Topics

Title

Filter Topics by Category

9

Out of the Ashes: Building New Societies in The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead comic series shows various groups of people trying to form new societies in order to survive the zombie apocalypse. Examine the different types of societies in the show (Woodbury, The Kingdom, The Hill, Terminus, etc.) and how they form and sustain their societies as well as the flaws that inevitably lead to their downfall at the hands of the Walkers.

  • I'm not familiar with this show (not a fan of zombies, vampires, and etc.) but this sounds like a fun and informative topic. It might be worth contrasting the strengths of each society with their weaknesses (e.g., is one society weak in an area where another is strong). – Stephanie M. 2 years ago
    4
  • This is a very engaging idea for a topic. As a fan of the show myself, Ive noticed the recurring trend of moving from location to location in a trial and error effort to rebuild civilisation. I think the different societies depicted exhibits the different humanitarian approaches to the apocalypse itself and a discussion of this would be extremely interesting. Great Idea! – AdilYoosuf 2 years ago
    4
  • This topic would be interesting to look at given the last major arc in the series (with the new Governor, and the idea of poeple being placed in their pre-apocalyptic roles), and that the series is now over and it finished with somewhat retrospective ideas from Carl. More to work with. – msnfrd 2 months ago
    1
3

When the protagonist is the most interesting character

It’s almost a cliche at this point that the central characters in any story are rarely the most interesting ones. More often than not they tend to be relatively bland, and the story grows out of their interactions with a cast of more interesting side characters. However, every so often a protagonist will end up being the most interesting character in their story. For instance, in Osamu Tezuka’s "Buddha" manga, the Buddha is actually one of the more well-rounded and relatable characters, even given that the legends about him tend to paint him as an almost perfect, untouchable being. What are some other examples of this phenomenon, where the main protagonist really is the most interesting, or one of the most interesting, characters? What is it about them that makes them so interesting?

  • I believe this statement can be completely true. Sometimes the evil character is more relatable and evokes more emotion than the Plain Jane good person. For example, in The Vampire Diaries, everyone loves Damon. He's mysterious, alluring, and sexy. More than that, people want to believe in him. They want to see the whole "bad-boy turned good" phenomenon play out. Like in Maleficent or Wicked, entirely new stories are revealed. It shifts from delivering a story about monsters to explaining how they became this villain everyone believes them to be. I think that villains are important in literature and film, because sometimes they teach us more than the heroes. People can't relate to a perfect character. They can easily relate to the villain, because they see their flaws scattered in themselves. – nicolemadison 2 months ago
    0
  • what if we explored the possibility of "supporting characters" being the REAL "protagonists"? Or the possibility of multiple protagonists? – Dena Elerian 4 days ago
    0
4

In Defense of the Absurd in comedy

The early forms of comedy in mass entertainment (vaudeville, the Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges) were unapologetically absurd. They embraced silliness. We see that tradition in more modern British comedy (Monty Python, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore). And yet, American comedy seems to suffer from an unwillingness to be silly, as if silliness is somehow beneath us. There are notable exceptions of course (The Simpsons, Steve Martin’s early standup), but, by and large, we seem to be mired in a bog of socially relevant comedy, or rigidly responsible satire. Where’s the silliness? Is comedy allowed to be funny for funny’s sake? And here, I’m referring mostly to film and sitcoms, not to stand up comedians who are as varied in their style as they have always been.

  • This would be a good topic for one to explore the evolution of comedy in the US; how we went from vaudeville & Marx to more contemporary comedic styles. From there, one could argue whether the decline of absurd comedy is just a sign of the times, or a result of something else. – majorlariviere 6 days ago
    0
  • I would be interested to discover if the rise of the United States and the decline of the British Empire as respective world powers had anything to do with a more collective trend toward silliness in comedy. Perhaps it’s a potential thesis, mere speculation or something else. – J.D. Jankowski 22 hours ago
    0
1

Identity and Loss: Beloved

Explore the nature of personal identity in Toni Morrison’s novel “Beloved.” This could include the nature of the character Beloved, notably in her relationships with other characters (most importantly Sethe) and her opaque origins. Additionally, the book can be examined for commentary on the dehumanizing effect of American slavery on African American identity, and how this effect lingers, thus making “Beloved” resonant.

    2

    The Masked Hero

    With The Mandalorian being so successful, what other examples of a protagonist concealing their identity have really struck a chord with audiences? Obviously, an intriguing trait in terms of mystery, are there any other reasons why this has been successful in The Mandalorian? Moreover, what’s the purpose of using a masked hero? What changes when the main protagonist is unmasked? Is there a downside?

