Topics: Emily Deibler

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The Religious Politics of Hellsing Ultimate

Examine the religious politics of Hellsing Ultimate and how the conflict between the Protestants (The Hellsing Organization) and the Catholics (The Iscariot Organization) impacts the narrative and echoes past and current real life tensions. Possible real life issues to explore are the differences between Protestant and Catholic doctrines and the cultural influence of the Protestant Reformation, especially in England, given that the main setting of Hellsing is London.

  • This looks like it would be a great topic and help promote Japanese anime for those of us who are not familiar with it but would love to learn. – Munjeera 8 years ago

Race and Gender in Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow is a supernatural show with a black female lead (Abbie) and a white male lead (Ichabod). At times, especially in the second season, Abbie would be sidelined so the narrative could focus more on Ichabod’s love life, and now, as of the season three finale, Abbie has been killed for Ichabod’s sake.

Analyze the intersected representation of both race and gender in Sleepy Hollow. How is Abbie portrayed compared to her white male counterpart? How are other characters, such as Frank and Jenny, treated within the show’s narrative? When it comes to attempts to portray female characters other than Abbie, how are they presented? What is the effect of the characters of color who only appear when their culture is appropriated for story purposes? (Big Ash.)

  • Emily you were reading my mind. I appreciate the gender and all the color in Sleepy Hollow. I may take this one on, time permitting. – Venus Echos 8 years ago

Sims 4's Increased Gender Diversity

Recently, Sims 4 received an update that allows players more options to customize their Sims’ gender identities and personal expression. The update includes new choices where the player can decide 1) whether their character’s frame is masculine or feminine, 2) whether the character prefers clothes deemed masculine or feminine, 3) whether the character can become pregnant, and 4) whether the character can use the toilet standing up.

What impact will being more inclusive to gender identities beyond strict binary norms have for players, especially for players who are not cisgender? Are there any games that provide similar options or ways of pushing gender boundaries? Would it be beneficial for more games to adopt similar means of customization? Are there ways the Sims could go even further to explore gender identity?


    Mercy and Revenge in Dishonored

    Dishonored is a stealth game where the main character is an assassin/bodyguard named Corvo Attano. After Corvo is framed for killing the queen, he embarks on a mission to find and rescue her daughter. During this quest, the player can choose to kill several targets (High Chaos) or find other means to incapacitate and evade enemies (Low Chaos). These choices affect the difficulty level and ending of the game; High Chaos causes more guards, rat swarms, and plague victims (zombies) to appear in areas. As well as that, non-hostile NPCs tend to become more openly hostile or nihilistic.

    However, many of the merciful quest options include ruthless endings for Corvo’s targets, even when he is ultimately sparing their lives. The targets are often subjected to more suffering, though the result is a less imbalanced world. Analyze how Dishonored explores the concepts of mercy and revenge with its Chaos system. What do the environmental consequences and brutal depictions of mercy say about Dishonored’s world and the notion of vengeance?

    • It certainly is an interesting topic. I thought it was rather ironic that mercy actually led to more horrific fates for Corvo's enemies, and perhaps death might not the ultimate punishment. – idleric 8 years ago
    • I am not much into gaming but an article on this topic would certainly interest me in getting more involved because of the way the topic is being framed. The ideas or theme of mercy, revenge or in the above mentioned topic of gender identities being applied to this format may be a way to get people who are not necessarily into gaming, reading about it. – Munjeera 8 years ago

    Death in Medieval English Literature

    Explore how Medieval English literature deals with the theme of death. For real life context, the article could examine the devastating impact of the bubonic plague on not just England, but the whole of Europe. The quick spread and constant recurrences of the Black Death (as well as the high casualties) spurred contemplations about death, mortality, and religion. Examples of works that capture the anxiety of impending death are “Gawain and the Green Knight” (and most tales involving King Arthur’s court), “The York Play of the Crucifixion,” and the morality play “Everyman.”

    What do these stories say about how one should spend their time before death? Why is there an emphasis on urgency? In stories where death is personified, what is its true nature?

