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The Menagerie: A collection of short fiction

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This project consists of five short stories in varying genres, all leaning towards the fantastic. "Wood Devils" (Honorable Mention in the 2018 Swarthout Awards in Writing) attempts to explore the absurdity and pain in long-running family conflicts, as well as

This project consists of five short stories in varying genres, all leaning towards the fantastic. "Wood Devils" (Honorable Mention in the 2018 Swarthout Awards in Writing) attempts to explore the absurdity and pain in long-running family conflicts, as well as the sense of isolation that comes from living in hard-to-reach places. "The Green Man's Daughter" investigates the boundary between the fantastical and the everyday by using the Other as a viewpoint, and underscores the importance of speaking out in a confusing and sometimes frightening world. "Maleficis ex Machina" attempts to look at community violence, mishandled technology, and intergenerational conflict by taking the collision between the fantastic and suburban to an even greater degree than the previous piece. "Probation" sits at a crossroads between bureaucracy and corporatization, and looks at the benefits of finding a middle ground between Heaven and Hell. "For a Crown" dramatizes the only partially-successful attempt in history at stealing the crown jewels from the Tower of London, and Charles II's inexplicable pardoning of the thief. Although the stories do not intersect (shared names and an abundance of cats notwithstanding), they all focus on the barrier between the mundane and the extraordinary. Just how porous that boundary may be is, as always, uncertain.

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2018-05

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An ACME Analysis: What Wile E. Coyote Can Teach About Character Creation

Description

Drawing on existing scholarship as well as primary analytical materials, the research within this report demonstrates Wile E. Coyote's character is reliant on human connectivity and is evocative of the human condition, reflecting his disciplined and stylized design he possesses.

Drawing on existing scholarship as well as primary analytical materials, the research within this report demonstrates Wile E. Coyote's character is reliant on human connectivity and is evocative of the human condition, reflecting his disciplined and stylized design he possesses. Comprised of literary, film/media, and rhetorical elements, this report illustrates how Wile E. is an individual whose character holds various influences that provide dimensionality to his existence. The research within this report is both primary and secondary through observational recordings about the cartoons Wile E. appears in and through thorough analysis of texts elaborating on the elements comprising Wile E.'s character. Primary research from the initial observational recordings provides direction for the secondary research after viewing multiple cartoons and films containing Wile E. Coyote in his Warner Brothers Studios appearances and noting unique moments in his cinematic career. The notes from this viewing of Wile E. in his natural "habitat" drive the secondary research to focus on specific aspects of Wile E.'s character through the analysis of supporting texts which ultimately leads to the findings within this report. Research in the fields of literature, film/media studies, and rhetoric shape the analysis of Wile E.'s character as this report studies the various components compiled within the cartoon coyote. As a multifaceted individual, Wile E. illustrates a complexity within a stylized character that allows viewers to connect to his plights and to identify with his struggles. Through his emulative form, Wile E. embodies vital elements of character creation that allow him to become a memorable and prominent character that resonates in viewers and artists. From Wile E. Coyote's example, future generations of story tellers, regardless of their medium, can learn how to create similarly iconic and timeless characters within their works. Such stories can then contribute significant additions to popular narrative and characterization.

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2018-05

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Vermillion Comedic Anthology

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The Vermillion Comedic Anthology comprises of three works of fiction, each around fifteen pages in length. The stories were written throughout the course of Hunter Vermillion’s residency in the English: Creative Writing (Fiction) program at Arizona State University. The first

The Vermillion Comedic Anthology comprises of three works of fiction, each around fifteen pages in length. The stories were written throughout the course of Hunter Vermillion’s residency in the English: Creative Writing (Fiction) program at Arizona State University. The first story Study-a-Broad, was written in his capstone fiction class, while the second story Herald’s Horticulture was the first piece Hunter wrote in his first fiction class.

The content of these stories is edgy, humorous, satirical (unlike this abstract), and generally absurd—all this while retaining elements of realism. “Realism” in the sense that any of these stories could occur; there are no supernatural elements contained. However, the actions and characters are so exaggerated that their purposes are to call attention to the character/societal flaws to which they reflect. The more edgy elements of these stories are not included for shock value; in fact, just the opposite. Their sparse use is purposeful to call extra attention to a certain scene or action. Often a story’s use of crude language is intended characterize these despicable actions as negative—to show that a boss should not be treating those around him like servants, for instance (as is the case in the story Fore!).

Disclaimer aside, the true intention of these stories is simple: to entertain. These are humorous pieces, aimed at poking fun at some typical college, workplace, and neighborhood drama. That’s not to say the pieces are devoid of any deeper meaning, because as described above, they seek to satirize overlooked bits of culture. However, the overarching goal of the Vermillion Comedic Anthology is to entertain readers and provide them much need escape from the stresses of the world.