    • I think you may want to touch on what it is about a masked hero that makes audiences intrigued. What is necessary for them to have since one cannot see who (or what) they are. Great topic idea! – majorlariviere 1 week ago
      1
    • Off the top of my head the only character I can think of right now is 'V' from 'V for Vendetta' (2005). It's interesting how that Guy Fawkes mask even struck a chord with those who haven't seen the film or read the original graphic novel. – Amyus 5 days ago
      0
    1

    Scandal: The White Hat symbolism

    Throughout the entire series the term white hat is tossed back and forth but what does it mean. I think its about being the good guy. Whoever where the white hat is considered the one who is winning and doing the right thing. In this show we easily see where the lines between good and evil are crossed so is wearing the white hat even worth it. I think if someone could track the metaphor they’d be able to understand the relationship between Olivia and Joshua a lot better.

      9

      The Silent Protagonist

      Analyse what makes a silent protagonist work and what doesn’t: when does a game benefit from having one? When does it not? What are some instances where a silent protagonist could have been better as a speaking one, or vice versa?

      Or maybe, what warrants the use of a silent protagonist, particularly in plot-heavy, character-driven series’ like Persona? How are they characterised, if at all, and why?

      • Could look at Link in The Legend of Zelda as well! – Sean Gadus 3 months ago
        1
      • There's also the case where silent protagonists stop becoming silent in the series, such as Jak in Jak and Daxter. – Emily Deibler 3 months ago
        1
      • One could consider the role of the silent protagonist’s “silence” as it pertains to immersive purposes. Some silent characters are not only mute—they have no explicit Idiosyncrasies or traits to establish themselves as full characters. Others, like Link in “The Wind Waker,” have more a sense of character through facial expressions and other complex reactive behaviors to story and gameplay elements. Exploring this dichotomy can prove useful in answering the question of the benefit of a silent protagonist. – James Polk 1 week ago
        0
      6

      Why is Utopian literature less popular than Dystopian literature?

      An article exploring the development and effect of significant pieces of Utopian literature and why Dystopian literature is more popular and widespread than its positive cousin. Is there something in our modern day psychological make-up that makes us define the ideal world negatively rather than positively?

      • Good topic! One thing to touch on is the overlap between the Utopian & dystopian; most dystopias are the final evolution of a preconceived utopia that has invariably warped over time. – majorlariviere 2 weeks ago
        1
      • I think we are, socially and individually, more curious in dystopia; more interested in the 'bad' re imaginings of the world rather than the 'good.' With the peak of technology, we are constantly wondering 'what could go wrong?". I remember one of the screenwriters for Black Mirror was saying that the inspiration for one of the episodes was the assemblage of the 'robot dog' and 'what if that was chasing me?' I think that dystopia serves as a kind of a reminder, to us, especially in a world where we have become more lazy than ever, that not everything that is beneficial is 'good.' – SpookyDuet 5 days ago
        0
      2

      The Portrayal of Demons in Anime

      Demons are quite common in anime, whether it’s the sexy Sebastian Michaelis from Black Butler or the lovable Inuyasha from the anime of the same name. In fact, demons are more common in mainstream anime than angels. And when they do interact, it’s usually the demons that come out as the good guy. Why is that the case? What appeal do demons have? What are some other portrayals of demons?

      Note: You can focus on just humanoid demons, like Sebastian and Rin Okumura from Blue Exorcist, or you can expand it to include Inuyasha and creatures like Kurama from the Naruto series. For an additional challenge, you can also include interactions between angels and demons, like Sebastian and Ash/Angela, and compare the characters.

        4

        Is the Disney-fication of popular culture *really* a bad thing?

        Particularly following their purchase of 20th Century Fox and their gallery of successful IP, Disney now stand to own the primary market share of global box office. Many critics are decrying the ‘Disney-fication’ of culture as the death of diversity, a crushing blow to independent production, and the continuation of a soulless future of endless sequels and franchises.

        Is this, however, a fair approximation? Are Disney simply representing what audiences have sought since the birth of the blockbuster in the mid-1970’s and the arrival of the high concept in the 1980’s? Is the jewel in their crown, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, not simply the ultimate expression of audiences’ desire for cinema to be the ultimate escapist entertainment? Are Disney destroying originality or simply reconfiguring the way we engage with culture and media?

