Essay 4: Using a Text as a Lens/Monster Culture

  • Required Research/Readings: Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s “Monster Culture (Seven Theses)” and two additional scholarly resources that you will find.
  • Minimum Length: 5 pages 

Background: For this project, you’ve read and dissected Jeffery Jerome Cohen’s “Monster Culture (Seven Theses).” In this chapter from his 1996 book Monster Theory: Reading Culture, he establishes the idea that monsters are a reflection of the society that creates them, and by investigating monsters, we can understand more about that culture. 

Prompt: Your goal is to argue whether or not Cohen’s theses are valid – that this argument is or is not an effective way of analyzing society. Successful essays will do this by:

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  • Including an introduction that draws in the reader, briefly introduces Cohen and the topic of your essay, and has a clear thesis that states your argument and signals a plan for the essay.
  • Creating a literature review that establishes and explains Cohen’s theories in a body paragraph. Summarize his main argument, claims, and evidence. Discuss his ideas as if you were explaining them to someone who was unfamiliar with the text.
  • Finding at least three different monsters of your own to prove or disprove Cohen’s theses. (You may also focus on three different interpretations of the same monster. Ex) Zombies from Night of the Living Dead 1968, Zombieland 2009, and Warm Bodies 2013). You could use movie monsters, TV monsters, literary monsters, mythical or fairy tale monsters, and/or real historical monsters. The choice is yours. This section of the paper will be where you include your outside sources to strengthen your analysis.
  • Including at least two outside sources to strengthen your argument. The two sources must be in addition to Cohen’s chapter – find a mix of peer reviewed and popular sources that support your analysis of the monsters and society. Don’t just rely on your interpretations and opinions – find others who agree with you!
  • Including vivid and specific details when describing the monsters you have chosen, and tie your examples to Cohen’s theses (you do NOT have to address all seven of his theses, only the ones that apply to your monsters). 
  • Finishing with a conclusion that restates your thesis, reviews your body paragraphs, and a final though, prediction, piece of advice, something you learned or realized or the answer to a question you posed earlier. 

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