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Date Created
2019-05

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Cruising the Gay Canon: Examining Cornerstones of Gay American Fiction from 1945 to 1969

Description

In the mid-twentieth century, a number of vital and quietly revolutionary gay male writers, including Christopher Isherwood, Gore Vidal, James Baldwin, and John Rechy, increasingly wrote about explicitly homosexual experiences and culture despite social and legal opposition. Both individually and

In the mid-twentieth century, a number of vital and quietly revolutionary gay male writers, including Christopher Isherwood, Gore Vidal, James Baldwin, and John Rechy, increasingly wrote about explicitly homosexual experiences and culture despite social and legal opposition. Both individually and collectively, these four authors ultimately merged disjointed identities to establish a tradition of visibility and resistance in the United States. Divided into four main sections, this thesis examines each author’s portrayal of homosexual experiences and culture through his distinct approach with a close literary analysis of various works. The first section considers Christopher Isherwood and how milieu affects his depictions of homosexuality in The Berlin Stories (1945), Down There on a Visit (1962), and A Single Man (1964). The second examines Gore Vidal’s The City and the Pillar (1948) and the relationship between homosexuality and masculinity. The third section looks at how James Baldwin writes about the intersection of homosexuality, race, nationality, and class in both Giovanni’s Room (1956) and Another Country (1962). Finally, the fourth section considers the emergence of queer communities built around resistance in John Rechy’s City of Night (1963). In addition to these literary texts, original reviews of each novel published in The New York Times capture their reception and acceptance into a mainstream American readership. Through their distinct approaches, these four authors collectively present a varied, although somewhat limited, look at the homosexual experience in postwar, pre-Stonewall America.

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Date Created
2019-05

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Empathy Eternal: Vonnegut's Enduring Conviction

Description

Throughout his many works, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. explored a multitude of topics and issues central to the human condition, becoming a highly vocal social critic whose messages still retain significance even decades after publishing the majority of his novels. His

Throughout his many works, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. explored a multitude of topics and issues central to the human condition, becoming a highly vocal social critic whose messages still retain significance even decades after publishing the majority of his novels. His characteristic wit and tendency towards science-fiction created a signature style through which readers are not only entertained, but greatly impacted by the observations on society he displays through his writing. He had a special affinity for writing about the care of all people and the inequality on which capitalistic societies thrive, perceiving the harsh realities of what this system does to those who have not the fortune, luck, or circumstances required to be successful under capitalism. His humanistic beliefs shine through in his writing, showing his dedication to the idea of empathy for all human beings. This concept of empathy will be the main focus of this paper, as it comes through within Vonnegut’s writing and relates to different issues that continue to plague modern America.

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2020-05

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The Cultural Value of Bad Storytelling

Description

An investigation into the cultural phenomenon surrounding books and movies that are considered critical failures, but are nonetheless championed in popular culture. Stories are an essential part of American culture, and many people not only tolerate but truly enjoy those

An investigation into the cultural phenomenon surrounding books and movies that are considered critical failures, but are nonetheless championed in popular culture. Stories are an essential part of American culture, and many people not only tolerate but truly enjoy those stories that are shocking, confusing, and, in some cases, those that were created by storytellers with almost no talent at all. The continued production of these lackluster stories was considered, with an eye to the corporate influences on film studios and publishers. This paper also looked at two storytellers, the filmmaker Ed Wood and the author Stephen King, whose value as artists has been debated by passionate fans and their strongest critics. The sociological concepts of taste and cultural capital, as defined by sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, and the art movements of postmodernism and metamodernism, particularly the style of camp as defined by Susan Sontag and the value of bad taste in art as defined by John Waters, were investigated in regards to their connection to the popularity of bad films and novels. A brief investigation into the psychological effects of consuming bad stories, especially in children, was also included. From this foundation of the bad story as an important part of our culture's ideas about art and its consumption, the paper then addresses some of the popular methods of consumption of the bad story. For novels, the paper examines the trend of pulp fiction novels and of romance novels, going into depth on the role of E.L James' Fifty Shades of Grey in popular culture. For film, the paper examines the impact of the midnight movie trend on the popularity of subversive, counter-culture films, the role of camp genre films like Sharman's The Rocky Horror Picture Show in our culture, particularly with an eye towards audience participation screenings, and the way in which other projects, like Joel Hodgson's Mystery Science Theater 3000, transform bad films into new, enjoyable entertainment. Overall, this paper investigates all of the positive aspects around a failed story that allow these missteps in writing and directing to still find success in our culture.

