Friday, September 26, 2014

Nemesis: essay and song

I found out yesterday the topic of this year's student essay contest--Nemesis.  It just so happened that I thought about posting a music video to the song of that name by Shriekback for Throwback Thursday yesterday, but I was running late and had already posted for the day.  On top of that, I was right on schedule for number of posts and page views for the month, so I decided to skip it.  It ended up being my best day for page views so far this month.

Today, I'm going to an event sponsored by the same committee who also came up with the essay idea, so I'm posting both the video and the essay prompt.  First, the video, which is from Shriekback's live show, Shriekback Jungle Of The Senses Part 1.

(Nothing but) Flowers may be the theme song for the blog and as such may be my theme song now, but "Nemesis" was my personal theme song before that.  It mentioned both prehistoric animals and parthenogenesis, which were subjects of my M.S. and Ph.D. research respectively and was a cool song to boot.  That's why I wanted to post it yesterday.

Follow over the jump for the essay prompt.

As I did for Saving Detroit: this year's student essay topic, I present to you this year's Student Essay Contest topic, "The Role of the Nemesis."
Overcoming a nemesis requires more than strength or speed or brains; it requires change. In all the stories that we love to hear and tell, central characters, real or fictional, overcome some challenge that is so difficult that it forces them to change. Easy victories do not make good stories because nothing really happens-- no one is challenged or changed. Conflict makes the story as characters grow and reach their potential, and any conflict can be seen as a nemesis. So does the nemesis create the hero? Is Superman really Superman without Lex Luther? Would there be a cold war and a space race without Joseph Stalin? Are we to thank the villains of fiction, history or our own personal lives for helping us reach our potential?

The nemesis can arrive in many forms; it does not need to be an evil super villain or a criminal or a bully; it does not even need to be a person. Your essay can be based on a personal, fictional or historical nemesis. Describe a nemesis and how he/she/it forced someone to reach their potential (even if they didn’t reach their goal).

In an essay between 1,000-1,250 words, chose a single nemesis from the options below and describe how their presence drove a change in a personal life, a fictional life or in history.
  • The personal nemesis could be your own story or that of someone you know, and how facing a challenge in life resulted in a better, stronger person. The focus should be on the opposing force and how he/she/it shaped someone you know.
  • You could even write about yourself as the nemesis. You may be the hero in your own story, but in someone else’s story you were the challenge to overcome.
  • The historical nemesis may come from any time period. Choose a villain from history and describe the impact of their policies and actions and how humanity’s opposition led to progress in science and/or culture. What good emerged through the efforts to overcome or oppose the dictators, tyrants and sociopaths that have gained power throughout human history?
The essay must take an academic approach, and your ideas and conclusions must be supported by information from outside sources. They can include books, magazines, documentaries, graphic novels, biographies, interviews or historical documents. Support your conclusions and ideas with established theory, perhaps psychology or sociology, historical facts, published character profiles, or eye witness interviews. Your essay must include four references from outside material, and your citations must be in MLA or APA format.
To all my students, happy writing!

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