Topics: J.D. Jankowski


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The Desire for Fame in Dante Allegheri’s “Il Inferno”

In Dante’s fictional journey to hell with Virgil the poet as his guide, the vast majority of the damned that are encountered want Dante to tell of them back in the temporal world. Examples of this are Dido, Queen of Carthage (ironically written about in real life by Dante’s guide) and Ciacco the Glutton (blatantly so considering that “ciacco” is the Italian word for pig, and he behaves and looks as such).

Analyze why those in Inferno want to be remembered. Is it because this is the only joy that they have left in their horrid states (to be remembered and with the possibility of being remembered fondly)? Indeed those that do not want to be told of (mainly in the 9th Circle) did things so horrid that no fondness would be drawn in being remembered. Or is it for a more selfish reason? Does this express subtlety that pride both goes before the fall and is at the root of all evil and feeds all other evils?


    The Sins of Œdipus

    Upon Œdipus’s self-imposed exile from Thebes for being the reason the city held a divine curse (on account of his marriage—unwittingly—to his mother Iocaste), his sons fight a civil war (Œdipus at Collonus) to determine who will rule Thebes. The result is that both sons kill each other by each other’s hand in battle. Creon becomes king (Antigone) and refuses burial of the rebellious son, and orders that anyone who would bury him to be executed. Antigone, the sister of the brothers, assisted by their sister Ismene, buries the body. Creon initially orders her imprisonment and execution. He vacillated at this decision but too late as Antigone and Ismene committed suicide to highlight Creon’s unjust actions.

    Analyze how much of this is the result of Œdipus and why this is the result. Is it the result of Œdipus’ union with his mother? Or is it his curiosity (See Œdipus Rex)? In these plays, do the children suffer from the father’s sins, or are they the authors of their own tragedy? Bear in mind that the mindset of Ancient Greece held that any wrongdoing any person committed was under strict liability (intent does not matter; the act itself is good or evil). What kind of critique, if any, does the author Sophocles (a citizen of the Athenian Republic, which held the heart of Hellenic democracy) make of the rule of kings. Could this be a critique on the rule of the Spartans (Athens’s historic rival; a monarchy)?


      The Role of Hubris in Œdipus Rex

      Analyze the role of hubris within Œdipus in Œdipus Rex. Specifically, look at his confidence that he can solve problems of the curse of the gods in Thebes as a result of a mother marrying her son, how he believes that he is the solution to the problem instead of the problem itself. His edict that the cause of the curse is to be banished causes him to investigate affairs of the Thebian State, which culminates in discovering that Œdipus himself was the source of the curse in marrying his mother. How does hubris operate in these broad parameters? What role does truth and curiosity play? Are these things good?


        The Central Role of Inspector Javert in Les Miserables

        Les Miserables passim has themes of reform, personal development and redemption. These premises are contained within the character of the protagonist Jean Valjean, particularly after his theft and forgiveness therein of his theft of a silver candlestick holder.

        These themes however are much more prevalent in Inspector Javert. He has an ultimate moral quandary expressed in his pursuit of the criminal Valjean. He held a virulent belief that the law was the correct course of action. His observations of Valjean’s deportment clashed with his fundamental beliefs on the law. This creates the quandary. Since he could not resolve the quandary, he committed suicide toward the denouement.

        Analyze Javert’s thoughts, actions, et alii in his pursuit of Valjean and how it advances the themes and aims of the literature, and ultimately its plot and thesis. An example of a key moment would be where Javert interacts with Valjean as mayor, when Valjean has another identity.

        • I have long been fascinated with all the characters of Les Miserables, especially the sense that not only is the protagonist a criminal while the antagonist is a police officer, but all the main characters are "bad guys" except Cosette, the one shining example of innocence that must be protected from corruption. Marius, Enjolras, the Schoolboy Revolutionaries, and even Fontine (sp?) might all be worth analysis, perhaps in comparison and contrast with Javert. Also: fans of RPGs may be familiar with the Lawful Neutral Alignment, of which Javert is the classic example. That may be useful for this article, too. – noahspud 2 years ago

        Stories of Creation

        Analyze and compare the various stories of creation through various parts of the world. The stories examined will include Genesis, Aztec Mythology , Norse Mythology, Greek Mythology, Eastern Mythology, African Mythologies, et cetera. Specifically how are they similar? How do they differ? What sort of message do they impart?

