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Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: The Rhetoric of Othering in Popular Culture

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This course is a part of OSU's First Year Writing Program, offered primarily to incoming Freshman. It fulfills the Level One Writing and Communication requirement of OSU’s General Education. Students in this course work to develop their analytical writing skills, gain foundational knowledge of rhetorical analysis/production, and become immersed in the chosen course theme. 

Course Description

From mythology to B-movie horror, video games to the latest Disney film, monsters populate our cultural landscape, forever threatening the innocent and frightening the viewer. As a child it might seem easy to spot the monster, but as we grow older and as our media becomes more complex, distinguishing beauty from the beast grows muddled. Not every princess is pure of intent and not every creature is out to do us harm. Thus, this course revolves around discussing and developing the concept of a “monster,” questioning where our definitions come from and whether they are ultimately justified. In grappling with what scares and revolts us, we will discuss how monsters reflect the racial, gendered, sexual, and environmental fears of American society; how people define, reject, transform, and sometimes even come to love the monster. What we consider monstrous changes over time and often the monstrous will tell us more about ourselves than we expect. 

Goals and Objectives for the General Education Curriculum


Writing and Communication

Students are skilled in written communication and expression, reading, critical thinking, oral expression, and visual expression

Level One (1110)
Expected Learning Outcomes:

     1. Students communicate using the conventions of academic discourse.
     2. Students can read critically and analytically.

In this first-year writing course, you will develop your capacity for undertaking academic research and analysis through an original research project and presentation of the results of your work to an audience of your peers. You will identify an area of interest within our course theme—monsters and monstrosity in popular culture—and you will find materials to analyze, develop analytical research questions, explore secondary texts, and make claims that are connected to the evidence you have discovered. As many researchers do at this stage in their work, you will then reframe what you have learned for a public audience. During the research process, you will also be preparing for the English 1110 Symposium by working on your own Symposium Presentation, a 5-minute presentation consisting of 15 images, each accompanied by 50-65 words of narration. The creation of your Symposium Presentation will provide significant opportunities for considering the nature of your research, the relationship between visual and written text, and issues of writing craft.

Required Materials

•    Readings posted to Carmen site
•    Ferebee, Kristin, Edgar Singleton and Mike Bierschenk.  The Writer’s Companion: A Guide to First-Year 

      Writing with Excerpts from Writing Analytically. Second Edition. Boston: Cengage Learning, 2017
•    Digital and/or hard copies are available for purchase
•    You will need to have access to all readings during each class meeting, either in hard copy or digitally.


Grade Breakdown

Analytical Research Project: Analysis of Primary and Secondary Sources    500 points

Primary Source Analysis    100 points
Annotated Bibliography     50 points
Secondary Source Integration    100 points
Analytical Research Paper         250 points

Skills: Identification of appropriate primary sources for analysis, accessing university library databases, application of analytical frameworks and rhetorical methods, analysis of primary and secondary sources, synthesis of multiple critical viewpoints into new interpretations, thesis development, composing process, style and grammar

Symposium Presentation    250 points

Images    100 points
Script      150 points

Skills: Making appropriate rhetorical decisions to reframe the results of academic research for a new audience, understanding genre expectations, attribution and citation of digital and visual sources

Process Posts, Symposium Introduction, Symposium Active Listening/Response    150 points

Process Posts    90 points (6 @ 15ea.)
Symposium Introduction    30 points
Symposium Active Listening/Response   30 points

Skills: Preparatory writing and image collection, careful listening and summarizing, responding to presentations in oral and written form

Participation    100 points
Skills: Active participation in discussion, in-class writing, productive collaboration, respect for classmates, timely communication with me. 

Total: 1000 points

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