| EXTRA CREDIT
The following list is just to give a rough idea of some of the extra credit possibilities. Write on one of the following, or by all means feel free to make up your own. The items below are not necessarily actual paper titles, but rather they are simply suggestions that might lead to a specific paper title.
GREAT PAPERS FROM THE PAST
(because these suggestions authomatically draw upon the Web)
- SNOW WHITE SWALLOWED BY SCRIPT ANALYSIS: An entire web site devoted to interpreting the traditional fairy tale of Snow White forms the creative core of this project. The web site, created by Rutger's professor Kay Vandergift, is simply called Snow White.
Begin by reading the hypertextexed version of this story which encourages you to contrast and compare this text with thirty-seven other variations. Using an 1898 edition of
the Grimm tale, the user can compare the highlighted text to over thirty editions of the tale
representing more than a century of re-tellings. After reading the story, peruse the site, paying special attention section entitled Criticism of Snow White. Here youll be able to shop in a veritable mall full fascinating interpretations. Sections on context, issues, and criticism offer a range of views from scholars and writers that help to frame Snow White for the user. Various issues or controversies are raised and these should be looked at to add further definition to the understanding of this story.
After extensively extensively exploring this site, write a paper which includes the following:
- After carefully reading through the available interpretations, discuss the approach that you feel is the most convincing. Or perhaps you would prefer to combine the viewpoints from two or three scholars into your own, ultimatley unique vision of the tale. Ultimately your personal take on the tale is whats important, and the first part of your paper will be defending your point of view.
- Drawing upon your vision of Snow White as discussed above, the second part of the paper will compare and contrast a character from one of the plays we have read this semester with Snow White. Does a character seem to follow or deliberately detour away from the path (i.e. a "life script") of Snow White?
- Plays Developed from Novels: Surf to InterNovel and select two or three titles of novels that catch your attention. For each of these stories, read all of the available chapters, and weave together a paper based on the following questions:
- Which of the two or three novels (or partial novels) would make the best play script? In other words, which novel has the best potential of becoming successfully transformed into a play? Why?
- Once your choice has been made as to which of the stories would make the best script, then speculate as whether some chapters (or parts of chapters) are better than others for dramatizing. Why?
- What play or plays that we read this semester are similar in style and/or content to the novel you are analyzing?
- In transforming the story into a play, is there anything you would cut out? Anything you would add or embellish?
- Typically each chapter is written by different person. Can you decipher any stylistic discrepancies?
- Most likely the story you're discussing is not yet finished. How do you think the story (and play) should end? Why?
- YELLOW WALLPAPER IN NORA'S DOLL HOUSE: Compare and contrast Ibsen's A Doll's House with Charlotte Gilman's short story, The Yellow Wallpaper. Not only isThe Yellow Wallpaper available on the web, but at this same site there is extensive research material as well, including a message board very much like ours. Read the various postings and by all means wrestle with the perplexing question as to who exactly "Jane" is in the story, and how does Jane compare with Nora.
- Plays Developed from Short Stories: Similar to above project, except that you're working with a short story, instead of a novel. Surf to InterNovel and select a short story. Write a paper that answers the following?
- Would this story be workable material for a play script? Why?
- With respect to dramatizing the story, what would be your favorite part of the story to dramatize? Least favorite?
- What play or plays that we read this semester are similar in style and/or content to the short story you read?
- In transforming the story into a play, is there anything you would cut out? Anything you would add or embellish?
Dream Weaving Script Analysis: Carl Jung reminds us that "the dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul," and the Talmud tells us that "A dream that has not been interpreted is like a letter that has not been opened." To find lots of available "letters" to open, surf to site called:
Once you have arrived at the opening menu, select "dreams."
Select a dream that particularly fascinates you, and interpret the dream, using one or more plays that we have read this semester to help back up your interpretation.
By the way, oftentimes, the "Technique of the week" is a good resource to consult for developing ideas, and figuring out creative interpretive approaches. Go to the following for an archive of the weekly techniques.
