Creative Option 1: Creative Writing Assignment

CREATIVE PROJECT

Goal & Description:

Now that you have exposed yourself to some of the most imaginative and enduring stories of the world literary canon from the last 200 years, it is your turn to do something creative! This final project can take many shapes, as outlined below. However, they all share one common feature. You will have to produce analytical writing that reflects on one of the dimensions of the creative process you find most compelling.

The options outlined below also share a common goal. The overall goal of this assignment is to reflect upon, analyze, and express what the power of imagination means to you. Your project should also engage with one or more course ideas that we discussed this semester—including the relationship between artist and audience; the power of art to scandalize or hurt; the ability [or lack thereof] of artists to resist or transcend various types of oppression; the way modern artists adapt classical archetypes in new forms and media; and so on.

You will have several options to choose from for this project. The following options, outlined below, fall into one of two categories: the creative options and the analytical options. Whichever option you choose, however, please make sure to follow the directions carefully – especially when it comes to page count and components.

Remember, you can have fun with this project. I hope you do. But you must also demonstrate how your project reflects, accurately and critically, what you have learned this semester about one of our course themes.

CREATIVE OPTIONS

You will be free to use one of the creative options outlined below for your final project. Please make sure to fulfill all the requirements of your chosen option. Each creative option below [6-8 pages of writing, unless otherwise indicated], MUST be introduced by a Critical Foreword, whose minimum length will vary according to type of project. These are minimum requirements; you are free to go beyond these requirements.

Creative Option 1: Creative Writing Assignment

[6—8 full pages of written text + 2—page Critical Foreword]

Marjane Satrapi’s Chicken with Plums is a gripping example of how the graphic novel can deal with real life issues of identity, religion, politics, trauma, memory, and the importance of family. Other stories, like “A Hunger Artist,” give a heart-rending account of an artist struggling to stay afloat in an increasingly impersonal world that no longer values his artistic contributions. And Baudelaire’s poetry, though coming from different collections, collectively speak to the importance of aesthetic experience and sensation in the modern world.

 

Now it is your turn to engage in a creative writing option. You may write a story, a series of poems, or a graphic novel of your own invention. [Your graphic novel should be accompanied by panels, pictures, thought and speech bubbles, splash pages, and cover designs, just as we find in Satrapi’s graphic novel. You can search for “graphic novel panel templates” in Google for options about different page layouts and designs.]

Your original literary work can tell any story you like, including:

  • a story about or inspired by an episode or defining event in your own life;
  • a story inspired by an historical event important or of interest to you;
  • a recreation of a scene from a text we read in class, changed or updated;
  • a re-telling of one of our course stories from the perspective of another character, 
or “translated” from one medium [like painting or dance] to another [like literary 
fiction or poetry]; or
  • an imagined sequel or prequel to any of our stories. 
Your story, poem collection or graphic novel should wrestle with a particular theme we discussed this semester. You may choose from one of the many ideas we covered— including the role of technology in art; the relationship between artist and audience; commercial success versus artistic purity; the spirit of experimentation; art and taboos/censorship; monsters and the nature of fear; trauma and the “healing” capacity of art; and so on. Rest assured, your stories, if personal, will be kept confidential. Please share only what you are comfortable sharing, if you pursue this option. 
Your creative writing project can be presented in any format that you find critically provocative and worth discussing in your Critical Foreword. You can present it as a conventional chronological story; a series of blog posts or other electronically-mediated texts; a post-modern story that plays with form, sequence or physical page layout; or an illustrated story accompanied by pictures, paintings or photographs. [If you use “found” images on the internet, please caption each image by writing below the image the url of the website from which it was taken. The supplementary images are NOT counted as part of the 6—8 pages required of this assignment, so please make sure you have written enough text before you add images.] 
[A note for those of you pursuing the graphic novel option: You do not have to be a professional artist or storyteller to pursue this assignment. You are free to make the drawings as elaborate or “primitive” as you like, provided there is consistency to your work and clear effort and creativity. You may also use computer software to help you create your graphic novel, or found images on the internet that you manipulate.] 
Your graphic novel, story, or poetry collection should feature 6—8 FULL pages of writing AT MINIMUM. [If you are working on a graphic novel, your assignment should consist of 6—8 pages with an average of 6 panels, or boxes, per page. Make sure your pages reflect comparable work and detail that you would have otherwise shown in 6—8 pages of writing.]