        • This is a very interesting topic that would involve a lot of scholarly research! This could be an extensive article so perhaps picking three to four mythologies would allow the most room for detailed research and reflection. – Scharina 3 years ago
        • I agree that is might be good to narrow it a bit. For example, comparing the flood in Gilgamesh to Moses with the Great Flood of Gun-Yu. Instead of contrasting several of these religions, could one perhaps write it on the religious commonalities? – ruegrey 3 years ago
        • This does need narrowing, but I don't blame you for wanting to explore every possible religion and mythology. Perhaps exploring in subgroups might help? An example might be monotheistic creation stories vs. polytheistic, or Middle Eastern (Torah, Bible, Koran) vs. European or African? – Stephanie M. 3 years ago
        • Perhaps the focus could be created in one of the following ways: 1) focus on historical influence, e.g. how the Babylonian creation story influenced at least one of the Biblical creation stories; 2) thematic focus with a Nietzschean twist, e.g. how is creation achieved in creation stories, and for what purposes? Who benefits from the creative acts and who gets excluded? Whose agendas are asserted? "Cut bono?" Who benefits? 3) focus on narrative purpose: why do we tell creation stories? W hat purposes do we aim at in telling them when there are so many other kinds of stories we can tell? At what point in our story-telling cycles (sacred or not) do we reach for stories of creation? For instance, the Jewish people may have finalized their version of the creation story when they found their story in competition with the Babylonian version, and the Jewish people wanted to show their god was superior by showing their god cared more. 4) focus on relationship between creation "entities" and representatives of fate. I'm sure this will be a fun topic to delve into. – gitte 2 years ago

        The Relationship Between Odysseus and Telemakos

        Analyze the relationship between Odysseus and Telemakos of “The Odyssey”. Specifically, look at the characters at their start (Telemakos being more passive, Odysseus being more hot-blooded). How do they develop? How do they influence each other in their development? How is this relevant in driving out 108 suitors from Odysseus’ home, all vying for Penelope’s hand? How does Athena influence both of them?

        • Cool topic. I missed out on The Odyssey in school because I was in honors/advanced English, and they for some reason thought we "nerds" (hardy har) didn't need to read it. So, I'll look forward to this one. – Stephanie M. 3 years ago
        • There was recently another essay that previously touched on parts of this topic. – Sean Gadus 3 years ago

        The Influence of Mexican Art in the 1920s & 1930s

        Analyze the influence and impact of Mexican artwork in the 1920s and 1930s. Specifically, analyze the political messaging the art, the new indigenous themes and influences, the artists themselves (Kahlo and Rivera come to mind) and their influence on the greater art world and their contemporary artists (Picasso et al.).

        • This is an interesting topic, when analysing the political message in art we can look at the Mexican peoples uprising against the oppressive dictator Porfirio Díaz Mori. Artists (like Diego Rivera) and their involvement with the muralist movement and the ‘masses’ was very influential too. Your onto a good thing. – tahliawhitfield 3 years ago

        The Decline of the Play in Poetic Form

        The play in poetic form was popularized by Shakespeare, with works such as "Twelfth Night", "Hamlet", "Othello", et cetera. The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries had a number of playwrights who wrote their plays in poetic form (Aside from Shakespeare, Moliere, and Racine, come to mine). However, only one such play was written in the Twentieth Century (T.S. Eliot’s "Murder in the Cathedral", and in the 1930s). Is there an explanation for such a decline in such authorship, and if so, what is it? Some factors that I would consider would be court culture (Versailles is an example), court funding for such work to have patronage, how absolute the ruler is, et cetera. If there are other factors that you would note, I am all ears.

