How does it intervene in a theme relevant to the text or our class discussions
For this paper, you will look to one or two of the texts we have read in class and forge an argument on said selected text(s). This argument should be summed up in a thesis statement at the beginning of your paper. Your thesis statement should be clear, specific, contestable, and interpretive.
Make sure hat, whatever you choose, you are as specific as possible in laying out your textual evidence. This means that I expect to see arguments that are very much grounded in the text(s) of your choosing, and that you are performing close readings of every textual moment you incorporate to support your argument. Avoid generalizations and summary, and keep an eye always on our “Close Reading” handouts (available on Brightspace) and in-class exercises. Because these papers are only five pages long and you are expected to offer in-depth analyses of every piece of textual evidence you provide, you will probably want to choose only a few key moments of textual evidence that best bolster your central claim.
As for the contents of your argument, you have quite a lot of freedom in what you may write about. I do ask that you stick to the texts of the course, but you are welcome to make any claim that you would like, even if it hasn’t explicitly come up in class discussion.
That being said, I offer the below prompts as a means of jumpstarting your thinking, should you find them useful. You are not obligated to stick to one or any of these topics, nor to adhere rigidly to the questions and ideas they provide. Approach these as queries that will move you in the direction of your own individual argument rather than as strict prompts you must follow to the letter:
❖ Consider masculinity, and the way in which it comes to interact with conventional ideas of heroism and/or villainy. What manifestations of masculinity emerge most frequently in hero-oriented media? Which characters, if any, do we see subvert or in some way complicate conventional ideas of ‘successful’ masculinity? Ultimately, how does the relationship between heroism and masculinity come to be figured in the texts we’ve encountered thus far, and what might that reveal about social and cultural values more generally?
❖ Watchmen is a graphic novel chock full of recurring imagery. Select one of these images and trace its movement through the text. What role does this image have to play in constructing meaning for the larger novel? Why is it important? How does it intervene in a theme relevant to the text or our class discussions? Images you may want to consider include: the smiley face, watches/clocks, the Nostalgia perfume bottle, Rorschach ink blots, or the Hiroshima shadow lovers (this is by no means a comprehensive list – feel free to pick anything not listed here).
❖ As the ticking Doomsday clock between chapters reminds us, Watchmen represents a world that is barreling toward something like apocalypse. Many of its central characters are explicitly aware of this fact and conduct themselves accordingly. Consider the role of this impending doom in the graphic novel and the ways in which different characters have reacted to its inevitability differently. What different ideologies and philosophies do we see characters adopt in the wake of coming doomsday? Does the text ultimately seem to validate any one of these philosophies over the others? In other words, does Watchmen present a case for the adoption of any particular moral position or life philosophy?
❖ Between Watchmen’s two Silk Spectres, Jessica Jones, and Supergirl, we have recently seen representations of women in comic book media where they get to don superhero mantles and/or costumes, and (perhaps) avoid the dreaded fridge. What do some or all of these women have to offer our considerations of typical female representation in comic books and proximate texts? How does the relationship between femininity and heroism come to be figured? What different manifestations of female heroic power do we see, and do these manifestations show something like progress or, at least, something more careful in its gender representation than we get from texts like The Killing Joke?
In every text read, and in this case, on superheroes and villains, it is important to grasp the idea that is being put across, be it on the masculinity taking charge in the text or the heroines taking over, taking into consideration the changing times. “Watchmen” is a read that depicts the villains and heroes……………….