        • This is a great topic. I run into many people who think that Disney is trying to monopolize the market, but I don't think it's an evil agenda. I think Disney, like all corporations and businesses, are trying to do their job and make money. If purchasing 20th Century Fox will help them do that then that's what they're going to do. Disney has been creating entertainment for years and they are in some ways the standard for entertainment. Finally, if you really think Disney is destroying film and is a terrible corporation, stop seeing their movies. If you really believe that's a problem, you are contributing to that problem by watching their movies and buying their merchandise. – OliviaS 5 months ago
          0
        3

        Why Is Anime So Popular in the West?

        What do Western audiences (Canada and Europe as well as America) find so appealing in anime? Analyze and compare the more popular/recent series and see what conclusions you make with them.
        An additional challenge would be to compare the anime are more popular in the West with the anime that are more popular in Japan. Or, if that is too difficult, then compare the genres that are more popular/well-known in the East and West.
        e.g. Is My Hero Academia as big in Japan as it is in America? What about Death Note?
        You can also research less mainstream anime that is big in either Japan or the West.

        • I generally agree with the comments made by M.L.Flood, but please be a little less ameri-centric. The 'West' consists of more countries than just America and Canada. – Amyus 2 months ago
          1
        • I like the topic so much and I think that approaching why certain anime are more popular in the West and why others are more popular in Japan would be interesting as well. There may be cultural and social reasons for it. Other than that, great topic! – MC07 2 months ago
          0
        1

        Is Postmodern Literature Dead, or Simply Out of Fashion?

        Many considered the encyclopaedic novels of the late ’90s and early 2000’s such as Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves and most prominently, David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest to be, variously, postmodernist, or post-postmodernist – ‘New Sincerity," being a label applied to the latter. In the case of DFW, the abandonment of irony in place of sincerity was defined as the source of the departure from the genre or movement, while Danielewski’s act of essentially drawing out postmodern literature and all its tropes and threads to their logical conclusions was, essentially, concluding it there and then.
        I read House of Leaves in my first year of university, and some years later, it is now the subject of my doctoral thesis. As I studied my way through the university, and particularly in grad school, I found very few scholars wanting to discuss postmodern literature or philosophy. In classes I took on Modernism, postmodernism was included in a one-lecture session where it was deemed to have been subsumed into "New Modernist Studies," as essentially, a subgenre of modernism rather than (depending on who was writing it) an elaboration on or even ar reaction to Modernism.
        While there were stragglers throughout the ’80s, ’90s and naughties, many consider the heyday of postmodern literature to have taken place during the late sixties and throughout the seventies. Even Raymond Federman who wrote extensively on the self-reflexivity that defined these novels concluded during the ’90s that this era of self-reflexive experimentation was essentially, over. It is worth noting that while these essays were collected, many were written at the time before the term "postmodernism," had even been applied to this kind of literature (a term that was first applied to architecture before carrying over into the other arts; many of the seminal writers like Vonnegut and DeLillo were often called black humorists in their present tense). While Federman perhaps made that call prematurely in 1992, given the popularity of the first two novels I mentioned for this topic, the fact remains that whether or not the movement is "dead," it has fallen terribly out of favour. A professor confessed to me once, that it was very trendy at a time before I’d been born, or perhaps even when I was very young and as a grad student in their 20’s in the ’10s I had missed out Is postmodernism dead because it’s out of fashion? Or will it return, much like the mullet?