Review the following, depending upon whether your approach happens to be Jungian or Freudian:
The Tarot--Dynamic Script Analysis Tool: The Tarot, one of the world's oldest and most trusted methods of psychic divination, is full of fascinating archetypal symbols. Whether or not you believe in the Tarot's power of prophecy, it is obvious that the cards are a potentially powerful "projective" tool. Although there are many ways to interpret the Tarot, one of the most enlightening ways to dig into the symbols is to rely on Jungian psychology. Such a "lens" will serve you well in unlocking the ancient secrets of the Tarot, and will very possibly bring you to the belief that the Tarot is yet another of the many useful tools available for script analysis. As with script analysis, the basic idea of the Tarot is not only to interpret the individual parts (the symbols and cards), but to figure out how the individual parts relate together as a whole. The best way to get a feel for the Tarot is to have your reading taken. If you don't have your own cards, then by all means journey to the Virtual Tarot to get a reading. There are various techniques ranging from one-card readings to full spreads. I suggest using the Celtic cross method, which is the oldest and most popular of the various spreads. For details about this spread click here.
The Virtual Tarot site provides a very concise interpretation, which might make for a good start, but you will very likely want to learn a lot more than is provided in these cursory descriptions. More detailed information about a each particular card, is available by clicking here. There are a great many helpful books on the Tarot that you can find at the library, but one of the best I've found is currently online. This online book is very well written, has practical exercises at the end of each chapter, and could be a great resource for further research and project ideas. Here are a several PROJECT POSSIBILITIES
which use the Tarot as a highly creative tool for script analysis.
Generation X Looks at Death of a Salesman: How would an audience composed entirely of "Generation X" patrons react to Death of a Salesman, The Glass Menagerie, or some other play we have read this semester? The thirteenth generation born since the American Revolution has attracted considerable media attention in recent years. Its members, born 1961-1981, have received a barrage of labels from "Whiner" to "Slacker" and everything in between. The generation without a name, widely believed to be the only generation born since the Civil War to come of an age unlikely to match their parents' economic fortunes, may be most commonly known as Generation X. Even though you are probably a member of this thirteenth generation, you may want to research what others have said about you. Whether or not you agree or disagree with the stereotypical portrait, write about how you feel an audience of this age group would react to a particular play or plays. What nerves would be tapped and why?
Take a look at the: Generation X Interest Group, which is one of the many web sites devoted to this topic. An interesting article to check out is: An Opinion: The Myth of Generation X:. Or take a look at the an interesting article and site called, Myth or Reality: Distinquishing Elements of the Slacker Generation. For a site that lists over twenty or so Generation X links go to Gen X, 13th Generation, Slackers,
Post-Baby Boomers Links By the time you read this, some of these links might be dead, but I think you've got the picture--a quick search on the web can bring lots of potentially valuable information.
A Poster Possibility for Oedipus: Take a look at the painting entitled Oedipus and Sphinx by artist Radomir D. Perica. Imagine that this picture is the poster design for an upcoming production of Oedipus Rex. What kind of production might we expect? Describe in detail a production concept that meaningfully connects with Perica's picture. Should you visit the artist's home page by the way, you'll discover that she is asking $12,000 for this painting. If you would like to visit the web site where this image came from, which includes other pictures created by artist Radomir D. Perica click here. Had you not seen her Oedipus painting, based upon her other works, would you have hired her to do a poster for Sophocles' play?
American Dream or Nightmare: Directly or indirectly many of the plays we have read this semester have dealt with the so-called American Dream. In America (so the mythology goes), one can be anything, do anything no matter what one's social and economic status may be. All it takes is hard work, tenacity, force of personality and being noticed by the right people. If success doesn't come today, it will surely come tomorrow. From Horatio Alger to Bill Gates, belief in the American Dream permeates our culture. Nature, new frontiers and the wide open spaces are essential to the American dream, evoking the values of a simpler time and the opportunity to start over. Lots of information is available at the library, but for immediate gratification you might take a look at the following sites to get some ideas:
Two Paper possibilties:
- Compare and contrast how two or three different plays we have read this semester have dealt with the concept of the American Dream.
- Or pick a play to write about which in your opinion has effectively dramatized a particular way of thinking about or relating to the American Dream. You may very likely opt to discuss only a particular facet of the American Dream, rather than attempt to encompass all its many associative issues. Although your discussion should be focused on a single play, feel free to bring into discussion other plays that we have read this semester to support your ideas.
