read Hamlet in secondary college, probably the same age most people become familiar with Shakespeare. I feel like that’s just not old or mature enough to understand the complexities of his writing. A great analysis!

        Hamlet: Examining Love and Destruction
        Samantha Leersen

        In my experience, writing can’t be taught by someone else. It has to be learnt by yourself. Practising until you work out what works.

        Can you Teach Someone how to Become a Writer?
        Samantha Leersen

        The first time I read Jane Eyre, I remember being so shocked when I read about Bertha. Truly did not see it coming, so Charlotte Bronte really did that well.

        Plot Twists in Fiction: Making a Story Standout