You must also preface your Creative Writing project with a 2-page CRITICAL FOREWORD [not counted as part of the 6—8 pages] explaining the inspiration and rationale of your project. In your critical foreword, you must also explain the central theme you are exploring in your text, and how your text relates to a course theme or helps us redefine the very ideas of creativity or the imagination. A good way to establish this connection is to compare your work to one of the works we studied this semester—though you are also free to quote from lecture.

Creative Option 2: The Visual Text

[Painting or Sculpture: 5 images + 3—5 pages of Critical Foreword] [Photographic Essay: 10—20 images + 3—5 pages of Critical Foreword] [Original Film Production: 3—5 minutes + 3—5 pages of Critical Foreword] Perhaps writing is just not your bag. That’s okay. Maybe you are more into visual culture—in which case, one of the following visual text options may be of more interest to

you:

An Original Painting or Sculpture

Is there a painting or sculpture discussed in class that fascinates you? Is there an artistic movement you want to try your hand at? If you already possess a skill set in painting [or sculpture] and would like to create a visual piece that speaks directly to a course text or theme, then you may enjoy this option. Your creative piece MUST be an original creation produced for the purposes of this class, and not a recycled piece you made in the past.

The choice of subject matter, style, and medium [raw materials] is up to you. I am happy to discuss options with you if this interests you. Your art piece must be sufficiently labor- intensive, and not something that looks like it could have been created the night before it was due. Therefore, select something that is within your scope of achievement but challenging enough to reflect half a semester’s worth of work, effort and thought.

I will ask you to submit an extensive photographic portfolio of this art piece. You must include at least 3 [THREE] “finished” shots, or photographs of the finished product. These shots must be taken from different angles and camera positions, creating a variety of images of your artistic creation. These photos can be taken from side angles, above or below; they can be close-ups of the work, blow ups of different areas of the canvas or sculpture, or long shots of the work in its entirety.

Each of these “finished” shots, furthermore, must be well lit and feature your creation placed in a context you planned and created/designed. Remember, context matters here. You could design a space in your home that highlights [or creates interesting contrasts to] your work of art. You could lease a space in a public setting, like a gallery, hall, or café [if you are able to do so.] You could use public space in other creative ways, if that is an important part of your statement.

In addition to your three “finished” shots, you must submit at least 2 [TWO] “process” shots, or photographs of that same work IN PROGRESS [in the process of being produced], with you placed somewhere within the shot. You must be shown to be working on the

 

piece within those shots—as opposed to simply standing over the work and smiling or frowning. [You may need to recruit a friend or peer to photograph you for these two images.] You may include more of these “process” shots, but they should capture crucial aspects of the process by which you created this work. [You may also distinguish them from your “finished” shots by re-coloring them in black-and-white, as many professionals do.]

This means that in total, you must submit at least 5 [FIVE] photographs.

Your portfolio should also include an EXPANDED Critical Foreword of 3—5 pages. This expanded foreword should do the same things a regular Critical Foreword should do. However, it should also detail your artistic process and include any notes about the production process you encountered along the way that contribute to the work’s overall meaning or significance. You should also produce commentary about the importance of your chosen and created/designed context or setting for the work of art. If you ‘unveiled’ it on Facebook or to family/friends, you may want to include their reactions [and not just the compliments], as a way of speaking to the many different interpretations your piece evokes.

A Photographic Essay

If you are more interested in exploring a topic through the medium of photography, you are welcome to put together a photographic essay. Your essay must consist of at least 10—20 images, which you take yourself—as opposed to “found” images on the internet. You may assemble your photos into a portfolio [in .docx or .pdf format] with any captions or lines of poetry that you see fit to include.

Your photographic essay must have a thematic angle or point of view. In other words, you must assemble a photographic essay consisting of images that speak to similar concerns or ideas. The following is a list of suggestions to help guide you through a photographic essay:

  • What are the various aspects of life and society not readily visible to mainstream audiences, as some photographers have done?
  • How do you see the evolution of the “selfie” as a photographic genre, and what does it “mean” when taken in different contexts or with different compositional strategies in mind?
  • How does photography elevate and showcase the other arts—including dance, fashion, or cooking?
  • How do normal, everyday objects take on an elevated meaning or significance through the art of photography?
  • How many different “versions” of the same person can be photographed, and what are the implications of such photographic evidence?
  • How would you “translate” a story we read in class into the unusual genre of the photographic essay? 
Your photographic essay should also include an EXPANDED Critical Foreword of 3—5 pages. This expanded foreword should do the same things a regular Critical Foreword

 

should do. However, it should also detail your artistic process and include any notes about the production process you encountered along the way that contribute to the work’s overall meaning or significance.