    • I'm not sure if you would like to investigate the apocalyptic fervor that arose in the wake of the plague in Europe, but if you are interested in investigating the history of how the plague contributed to anxieties evident in Medieval literature some good background information may be found in Norman Cohn's Pursuit of the Millenium. It may be a bit later than the period you're looking at but it is a good read. I also think that apocalyptic thought is behind the texts you cite, so some investigation in this area may prove helpful. Such a fascinating topic with so many possibilities. – margo 8 years ago
    • There are whole books dedicated to this topic. – T. Palomino 1 year ago

    Social Issues in Flannery O’Connor’s Short Stories

    Examine the social issues Flannery O’Connor explores in her short stories, as well as any potential historical contexts. O’Connor’s short stories primarily take place in the Deep South (O’Connor was Georgian) and create a Southern Gothic atmosphere. They also depict life during the Jim Crow era. Issues to explore could be religion (O’Connor was a staunch Catholic in the heavily Protestant South), Old versus New (post-Civil War, post-Reconstruction) South, race, and class.


    “A Good Man is Hard to Find”: This short story deals with the conflict between the Old South and the newer generation. The grandmother of the family reminisces on how the Old South was better than modern times and how children now have no appreciation or respect for their own state. Also, when the grandmother encounters a serial killer, she tries to argue about morality and religion to spare her own life.

    “The Artificial N*****”: This story, with a racial epithet in its title, deals with a poor white man (Mr. Head) and his grandson going to Atlanta, which contains more black people than the rural area. Class and race intersect as Mr. Head grooms his grandson to have a prejudice against black people, and the grandfather expresses resentment and insecurity at seeing a wealthy black man, as well as when he believes he will not be able to “teach” his grandson racism. The title refers to Jim Crow-era statues that depicted extremely grotesque and demeaning caricatures of black people, which also connects to minstrel shows (performances that depict white people in blackface).

    Other potential short stories and issues to explore are 1) xenophobia and the Holocaust in “The Displaced Person” and 2) disability in “The Life You Save May Be Your Own.” (O’Connor suffered from lupus, an autoimmune disease that made her body deteriorate until her death.)


      Impact of Setting in The Lives of the Mayfair Witches

      Anne Rice’s The Lives of the Mayfair Witches (1990-1994) is a Gothic horror trilogy that involves the history of a family of witches. Starting with The Witching Hour, the prose goes to great lengths to describe both antebellum and contemporary New Orleans. There are florid descriptions of the heat, the cracked streets, the rotting architecture, and the sprawling flora overtaking the Mayfair manor.

      Points of analysis: What impact does the vivid imagery have on establishing the atmosphere and the history of the location? How does this incredibly detailed, setting-focused technique connect to other works of Southern Gothic literature, such as Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird or Flannery O’Connor’s short stories? How do the elaborate descriptions affect the more fantastical or surreal aspects of Gothic horror?

      • Emily, I was just thinking about Anne Rice and how I would love to read an article here about her. I appreciate Southern Gothic as well. I can only add my anticipation to such an article!!! – Venus Echos 8 years ago

      White Leads and Race in Horror Films

      Movies such as The Grudge, The Forest, and The Other Side of the Door take place in countries such as Japan and India. However, rather than the protagonists being people of color, the lead roles tend to go to white American or English actresses such as Sarah Michelle Gellar, Natalie Dormer, and Sarah Wayne Callies. Indeed, white people do exist in these countries, but there is a dearth of leads of color in horror, even when a white person would likely be the setting’s racial minority.

      Analyze the potential racial implications. What are the possible reasons for casting predominantly white actors (for example, the often-cited “star power”), and does this suggest anything about the horror genre and its treatment of race? Are there any films that do not adhere to this trend? Going beyond white characters abroad as the premise, the article could possibly unpack horror movies such as Night of the Living Dead (black male protagonist killed by mistaken gunfire) and Candyman (black male antagonist killed by mob for an interracial relationship with a white woman).

