DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

monstrous reflections


 We tend to think of "monsters" as supernatural entities, threatening and powerful, beings that challenge our very existence, that might kill us or devour us, or both. As we have learned, however, defining "monster" is a slippery task. The word and idea are more elusive than it might initially seem.


Bearing that thought in mind, this final unit of study asks students to consider the representation of real-life figures, mostly from our time, or from the recent past, who might, under some circumstances, be put in the position of the "monster."


What happens when we test the idea of the "monster" category from the inside out, when we think of things from the perspective of the "monster"? Does the category break apart? Is the idea of the monster just a way to help us distance and control people who make us feel uncomfortable?


Is it possible that conventional culture, by teaching us to value the "normal," sometimes tricks us into thoughts or behaviors that might themselves seem monstrous?


This brief unit asks students to reflect on the situation of ordinary people who are treated as monsters or represented as monstrous. Looking at writing by disability activist Harriet McBryde Johnson and at advertising campaigns representing people with disabilities, students are again asked to revise their working definition of the word "monster," thinking critically about social constructions that cultivate violence and discrimination. Assigned readings, in-class practice writing, classroom discussion, and supported independent research will prepare students for the final exam.



Mon 21: Harriet McBryde Johnson, "Unspeakable Conversations"

Mon 28: Julia Miele Rodas, "Cautionary Tales"



Wed 7:

morning section (12-1869, 10-12): Visiting speaker, Michele Carlo, Fish out of Agua; meet at the Playhouse


afternoon section (12-1877, 2-4): Meet in the lab: ME G01


NOTE: Students in both sections are urged to attend the talk by Michele Carlo; the professor will be supporting students working on final ePortfolios and final exams during the afternoon session; students can attend either class session on this day (or, both!).


Mon 12: 

DUE--FINAL ePORTFOLIOS: Review and grading of student ePortfolios will begin immediately after our final class session. Each site should include: an "about me" section and revised and digitally enhanced versions of the three major essays associated with each unit of study. Students are also encouraged to add their own touches to their ePortfolios, including revised in-class writing, blogs, professional information, links to other classes or digital work, etc. Click here to see sample student ePortfolios from last semester. The posting for the final exam will be graded separately.


writing assignment four: final exam

write about an image of a modern-day "monster" 


The final exam is an online essay to be posted directly in the individual student ePortfolio. No print copy of the essay is required.


The exam is available in the student ePortfolio template; it asks writers to choose one of five "monstrous" images and to provide an essay that considers the image within the context of greater class discussions as well as source materials provided. Although students may wish to begin the essay well before the end of term, it would be unwise to undertake this project until late in the semester when assigned reading, writing, and class discussion have helped to enlarge the student's sense of the issues at stake.



There is no set length requirement. The essay is expected to use quotations for support and to document sources, but no independent research is required. Students are urged to consult the sources provided with the image, but quotations may come from any source, including texts we studied in class. Students are welcome to use language, ideas, and excerpts from their own earlier writing projects if this writing forwards the point of the final exam essay. It is expected that students will make use of ePortfolio tools to enhance their essays: hyperlinks, digital images, video, sound, etc. All sources must be documented with MLA style in-text citations and essays must include a list of works cited at the end, also in MLA style (see sample works cited page here).

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.