        • The Ancient Greeks made poetic drama and dramatic verse popular before Shakespeare. I believe he effectively stole a number of their plays to make his own. We should also note that prose never became much of a thing until a little past the middle of the last millennium. Before we leave the realm of literature for its external influences, I think it's worth thinking hard about how much poetry has been in decline overall. Not long ago I attended Simon Armitage's inaugural lecture as Professor of Poetry at Oxford; the whole thing was about how poetry was a struggling and even dying art form. The history of poetry itself should be a primary concern for this topic, and subsequent to that should be insights into how popular opinion of verse has shifted. Yeats's verse dramas should also definitely be considered, and the effects of the greats of drama in prose around the turn of the century - Ibsen, Shaw, for instance - ought also to be examined as influential. – JekoJeko 7 years ago

        The Mary Tyler Moore Show and the 1970s

        Analyse how the transformation of the United States during the 1970s affected the world of the Mary Tyler Moore Show. These changes can be cultural, such as Mary discovering that her male predecessor in her producer job made more money than she did, Lou’s divorce from his wife, and Lou’s one-night stand with Sue Ann. But these changes can also be economic, such as Phyllis making cutbacks in the household, and gaining employment (in addition to her housewife duties) due to inflation. These angles are examples of what can be used in an article.

        • One interesting angle to explore this topic with would be to look at the ideas of femininity and masculinity and how postmodern American politics pertaining to gender shaped these types of TV shows. Of course these policies impacted the show's content as well as Moore's own personal and professional life as a woman. – aferozan 7 years ago
        • This is a great topic; one that I would definitely be interested in writing perhaps myself. As Aferozan mentioned, it would definitely be advantageous to look at the ideas of femininity and masculinity. Originally, Mary Richards was supposed to be moving because of a divorce, but producers were afraid that it would appear that she was divorcing Dick Van Dyke (Rob Petrie) from The Dick Van Dyke Show; as such, they had Mary leaving town because of a boyfriend. That in itself is interesting when concerned with masculinity and femininity, and it's odd to think that people would not be able to differentiate Laura Petrie from Mary Richards. As The Mary Tyler Moore Show progressed, it definitely dealt with cultural issues of the time - Mary was a single woman who had boyfriends and stayed the night with them on occasion; the show dealt with equal pay for women, homosexuality, and addiction, to name a few. It was definitely snuggled appropriately with other groundbreaking series of the 1970's like "All in the Family", "Maude", "Good Times", etc. I would love to see this topic written about, and will keep my eye on it. If it isn't grabbed, I would love to take it. :) Great idea! – Douglas 7 years ago
        • A sad, ironic comment related to this topic is that while MTM's efforts way-back-when supported freedom for women, she succumbed to cosmetic surgery - which I believe are fueled by sexist expectations pressuring women (often by women) - and now looks awful. – Tigey 7 years ago

        "Aeneas and Dido" in the Context of "The Aeneid"

        An obvious difference between the epic poem "The Aeneid", and the opera "Aeneas and Dido" is that "The Aeneid" discusses how Aeneas created the foundations for Rome, whilst "Aeneas Dido", by Henry Purcell, only focuses on the aspects of that epic poem that focus on the relationship between Aeneas, and Dido. With that stated, compare the two works, and discuss the modifications that Purcell made to his opera. Specifically, given that the opera was written in the late 17th Century, discuss what role nationalism played in the plot if any (in light of the Roman, Trojan, and Carthaginian dynamics). What role does amourous emotion play in both the epic poem, and the opera (including, but not limited to Dido’s suicide)? The role of the gods in both should also be discussed.

        • Through out the entire of The Aeneid, Dido only appears in a fraction of the books so if anything I'd say that it's more of focusing on the lens of their relationship and the storytelling displaying their relationship. There is far much more to The Aeneid beside this such as his long and tasking journey and the battles he had to rigorously fight against both man and gods. – Kmo 7 years ago
        • Can you elaborate on the role of the gods more so?? – williamshackelford 6 years ago

        Teiresias: A Literary Study

        Teiresias is a character that appears in a number of Greek plays,and other Greek Literature (namely, the trilogy of the Oedipus Cycle). Teiresias seems to have the role of the wisest of all men in the literature of Ancient Greece, with his role in the plot to either expose it, or to play an otherwise pivotal role. How is this done specifically? From whence is his wisdom derived? Also, is his prevalence any indicator of an ideal, or an actual, venerated person?

        • One could look specifically at the different stories about how Teiresias became blind and the way that his physical blindness is compensated by spiritual vision. The figure of the blind seer becomes an archetype throughout Western literature, from John Milton to Gloucester in King Lear to Anchorman 2. Teiresias also reappears in modern literature, such as T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land. – JLaurenceCohen 7 years ago