(because as exciting as some of these suggestions might be to you, they do not automatically draw upon the Web; they are potentially great topics, but you'll have to work a bit harder to create a "web-eye" view with these topics)
- Can Ya Dig It. The arts are fundamental to our history and to our culture. From the art left by our ancestors, the stories of all of us unfold. Keeping this in mind, imagine that one of the plays we have read this semester is literally dug up by an archeologist in the year 3000. The newly found play happens to be the only extant example of what used to be called "modern theatre." The find of this text is particularly significant because it is well known that the history of all earlier periods had been wiped out by a series of unforseen nuclear disasters occuring late in the year 1999. Given all this, what is this play going to tell our inquisitive archeologist about what life and people were like when this play was written? Or is the period of the play different from when the play was written? In any case, the central question is what is the archeologist apt to discover about life in the past? What, if anything, will still be relevant, and what will not? A variation of this kind of paper is to have a play be discovered by an "alien." For an example of just how strange the conventions of theatre would be to an extraterrestial, read An Alien's Eye View of Theatre.
- RethinkingDeath of a Salesman: Miller's Death of a Salesman has the distinction of being the American play most stuidied at the university level. Here are two paper topics that might help prove why many feel this play is a quintessential American masterpiece:
Here some web sites to start your research:
- Miller's Mindscape: A Scenic Approach to Death of a Salesman
- Beyond the Male Locker Room: Death of a Salesman from a Feminist Perspective.
- Wartegg Project 1: Contrasting Characters
- The first phase of this project is to:
- Take the Wartegg Drawing Test, and analyze the results.
- Ask me for a finished test of an anonymous person, and analyze these results.
- Take the test as a character from one of the plays we've read this semester, and analyze the results.
- The second phase is to write a paper comparing and contrasting the three test results.
- Wartegg Project 2: Eight Parts
- First Phase:
- Divide one of plays we read this semester into 8 parts. These eight parts can be beats, tactics, sequences, or any divisions which happen to be meaningful to you. The eight parts may or may not comprise a totality; for example, if they happened to be eight consecutive beats, there is a high probablity that there are more than eight beats to the play, so in this sense, they would not comprise a totality. All that's essential is that in your mind there is a meaningful reason for focusing on these eight parts. How you decide to delineate the eight parts is the major creative challenge of this first phase. Interpret the eight divisions in any way you like; maybe, for instance, you find a scene with seven major beats, and the eighth part represents the overall theme or superobjective of the play.
- Using the Wartegg Drawing Test Grid, draw pictures that represent each of the eight parts.
- Second Phase:
- Write a paper in which you justify your choices re:
- the eight parts (and)
- the eight individual pictures
- In justifying your picture choices, tell how they interrelate to each other, and to the play at large.
- When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Pick two or three plays that support or reject this now famous book title.
- Life dramatized as a metaphorical prison: Your paper might discuss how two or three plays we have read this semester vividly dramatize one or more of the various categories of imprisonment below.
- Individuals trapped by love and marriage
- Men and women imprisoned by the dictates of society
- Human beings trapped by the demands of art and morality
- Persons paralyzed by the fear of the supernatural
Perfect Painting: A paper passionately describing why this painting entitled Two Lovers by Magritte is a perfect visual depiction for a particular play, or show how it relates to more than one play.
Dynamics of the American Dream: Compare and contrast how three different plays have dealt with the concept of the American Dream.
Mutilating Children: variations on a theme as seen in the plays Buried Child, Death of a Salesman, and Desire Under the Elms.
Playing with Fire: Compare and contrast the use of the fire motif in Hedda Gabler, Glass Menagerie, Death of a Salesman, and Young Goodman Brown.
Technique versus Tale: Argue for or against the following idea:
For the most part dramatic texts are not narratives (or "stories") that can be conveniently distilled into a short paragraph that conveys the flavor of the play or the author's intent. In drama, it's usually not what happens that is important but how it happens--when, and in what order, in what context, and with what degree of detail and revelation. The "how" is much more important than the "what."
Mothers and Daughters: Compare and contrast mother-daughter (or father-son) relationships in three of the plays we have studied this semester.
Suicidal sameness or difference: Compare the suicidal deaths of Willie Loman, Jessie Cates, and Hedda Gabbler, or maybe the title should be: Suicide: The Final Motif.
Dreamer as Saint or Demon: Compare Dream Figures from The Tempest and Young Goodman Brown.
The Tree of Life: The tree as a symbol of life force in Anton Checkov's The Cherry Orchard and Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman.
The Blinding Sun: The sun as symbol and archetype in Desire Under the Elms.
Skewed Sight: The symbolic dimensions of eyesight in Desire Under the Elms.
Ghosts of the Mind: Memory and the past in Death of a Salesman and The Glass Menagerie.
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