New Page

Final Assignment Option 1: Re-Write a Fairy Tale for Today

Please re-write a fairy tale for the 21st century. You can choose any fairy tale you like, whether it's one we covered in class, or not. However, if it is a tale we did not cover in class, please run it by your professor for approval first (and please note that stories like Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland are not fairy tales). A good rule of thumb for whether or not a story is a fairy tale is whether or not it's been re-told many times throughout the centuries, in various cultures around the world. Also, it needs to contain magic in at least several of the versions (not necessarily your version though).

While you are encouraged to use your imagination and change the tale however suits you, please keep the "tale type" the same. The tale type is the basic plot points of the tale that remain the same throughout every retelling.

This assignment has three components: a creative component that is a short story; a critical, research-based analysis paper; and an in-class presentation where you share both your creative and critical components.

Creative Component: The short story should be the fairy tale re-written, in 5-10 pages, double-spaced and typed. You should feel free to alter the title of the story to suit your update, but please indicate somewhere on the paper which fairy tale it is you are updating. Make sure the story takes place in our world today—do not set it in the “old fashioned fairy tale time.”

You will want to update the major themes of the story to represent the cultural problems of our world today. For example (and please do not steal this idea), a Hansel and Gretel story could take place in New York City with parents who are overstressed with work to pay their exorbitant rent (not their fault, rent is pricey there), so they leave their children to their own devices, with lots of candy to compensate for their absence. The kids get fooled by a catfisher (witch) on the Internet, who lures them into Central Park to kidnap them. They have to use their wits to rescue themselves. This version speaks to a number of contemporary problems that fit the tale type: absent parents, societal inequalities (rent hikes), hunger for love and attention, and Internet predators.

You will want to consider the following areas for updating: the setting, the characters’ job or life situation, their motives and actions, and the moral or theme of the story. Each of these elements should reflect the current cultural values and problems that the story represents and is updating. Make sure you can connect each aspect to the tale type. Get creative and think outside the box!

Critical Component: The analysis should be 5-7 pages, typed and double-spaced. In your analysis, you need to talk about the updates you have made to the tale, and why you have made them. How do your updates serve a 21st century audience? What cultural problems do they explore, and how do they explore them?  Make sure to provide examples from your own fairy tale to support your ideas, just as you would in any other paper you write in this class. You are analyzing your own work just as you would analyze the work of the artists/writers you've encountered in this class. 

In addition, you can talk about what aspects of the tale you have decided to keep the same. Why did you keep those aspects the same? Do you see them as serving some kind of continuing cultural need? 

Use MLA formatting and include a Works Cited page. Choose a strong title. 

For this assignment, you may use the personal pronoun, but still keep your language appropriate for an academic audience throughout.

Please incorporate your notes from this course on fairy tales into your analysis. You also need to incorporate at least three outside research sources from the library. These should relate to your fairy tale tale type (at least one source on this), and/or your contemporary cultural problems, providing, for example, statistics on rent increases, and absentee parents (these fit the Hansel and Gretel example above; you should focus on whatever cultural problem relates to your topic).

Please note that the day on which you present is the day on which your assignment is due.

Good luck and have fun!

Final Assignment Option 2: Create a Monster

Create a monster for the 21st century, to be presented in a creative form as well as analyzed in a critical, research-based essay. You will present both your critical research and your creative component to the class in a presentation.

Pay careful attention to your monster's physical attributes, living environment, prey, attitude, etc. Make sure these directly represent cultural fears and desires.

Creative Component: 
Your monster's physical body needs to represent contemporary, USA cultural fears and desires. You will put together a creative representation of your monster, which can take a number of forms. These forms are:

1) Short story of 5-10 pages, double-spaced
2) Video of at least 5 minutes in length (should use only your own filming, do not pastiche already-made work from online)
3) Comic (should be at least 20 frames, full color; you may use Pixton’s free digital comics online if you cannot draw)
5) Short play of at least 5 pages, to be acted out in class

You may also propose a creative form other than these if you like, provided you run it by me first. No poems, please.

