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Home » People » Karl Sherlock » English 120 » Resources » topx | Essay 2 Invention

Essay 2 Topic Invention: Supernatural Archetypes

The following activities will help you to explore, organize and develop further your topic for Assignment 2.

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What is the scariest supernatural book you've ever read, or the scariest supernatural movie you've ever seen (even if you're no longer as scared by it now)? What was the point of it as a literary work? How does the fear portrayed in it differ from things you (or others) are afraid of in real life? 

Free-write individually for ten minutes, then, in groups of four or five, share your responses and discuss why people are drawn to the supernatural in books, film, and game narratives.

I. Introductions and Theses

One at a time, read your précis to the members of your group and discuss

  1. how the thesis specifically answers the demands of this assignment;

  2. what theme will be used or developed in the body of the essay, based on clues in the the thesis.

A sign-up sheet for conferences will be passed around while you are in groups.Don't forget to put your name down for a day and time next week to discuss your working draft in my office, and keep a record of it for yourself. (The conference schedule will be posted securely to the course website.)
II. Archetypes and Themes

1. Discuss what all three of your chosen archetypes have in common besides the fact that they're all supernatural or paranormal? WHY does this common thread exist?

2. With which other supernatural archetypes do your individually selected archetypes compare? Choose one or several other archetypes from the list below and discuss how they might be classified (grouped) together: determine several criteria that help to determine why they belong together in the same group.

aliens beings • angels and demiurges • constructed beings • cryptids • cybernetic beings / A.I. • demons and possession • ghosts and poltergeists • inter-dimensional creatures or beings • omnipotent beings • slayers and superheroes • supernatural stalkers • time travelers • vampires • dinosaurs and dragons • werewolves and metamorphs • wizards, witches, and warlocks • zombies and/or mummies • otherCollectively discuss and examine each of the archetypes chosen by you and your peers, but this time for the cultural or social importance of each person's selected supernatural archetype

3. What does your archetype represent, and why do you feel this way? How might the several criteria you identified in the previous question be used to answer this question?

III. Support and Sources

Which examples (from film, television, literature, myth, or folklore) of the archetype do each of you intend to use in your essay, and why? Discuss your answers to the following:

  1. How do these examples help to illustrate the complex nature of the archetype?
  2. How do they illustrate the cultural or social theme introduced by the thesis?
  3. How do they help to explain WHY we, "as a culture, need and are interested in" the archetype?
  4. What sorts of external academic or scholarly sources do you and your peers intend to use for your topic, and why? Which specific intellectual aspects of your topic do they address? (Remember, this question is about the scholarly ideas of your paper, and not simply about illustrating where the archetypes show up in our stories and movies.)
Last Updated: 03/15/2018


Karl J. Sherlock
Associate Professor, English
Office Hours: 558A (inside Bldg. 52)
Phone: 619-644-7871

  • Grossmont
  • Cuyamaca
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