        • A good topic, but it may be better to try to frame the topic in third-person because too much personal experience when discussing the topic may feel more like opinion than media analysis. – Emily Deibler 3 months ago
          1
        • Oh certainly Emily; but I'm not the one who's going to write it.Here's a couple of contextual articles for whoever does; I shouldn't have perhaps leaned on an anecdotal example when essentially, my professor was just echoing what a lot of people have now been saying for decades. Here's a couple of recent takes:https://sydneyreviewofbooks.com/theoretical-cool/https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/postmodernism-is-dead-va-exhibition-age-of-authenticismhttps://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/public/postmodernism-dead-comes-next/https://philosophynow.org/issues/58/The_Death_of_Postmodernism_And_Beyond (personally not a fan of this one; feel like it misses the point but it's valid to consider)https://areomagazine.com/2018/01/08/postmodernism-isnt-playing-around-anymore/https://areomagazine.com/2018/02/07/no-postmodernism-is-not-dead-and-other-misconceptions/ – benjamindmuir 3 months ago
          1
        • Ooooo boy, this is one tasty topic (personally). I mean this might come down to how post modernism is defined (good luck to whomever takes that on!) and, also, how you measure the deadness-to-passéness of post modernism; if it's by reader popularity then probably deadish, if it's by author output then it's arguably very alive (Zadie Smith, Jim Gauer, George Saunders, Haruki Murakami, Marlon James...). My main thought is: Is an either/or framing of this piece the best approach to reflect a topic that might benefit from a more exploratory flavour?. There are SO many options with this piece. I approve. – JM 3 months ago
          1
        • Ah! Thank you for the article lists. I think that'll be very helpful for whoever writes this. :) It's a good topic. – Emily Deibler 3 months ago
          1
        • I think the postmodern novel will eventually be "in fashion" again. It's strange to think of something as timeless as literature being subjected to trends but there is an ebb and flow. It would be interesting to consider the impact of how we've become accustomed to absorbing information in soundbites--tweets, Instagram and Snapchat stories in relation to lengthier post-modern texts from David Foster Wallace and Haruki Marukami. – Loie89 2 weeks ago
          1
        3

        The value of prequel development

        Prequels are often seen as cash-ins that don’t add much to the original text. For example, even Solo’s fans tend to admit that the movie wasn’t particularly necessary: it does not add much to the themes, ideas, or lore of Star Wars. But other prequels have offered deeper insight (or counterpoints) to the original text. For instance, Rise of the Planet of the Apes was used to deepen the apocalyptic themes of the main text.

        So: what makes a valuable prequel? If a prequel isn’t adding anything to the original, then should it be "re-skinned"?

        • I think there are a lot of really good and really important prequels especially in the superhero genre. X-Men is a really good example. Also I think its important to add spinoffs of tv shows that are meant to be prequels because I think you can see a strong difference in a film that is a prequel and a series that is a prequel. – tingittens 2 weeks ago
          1
        • "Re-skinning" a prequel is a waste of time and money, especially if we keep getting stuck in a rut (with some sequels I can mention). I think a good prequel gives enough information without being stuffed while staying faithful to the original. Peter Jackson's The Hobbit series would be a good example of how that did NOT happen (at least in the second film). – OkaNaimo0819 2 weeks ago
          0
        3

        Power Dynamics in Fantasy Games

        I think it’s worth examining the power dynamics in fantasy games and what makes each particular game feel satisfying. Games like "Monster Hunter" and "Skyrim" both offer the player a degree of power over the world, but the difference lies in degree. "Monster Hunter" empowers the player as an exceptional hunter, but only allows them to practice that power in particular ways. "Skyrim" allows players to kill people with only their words. Yet both these games prove to be immensely satisfying. My question is what common factors lie between them? How do each of these games (and others) feel satisfying despite the difference in how they allow their players to act in their worlds?

        • This is an interesting topic definitely, though a bit too broadly conceived right now -- the games are quite opposite genres, for example. A tighter article could, for example, compare the thematic import of player agency in an open-world game where players have lots of freedom (Skyrim) and players have comparatively little freedom (Monster World, as I understand it). In other words, but fixing the genre (open world) and fictional context (fantasy), a comparison can be made more clearly.Lovely idea. – Derek 3 weeks ago
          1
        3

        How the Past and Present Are Closer Than We Think

        Analyze how gender issues in the writings of the past and present are similar to how things are now. For example, look at The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, and explore something like The Golden Girls, or a play like A Raisin In The Sun. What do they say about womanhood? How have things changed? How is there still relevance from the past? What does this say about women’s role in society today?

        8

        Motion Capture and the "Uncanny Valley"

        Since its technological and artistic breakthrough in the character of Gollum from Lord of the Rings, filmmakers have experimented with the possibilities and limits of the technology, with varying success. From single characters (like King Kong) to whole races and worlds (like Avatar and several Robert Zemekis films), motion capture elicits anything from wonder in the face of its breathtaking realism, to criticisms that overuse of the technology dumps the audience smack dab in the center of "Uncanny Valley." Why does motion capture draw from critics and audiences such polarizing responses? What films use the technology wisely, and which overuse it to the extent of alienating its audience? Look at both the original instances, like Gollum, and more recent instances, such as Alita in Alita: Battle Angel, and analyse how the different instances work and how they avoid or encapsulate "Uncanny Valley" in their films and characters.

