Magic and Monsters: Level TWO (2)

Assignment Rationale and Goal
THE RATIONALE: The purpose of this assignment is to foster your progress toward achieving the course goals and outcomes outlined on the syllabus, specifically:

Demonstrate knowledge of major literary texts, movements, and genres
The ability to analyze, compare, and contrast those texts, movements, and genres
Comprehension of individual texts and interpreting them through historical, social, economic, scientific, and other contexts
Construct arguments using the conventions of academic writing
Apply and relate the ethical situations encountered in these texts to your own personal experiences
THE IMMEDIATE GOAL: To create sustained and engaged interaction with the reading material for the duration of the entire course, specifically:

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Creating an argument that demonstrates an in-depth familiarity with the topic(s) while using course content as evidence to support that argument
Revising the complexity and/or scope of an argument in response to reading more and more texts
Developing an argument about a broad and fundamental concept (Level 1) into one that addresses the nuances and complexities of the topic (Level 4)
A few years ago, Wired (a science and technology magazine), began producing a video series called “5 Levels” in which an expert explains a single concept at five different levels of complexity. For example, a musician explains harmony, a neuroscientist explains brain connections, and an astrophysicist explains gravity.

See For Yourself
If you want to watch the full series, here’s the channel with all ten (10) episodes. (Links to an external site.) At the very least, watch the three annotated below.

Pro Tip: Pay close attention to the types of metaphors and analogies used at each level. They get increasingly complex and rely on more shared knowledge with each level.

You’ll notice that each expert first approaches their topic at the most fundamental and basic level possible. That’s a good approach to emulate. Eventually, all of them address the moral, ethical, and social implications of their explanation. That’s also a very good approach to emulate!

The Hits:
Conectomes (Links to an external site.) (~10 minutes)
Pay attention to the common language/terms/phrases used and how that language is carried forth and complicated from level to level
Also, notice the types and complexity of questions asked at each level
Final explanation is directly connected to the first level
CRISPR Gene Editing (Links to an external site.) (~17 minutes)
Excellent job of defining fundamental/basic terms in order to proceed with conversation at each level
Builds upon those shared/fundamental terms
Common concerns/worries/misconceptions repeated at each level
Ignore the hellish bass hum that comes in during the last level
Gravity (Links to an external site.) (~36 minutes)
Fantastic job conveying the personal/immediate consequences of the conversation for each person
Quizzes at each level
Always starts with questions to identify common misconceptions/major questions in the field

Level 2 (100 points)
Thesis: Still broad, but engages some of the “guiding questions” from the prompt in order to narrow and complicate previous thesis.
Evidence: Relies upon a carefully selected number of texts and literary movements.
Analysis: Generally compares and contrasts texts. Still draws broad conclusions.
Context: Considers culture, location, time period, and genre.
Assumptions: Reader has some familiarity with the prompt’s topic and context.
Example thesis statement: “Magic is often used to challenge royal male characters to prove that they’re worthy of their wealth and power.”

Essay Topics
Explain why there are so many supernatural entities (non-human “monsters”) running around these texts(Puchner, Martin, et al., editors. The Norton Anthology of World Literature. 4th ed., A-C, W.W.)

Here’s the link: (Links to an external site.)
Access code: HRA-NKY-CFP

(Example :Sir Gawain and the Green Knight)
Guiding Questions:

Are monsters fundamentally “good” or “bad?” Are they even meant to represent these concepts? What about humans? Why?
What sorts narrative roles do monsters serve in these texts? Do they teach? Challenge? Help? Destroy? Why?
How are monsters used to illustrate human strengths, flaws, or morals?

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