When grading your creative component I will be looking for ingenuity, creativity, and effort. I will be looking to see if the form meshes well with the content (for example, if your monster has to do with social media, then a social media account for a creative form makes a lot of sense). Quickly slapped together work will receive a score of zero. Under no circumstances may you use work you’ve already created for another class.

Please do not use images that do not belong to you or are copyrighted; you are expected to produce your own content. If you have questions around which images are appropriate to use, please ask.

Critical Component: 

Additionally, please answer the following questions in an essay format, 5-7 pages in length. Being able to critically analyze your monster, as we've critically analyzed the monsters in this course, is imperative to your success on this assignment. Failure to do so, even if you have a cool looking monster, will result in a non-passing score on the assignment. Please note that this part of the assignment is even more important than the creative component, as this is a composition/critical thinking class!

Here are the questions:

What cultural fears does your monster represent?
What cultural desires does it represent? 

You will want to choose something specific to the culture. For example, just as Frankenstein's monster represented a fear of scientific advancement in the Romantic era, your monster will need to express a particular fear and/or desire that relates to our cultural moment as Americans in this country, today, in the era of Facebook, the internet, climate change, political strife, student loan debt, etc (those are just a few specific examples, it can really be anything). Whatever you do, don't just say that the fears/desires are something generic. You won't want to say that your monster represents a "fear of the unknown" or "fear of change" or "fear of death" --these are too broad and generic. Pick something related to what's going on in the world today. "Fear of being buried under a mountain of student loan debt and never being able to buy a house or save for retirement" is a specific fear, related to what is going on in the world today. (Don't copy the fears I've put here--come up with your own). 

How is the monster's body a physical manifestation of these cultural fears and desires? For example, if it is a vampire-like creature that can walk out in sunlight, does it represent our changing attitude toward difference--the fact that we now are more tolerant of those who are not "the norm"?

How do the cultural problems your monster embodies play out in the real world and affect people? This part of the paper is research-based and could theoretically take up several pages, so don’t skimp on it. There is no reason this essay should be unnaturally short. Remember, it is the most important part of the assignment—even more so than the creative component—and ideally you have chosen a cultural problem that is extensive and widespread. There should be plenty to say about it.

How does your monster "fit in" to the lineage of the monsters we have learned about this semester? Does your monster have anything in common with those monsters? How does your monster differ from them, as a representation of this particular cultural moment and place?

Apply at least six quotes from the in-class monster thesis notes to your monster. How does your monster represent these quotes?

Additionally, you need at least three outside resources from the library's database to support your ideas. You may choose various angles to research; likely, however, your research will relate to the cultural fears and desires your monster represents.

Make sure to use MLA formatting and to include a Works Cited page.

Please note that you may not choose terrorism, human trafficking, or sexual assault/rape as a cultural fear for this assignment.


For your final project, you will have 8-10 minutes to present your work to the class. You should not go longer or shorter than this amount of time.

You will present both your creative component and your critical component. Aim to spend about half your time presenting each, so there is something of an even breakdown.

The order in which you present your two components is up to you. You may choose to present the creative then the critical, then the critical then creative, or some mixture of the two.

Please consider how you will present your work, and practice ahead of time. Bring notecards to keep yourself on track, and time yourself to make sure you don't go over or under time.

You are welcome to use the technology in the classroom if it is appropriate. You may choose to create a Powerpoint or Prezzi in order to share your work. Anything that you put up on the screen should have proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Capitalize all sentences and check for errors. It is better to have no Powerpoint or Prezzi than a sloppy one, so take care.

If you will be screening a video, or sharing anything computer-based, make sure it is online already on a website in advance to coming to class. Do not bring a flashdrive, or email files to yourself to open. 

We do not have time between presentations, so you need to have everything on a website so that  you can simply type in the address and bring it right up.

Please note that I will be grading your presentation on the following:

How well prepared you are (practice, practice, practice!)
Whether you stay within the time frame
How well you articulate your critical component
How creative your creative aide is and how well you present it

Please note that I will not be grading you on how calm or nervous you are. I don't think that's fair. You can be nervous and still get a great grade, as long as you present your work. Don't worry about taking a minute to pause or needing to re-state something. That's totally fine.