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2018-05

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Playing the Changes: Four Stories of Music, Death, and the Unknown

Description

There are no words for the trauma of death when it strikes unexpectedly. What to say when a mother dies in childbirth? When a father figure contracts an unknown disease for no apparent cause? When a beloved pet, long mourned,

There are no words for the trauma of death when it strikes unexpectedly. What to say when a mother dies in childbirth? When a father figure contracts an unknown disease for no apparent cause? When a beloved pet, long mourned, may still be alive and hidden by estranged family? Generations may pass, and children may grow up, but the pain leaves marks that echo across time and the other borders we construct between our past and present. We may find strength on solitude, or prayer, or the words of a song written by someone else. In these four stories, spanning almost half a century, the marks of death and attempts to soothe or hide them are everywhere. Children on the cusp of adulthood grapple with the lives and the lies of their parents. Musicians examine the relationship of their music to the world. Legends and myths lurk in the shadows, tempting with false hope and rationalizing the unexplainable.
In “Playing the Changes,” we meet two men stranded in a small desert town in 1972, a time when their attraction to each other is still dangerous. Nile Walker is a jazz musician, running from a spurned lover and the law. Benji Garza is a once-devout Catholic, fixing cars and caring for his orphaned nephew, Hector. Walker and Garza’s affair will spin both lives and their heredity into sweeping tragedies that characters battle with lust and melody. Walker has a son he never meets, a drifter who finds connection with another lost soul at an airport in “La Petite Mort.” Hector is forced into early adulthood in “The Words,” when his ailing uncle’s health fails due to a mysterious disease not yet called AIDS. Later Tre—a young man struggling with the weight of his own lineage—meets him in “PHX.” These stories examine questions of death’s causes and its myriad effects, and offer this solution: Knowing that we cannot know everything, and living, loving, and singing anyway.

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Date Created
2016-05

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Forbidden Love and Adulterous Affairs: An Analysis of the Portrayal of Tristan and Isolde throughout the Ages

Description

This project examines the literary figures of Tristan and Isolde, looking to see how each character is portrayed, how their portrayals change through time, and takes a socio-cultural perspective in attempts to explain why these portrayals were used, and why

This project examines the literary figures of Tristan and Isolde, looking to see how each character is portrayed, how their portrayals change through time, and takes a socio-cultural perspective in attempts to explain why these portrayals were used, and why they changed. Three different versions of the Tristan and Isolde story from three different time periods were used: Le Morte Darthur by Sir Thomas Malory from the 1400's, Idylls of The King by Lord Alfred Tennyson from the 1800's, and the film Tristan + Isolde distributed by 20th Century Fox in the mid 2000's. For each version of the story, the primary text or film, along with secondary sources, were used to determine how each character was portrayed. This was done by examining Tristan and Isolde's physical appearances, stations in life, actions, and personality/tone. These portrayals from each version were then compared with portrayals from the other versions to determine what changes had occurred. Finally, secondary textual information was used to examine the culture in which each version was originally published, specifically examining such socio-cultural changes that could explain why the previously determined portrayals of Tristan and Isolde were used and why they differ from versions of these characters from different time periods. The results of this study found that some characteristics of Tristan and Isolde's portrayals do not change through time. Specifically, their physical appearances and stations in life are, for the most part, fixed. Tristan is always a handsome, strong, and noble knight/warrior while Isolde is always a beautiful and delicate princess. Other characteristics, such as personality/tone and actions do change drastically from one version to the next in accordance with the changing culture in which the authors and audience members lived.

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Date Created
2015-05

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Identifying with Fictional Characters

Description

The study of literature, which has traditionally been the work of the humanities, has seemingly opened up to biology in recent years through an infusion of cognitive science and evolutionary psychology. This essay examines two perspectives on the potential for

The study of literature, which has traditionally been the work of the humanities, has seemingly opened up to biology in recent years through an infusion of cognitive science and evolutionary psychology. This essay examines two perspectives on the potential for reader/character identification, one perspective from cognitive/evolutionary studies, and the other from the humanities. Building on both perspectives, I propose my own notion of reader/character identification called immersive identification. I argue that fiction is especially suited to prompt readers to identify with fictional characters in an immersive way. Then, I demonstrate how different cognitive/evolutionary perspectives of fiction can accommodate my notion of immersive identification. Finally, I defend my account of immersive identification against a counterexample.

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Date Created
2014-05

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Merging Technology and Creative Writing to Improve Literacy and Foster Inclusive Community Development

Description

At Arizona State University the retention rate is a problem. On one hand, students come to take advantage of the great opportunities a large school facilitates, such as internship opportunities and a variety of courses. On the other hand, being

At Arizona State University the retention rate is a problem. On one hand, students come to take advantage of the great opportunities a large school facilitates, such as internship opportunities and a variety of courses. On the other hand, being at such a large school can leave students overwhelmed and lost; students do not view ASU as "their school." This thesis explores a unique and very possible solution to this problem. Through a creative writing story merged with an online website and geo-cache treasure hunt, this thesis presents the history of ASU in an interactive and engaging way in order to foster the development of an inclusive community centered on school pride. Furthermore, through this piece of interactive literature, the first of its kind, researchers will be able to measure the direct impact of this story both qualitatively, based on community response, and quantitatively, based on the names recorded in the geo cache boxes.

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Date Created
2014-05