      • I don't know much about horror. I scare easy. But this sounds like a good topic that I would be interested to learn about because I think sometimes filmmakers don't fully appreciate that diverse casts add so much more depth. I always like to refer to the original Star Trek when this topic comes up. At the height of the Cold War, just after the McCarthyism, Gene Roddenberry had Chekov on the bridge of the Enterprise. Back then, a radical role and casting decision. Yet here we are in 2016 with the end of communism. I think if you look at the really good horrors or any classic movies they transcend time to reach audiences of all generations. Maybe a good place to start would be the vampire legend. It did start in Transylvania, Romania. – Munjeera 8 years ago
      • Great points, Munjeera. If anyone who writes this looks at horror in general (not just film), they could look at anti-Eastern European and anti-Romani sentiments in vampire literature, which also connects with pseudo-science being used to try to legitimize racism. The reason Stoker emphasizes Dracula's distinctly Eastern European features is to connect them to degeneracy because back then it was thought that the shape of the skull/facial features determined intelligence and morality. This was in turn used to "explain" why other races were "inferior." – Emily Deibler 8 years ago
      • Yes, that was the school of thought, phrenology among other names, back then. It probably was influenced by intra-ethnic hierarchy among Europeans. Maybe whoever writes this article could look at Blade with Wesley Snipes. – Munjeera 8 years ago
      • You're right, and i just remembered that physiognomy is the name of the study of facial expressions that normally led to scientific racism toward people of color and xenophobia toward white people seen as "lesser" (Eastern Europeans; the Irish). The writer could possibly discuss horror as a genre that deals with fear of the unknown, and this may be connected to how people thought of as "Others" are treated in films. For a specific horror subgenre, there's also slasher film tropes such as the black character dying first or the typically virginal white woman being the sole survivor. – Emily Deibler 8 years ago

      Female Empowerment in Salt

      Phillip Noyce’s Salt is an action film starring Angelina Jolie as Evelyn Salt, a CIA officer accused of being a Russian spy. Examine both the positive depiction of a female action hero and possible ways the movie could have improved on its gender representation.

      Points to possibly explore: The main role was initially conceived as a man. The movie subverts the male gaze in certain sequences, such as the opening torture scene. While the main character is an active woman and her male spouse takes a passive role, the supporting cast is predominantly male with very few positive or meaningful interactions between two women. There is also a scene involving Salt going undercover as a man, which also challenges the heterosexual male cinematic gaze.

      • I think I read somewhere that Brad Pitt was offered the role but he recommended Angelina Jolie. – Munjeera 8 years ago

      Gender Dynamics in Spartacus

      Explore the gender dynamics in the Starz original series Spartacus. Possible themes to analyze:

      -"Equal opportunity" nudity: While there is a good deal of female nudity in Spartacus, there’s also a fair amount of male nudity. How are bodies used visually? Is there a difference depending on gender, or is it truly equal? The concept of the male gaze could be discussed here, as well as shows criticized for an imbalance skewed toward far more female nudity than male.

      -Power Dynamics, Agency, and Sexual Violence: In the show, there are stark power issues between the Roman elite and the enslaved (and later freed) individuals. Power is something that permeates this entire topic, even above when considering how the show treats nudity. Spartacus also contains sexual violence, and attention is given to female rape survivors such as Aurelia and Naevia, but it is also worth mentioning that, in the case of enslaved men such as Spartacus, Crixus, and Varro, they are often shown engaging in intercourse with Roman upperclass women (Lucretia and Ilithyia) or, in Varro’s case, enslaved women for the benefit of entertaining the Romans.

      In these circumstances, the enslaved men are stripped of their agency and have no means to refuse these interactions. Because their consent is never taken into account, these acts are rape. Analyzing the difference between how male and female rape survivors are treated, as well as how their abusers and the abuse is framed (such as male-on-female assault in contrast to female-on-male), could be beneficial.

      -Marriages and expectations: Spartacus also deals with societal gender expectations. As an example, Batiatus and Lucretia are happily married despite troubles conceiving (an issue Lucretia internalizes as her fault, possibly due to not being younger) and infidelity. Lucretia specifically calls out the double standard of women being shamed for their needs and adultery much more than men. Also, because she does conceive with a man who is not her husband, the blame toward her inability to get pregnant is misplaced, but still something that puts far more pressure on her than Batiatus.

      -Tropes such as the warrior woman (most of the freed women) and the Lost Lenore (Sura’s death, which motivates Spartacus to rebel)


        How Interactive Theater Affects the Play-Going Experience

        Analyze how plays that make the audience interact with the narrative may affect those who attend, perhaps in comparison to "normal" theater experiences (a clear boundary between the stage and seating). An example that could be explored is Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More, an immersive, site-specific play where the audience members are free to roam different rooms to collect pieces of a silent narrative derived from Shakespeare’s Macbeth. For the audience, how does this set-up possibly open up more possibilities when it comes to experiencing play narratives?

        • I like the plays to be more spontaneous. A play with a predictable ending is almost boring. – shadowformality 8 years ago
        • I would suggest that the writer focus on plays which are being re-invented through the use of inclusion so that there is something to compare the different methods to. Richard Schecner's 1970's production of Mother Courage is an excellent example. – Cmandra 8 years ago