An Original Film

If you are a budding film maker who wants to tell a story using all the techniques and technologies available to us today—including camera work, scripts, actors, location, costumes, make up, and lighting. If you are up for the challenge, then this might be the option for you. Your video should be an original production lasting 3—5 minutes in length in its final form [with or without sound].

Remember, this is a project that must make sense in the context of the class, so try to choose topics like the ones outlined in the Creative Writing option above. Because we studied several films this semester, you are also expected to utilize some aspect of film technique and style we studied—including specific lighting strategies, costume choices, gestures, blocking, cinematography and camera movements, and edits. You may review your notes or consult an “elements of film style” website to see the variety of filmic techniques available to you.

Your film can belong to any particular genre or trend within the live-action world— including comedy and slapstick inspired by early cinema; film noir or detective stories; documentary; music video; and more.

Because this is an assignment for a school project, please choose a topic that is suitable and appropriate for this exercise. Please avoid nudity, explicit erotic content, or actual scenes of violence or unethical behavior. [Yes, I must censor you. It’s not a perfect world.] If you have any hint of doubt about your project’s overall respectability, contact me beforehand so that we can discuss your project.

Your film should be submitted to me in person [or left in my mailbox in Room 772 Curtin Hall] as a DVD. Alternatively, if you feel comfortable posting your video online on a password-protected blog, you may do so. Just send me the necessary information that I will need to access your video.

Since film is a collaborative experience, you are allowed to collaborate with up to two other people. Though you will submit one project as a group, you will be graded individually based on your specific efforts and role in the project.

In addition to your film, you must also submit ONE EXPANDED Critical Foreword, consisting of 3—5 pages. This expanded foreword should do the same things a regular Critical Foreword should do. However, it should also explain your production process and any necessary script notes or summaries the viewer will need.

If you are working as part of a collaborative team, each member of the team must also submit a short statement [1—page or less] detailing what you did.

 

Creative Option 3: The Memoir

[6—8 full pages of written text + 2—page Critical Foreword]

How do authors present aspects of their own life in writing? If you are a budding creative writer and would like to share an aspect of your life or family history, told from a particular perspective, this might be the option for you.

Your memoir should include rich descriptive detail about an experience or two that are particularly meaningful for you. In this manner, your memoir should feature some “memory writing,” or writing that calls to mind an important image, scene, or event from your past.

However, you must do more than simply evoke the past. Your memoir should also have an overall “point” of significance to it. In other words, the memoir should not simply rehash an event or events in your life. It should pull the reader back into the present day and give the reader some indication of why those events are important and meaningful. What does the event teach you as a person, student, or budding professional? Which values does it enforce or change? How does it change the way you see the world, human behavior, or the big-picture concepts like love, death, illness, survival, happiness, family, or duty?

Whatever event you choose, please make sure to convey to your reader which lessons your life episode has taught you. [A good starting point for this assignment is to think about those unexpected lessons that we have not necessarily heard before—moments that were a real “awakening” for you. In this manner, write about the unexpected and not the obvious.]

You are also free to experiment with the form and perspective of your memoir. You can write it as a traditional memoir that recounts [and describes in rich detail] an episode from the past and narrates the “lesson” you learned from it today.

However, you can also write your memoir with a particular topic or structure in mind. A good strategy is to use the “list” method in which individual items each convey an important truth about your life, personality, history, or temperament:

  • The best—or most reviled—characters in literature or film;
  • The best—or most painful—songs;
  • The most inspiring artists or public figures;
  • The most unusual places you have visited;
  • The best—or most personal—foods or food rituals that have become a part of you; 
You are also free to include any supplemental materials, not included in the 6—8 page minimum requirement, to help you “flesh out” your memoir, including photos and recipes, a “sampler” CD or link to a Spotify playlist, and so on. 
As always, personal stories will be regarded as a confidential matter between student and instructor. Your memoir should feature a minimum of 6—8 pages of writing and a 2—page CRITICAL FOREWORD [not counted as part of the 6—8 pages] explaining the inspiration and rationale of your project. In your critical foreword, you must also explain the central

theme you are exploring in your text, and how your text relates to a course theme or helps us redefine the very ideas of creativity or the imagination. A good way to establish this connection is to compare your work to one of the works we studied this semester—though you are also free to quote from lecture.

