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The capstone experience of English 102 is a research paper. Please choose one of the following topics:

OPTION 1: The Monster Option

Monsters reveal the cultural fears of a given historical moment. The challenge is to link the presentation of the monster to the specific issues of that historical moment in order to understand the larger cultural concerns of that era. Pick a monster from literature or film that you know well. Analyze both the way the text presents the monster and the historical record of the time the text was produced to argue that the monster represents a specific fear from that historical moment.

Research requirements:

  • Use the primary source (the book or film).
  • Use at least one of the theory texts from the syllabus.
  • Use at least two scholarly articles.
  • Use at least four newspaper articles drawn from Lexis-Nexis.
  • Use at least one book.
  • Use at least one web site.

OPTION 2: The Horror Option

While we have focused almost exclusively on monsters as way of studying the fears of a historical moment, we can expand our discussion to include any kind of horror, be it the traditional haunted house, the serial killer, plague scenarios, or even technophobic horrors like The Ring or Cell. Such horrors can reveal a cultural fear or the uniquely personal fears of an author or film maker. Pick either a single text or several related texts that deal with the same horror and analyze them to show how they embody the specific fears of a culture, a historical moment, or an individual.

Research requirements:

  • Use the primary sources (the books or films).
  • Use at least one of the theory texts from the syllabus.
  • Use at least one scholarly article.
  • Use at least six newspaper articles drawn from Lexis-Nexis.
  • Use at least one book.
  • Use at least one web site.

OPTION 3: Real Monsters

Sadly, we live in a violent world and do not have to look far to find real monsters. Identify an individual or a specific type of person that you think is a monster and argue why the label should be applied. To successfully make this argument, you will need to develop your own definition of a monster that draws upon the theories we have worked with all semester to show why your monster is not just a bad person: your monster must actually affect how a culture behaves (changing laws, home defense, new taboo behavior, widespread paranoias, urban legends, etc.). You will have to collect an impressive amount of factual evidence to support your claim.

Research Requirements:

  • At least six articles related to your monster drawn from Lexis-Nexis.
  • At least one book.
  • At least three web sites.
  • At least one scholarly article.
  • At least one of the theory texts from the syllabus.


  • Develop a specific argument that you are proving by writing the paper.
  • Use evidence from research to support a claim rather than simply present facts purely for the reader's information.
  • Select sources that are academically appropriate. No Wikipedia.
  • Fall between 6-8 pages in length.
  • Use proper quotations with signal phrases and parenthetical citations.
  • Include an MLA "Works Cited" page with the minimum required sources.
  • Use at least one block quote.
  • Give parenthetical citations for paraphrased material or unusual facts.
  • Follow the class format.

Additional, but Separate, Assignment: The MS Word Skills Assessment (see description in Assignments)


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