        • I wonder if this is an issue with veracity, a sense of truth in what we're seeing. One of the most unerring examples I remember was 2001's Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, a film with such weirdly photo-realistic animation it made little sense that real actors were not simply used. It's different with physical creatures or aliens, or say Caesar in the Planet of the Apes trilogy, as they can benefit from strong motion capture, but humans? I suspect it feels like a blurred line. – A J. Black 6 months ago
          2
        • Interesting topic. It would be topical to tie it into the upcoming "Cats" adaptation. I suggest you check out Patrick Willems' recent YouTube video essay on the topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1nQoWnFBSw&t=1264s – Matt Hampton 5 months ago
          1
        • I think it's important to define a "wise" use of technology. How much is too much? Is it possible to draw a line applicable to all films or do we have to take it on a case by case basis? We rush to embrace technology for all of its spectacle and newness, but do how often do filmmakers ask themselves, "Is this really necessary?" I'm of the opinion (for what it's worth) that technology should be used as sparingly as possible. As an audience member, too much technology overwhelms me and creates an emotional distance from the narrative. – fspinelli 2 weeks ago
          0
        4

        How can RTS games serve to be educative?

        Analyze the evolution of popular RTS games such as the Age of Empire series alongside others like Medieval and how they serve as education through entertainment by using historical battles and events as the crux of their gameplay material. Also analyze how well-sourced the relevant histories being represented in these genres of RTS games are.

        • A nice idea for a topic, there could be further exploration and balance involved by looking at intentionally educational games (good or bad), games that have the potential to be educative but aren't yet and those that are breaking new ground and providing engaging experiences that are both fun and educational. – CAntonyBaker 1 month ago
          0
        • That works well too. I guess RTS games may make the article limited in its discussion. Speaking of intentional education games one could also tackle the Learn Japanese visual novel games which are well known to get you familiar with japanese but not necessaroly all out educational tools. – ajaymanuel 1 month ago
          0
        1

        How Andre Aciman's "Find Me" - "Call Me By Your Name" sequel compares to its prequel

        Call Me By Your Name – the book version, ends with Elio and Oliver’s separation, but their longings for each other last for what seems like an eternity. Find Me – the sequel, picks up the storyline a few years later, and, spoiler alert, slowly leads the two star-crossed lovers back together in the end. However, the perspective has changed as the Find Me is in the POV of Elio’s father, now divorced, and his journey of finding new love with a woman much younger than himself. If Call Me, under Elio’s POV, was so successful critically and commercially, why did the author switch to his father’s, whose outlook on life may not be on who was responsible for some of the most soul-touching, sentimental and inspiring dialogues in the prequel

          3

          The increasing popularity of Royal Fantasy Fiction

          Analyse the texts that surround the current royal fantasy trend within young adult books. Worth noting Sarah J. Maas’s contribution and how texts such as Red Queen and others compare. Are there any archetypes concerning the female hero within?

          • Could also mention Amy Tintera's series. – Andi 8 months ago
            1
          • I have a game app on my phone that's basically reading different books, and a lot of them are royal fantasy fiction. I never thought about it before now, but that's a really cool observation! – csquie00 8 months ago
            0
          4

          What does Mob Psycho 100 say about individuals?

          Mob Psycho 100 is a series from the creators of One Punch Man. Focusing on the title character of Shigeo "Mob" Kageyama. Mob is a esper, he learns as a child that his powers are link to his emotional state. As a result he is emotionally muted and appears with a blank expression. He has no friends (in the beginning) and is social awkward. In contrast, the character of Reigen is the opposite of Mob.

          Reigen is the boss and master of Mob. He is a con man, whom, uses the power of his words to manipulate his clients into believing he is helping them with their problems. A common theme that is brought up in the series is the idea that Mob’s psychic powers are one aspect of him and he is no better than other’s. Reigen believes that his powers are really no different from someone who can sing, dance or play a sport. Basically, everyone has something special about them.

          Explore the theme from the series, that we all are special in different ways. Question what the difference between being ordinary and extraordinary is. Explore how the various characters, specifically, Mob and Reigen display the theme.

          • Yes, so much yes. The idea of "being the protagonist of your own story" is a great theme to delve into, as well as the emotional lessons of the story. I would also touch on additional characters and how they negotiate having powers, i.e. being special, with their level of emotional maturity. Ristu, Serizawa, Sho, Hanazawa, and Toichiro all cope with being "special" in healthy and unhealthy ways. I'd be very excited to read a piece about this. – Eden 6 months ago
            3