RESEARCH OPTIONS

If you are just not the creative sort, you are still in luck. You may use this opportunity to research an aspect of the course that excites and interests you. For these options, no Critical Foreword is required, but some academic research and analysis will be necessary. Please make sure to fulfill all the requirements of your chosen option. Each research option below must consist of 5—7 pages of writing, which includes information from at least THREE relevant sources [including ONE full-length ACADEMIC book—identified by the fact that a Ph.D. wrote the book, or that an academic university press published the book]. For your other two sources, you may use academic or reliable popular sources, including journal, newspaper and magazine articles. These are minimum requirements; you are free to go beyond these requirements.

Research Option 1: An Artistic “Scene”

[5—7 full pages of written text, No Critical Foreword]

Sometimes, a writer or artist is as good—or as bad—as the scene or artistic movement to which he or she belongs. From the Parisian bohemians in the Moulin Rouge of the early 1890s to the Seattle grunge musicians in the early 1990s, different artists can sometimes create radically different art works under the same unifying aesthetic vision.

If you are interested in exploring a creative scene anywhere in the world from the last 200 years, which “scene” would that be? How is your chosen scene or movement international in scope? Who were TWO key figures in that scene, and what kinds of values—political, intellectual, cultural, social, or theological—did the various members of that scene embrace? How were those values upheld—or perhaps challenged—by an individual work from each figure?

The following is a list of artistic “scenes” and movements that may pique your interest for this project. If you have other ideas, please consult me first:

  • Romanticism in poetry or music
  • French Decadent movement
  • Realism
  • The Moulin Rouge
  • Paris “expatriates” of the 1920s
  • Primitivism
  • Surrealism
  • Ballet Russe
  • Italian Futurism
  • Art Deco
  • Magical Realism
  • The Latin American “Boom”

Comparative Literature 133 Momcilovic Spring 2017

  • Pop Art / Conceptual Art / Graffiti & Public Art
  • French New Wave cinema
  • Digital Art/Flash fiction/“Twitterature” 
For this assignment, you must consult outside academic sources to help you. Please do not rely solely on Wikipedia; we will be checking thoroughly to make sure your research goes beyond the information presented there. 
As a reminder, be sure to establish the following points:
  • What is the historical relevance or significance of your chosen scene or movement?
  • How does your scene or movement attain an “international” character? [Are there 
versions of this movement in other countries, or people who emigrated from other 
countries? Are there foreign influences in the works of this scene/movement?]
  • Which values or ideas did they espouse and adopt in their work?
  • Who are the two key figures you will focus on, and why do they matter?
  • Which text—performances, paintings, short stories, novels, poems—from each of 
these figures offers a definitive reflection of their respective scene or movement? 
Your research paper should feature 5—7 pages of written text, at minimum. You may also include supplemental images not counted in the final page requirement. No CRITICAL FOREWORD is required. 
Research Option 2: An Artist Profile [5—7 full pages of written text, No Critical Foreword] 
Did the work of one of our assigned authors, playwrights, painters, film makers or musicians interest you? Do you want to compare the assigned text with other work they have produced earlier or later in their careers? Do you want to know more about “divas” like Madonna, Josephine Baker, Frida Kahlo, Maria Callas, or Margot Fonteyn? 
For this assignment, you must study two other texts or performances created by one of our key figures on the syllabus, and provide an analysis of those additional texts in light of the things you learned about the text on the syllabus. You can compare their differences or similarities. Do they explore similar themes in different ways across the three works? Do they seem to change their attitude toward a particular phenomenon? What do the three texts suggest about the evolution of the artist’s vision across time? 
Your artist profile should include
  • An analysis of important historical factors relevant to the artist’s career;
  • An analysis of the international scope or dimension of the artist’s work [like foreign 
influences, collaborators, immigrant experiences, etc.];
  • An analysis of two key works not covered in class. 
Once again, do not rely solely on Wikipedia for this assignment; we will be checking thoroughly to make sure your research goes beyond the information presented there.

Your research paper should feature 5—7 pages of written text, at minimum. You may also include supplemental images not counted in the final page requirement. No CRITICAL FOREWORD is required.

 

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