Thursday, March 9, 2017

ENGL 3053: Terry Pratchett, Carpe Jugulum

Terry Pratchett, Carpe Jugulum (1998)

Terry Pratchett, now sadly dead before his time, is famous for his Discworld novels, of which this is one.

Discworld is an alternate world, where the laws of physics are very much other. For one thing, Discworld is flat – a disc, like it says on the tin. 

It is a giant disc being carried through space on the back of four mighty elephants, who stand on the back of an immense turtle swimming through space. Also, magic is real on Discworld.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Thirst, 2009, Octavia Butler, Fledgling (2005)

Thirst, 2009, Octavia Butler, Fledgling (2005)

It’s interesting to read this novel, Octavia Butler’s last published novel before her death in 2006, in concert with Dracula and Thirst. Both of the latter are archetypal examples of the Victorian sort of vampire – the Other who is a threat, the Other who must be killed, because they are a threat to us and our civilization.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Midterm Study Sheet

ENGL 3053: Popular Culture: Utopian/Dystopian Literature
Midterm Study Sheet Fall 2015

The midterm will be given on March 16, 2017.  It will consist of two sections.  You may bring one (1) 3X5 index card with handwritten notes on it into this exam. 50 points.

One will be short answer.  You won’t know the questions for these beforehand, but if you have read the class notes which may be found on the class blog (address ), you should be able to answer them easily.  They’ll be questions much like the following:

(1)   What’s an archetype? Name a work we looked at in class that used archetypes.
(2)   What were historical vampires like? Give a few characteristics.

The short answer section will be seven questions long; you’ll have to answer five, although you may answers all seven for extra credit. 50 points.

There will also be an essay section.  This section will have two essays on it, taken from the four below.  You’ll have to answer one.  This section is open-book; however, you may also write these essays at home and bring them to class.  I highly recommend that you write the essays at home and bring them to class already written. 50 points.

Essay questions:

  1. In class, I’ve said more than once that, since vampires and zombies aren’t real, books and movies about vampires and zombies can’t really be about them. What, then, are these books about? Using at least three works we used in class, present your theory. (You can use outside works as well.)
  2. Much of the work we have dealt with so far has had problematic (to say the least) attitudes toward women. Choosing at least three works, write an essay that first compares their attitude toward women, and then draws a conclusion – what does this mean? Why do all these works deal with women in this fashion?
  3. Especially in the vampire literature, but also to some extent in the zombie fiction, we have seen religion used in different ways. In class, we spoke briefly about religion being used “profanely,” or as “magic,” for instance. Using at least three works, discuss their use of and attitude toward religion, and then draw a conclusion.
  4. As we were reading Dracula, I pointed out, several times, Bram Stoker’s use of hot new technologies, like Kodak cameras and portable typewriters, to inform his narrative. Does other fiction /films we have looked at make a similar use of technology? Support your answer with works read/viewed in class.