Wednesday, 6 October 2010


We all love super heroes and Marvel characters. But what we mostly love about them is that even though they  appear normal in their 'normal' world they suddenly transform into unbelievable super-people with powers we  can only see coming to life in our dreams. So those people fly, shoot webs laser beams, move incredibly fast, have outstanding strength, can look through walls or even predict the future or travel in time. Some of them are hybrids and have animal powers. The best example is spider man who can shoot webs, climb on walls and move really fast. The Thundercats are a good example along with the X-Men.


  1. Anatomy: Interim Online Review 05/10/2010

    Hey Andriana,

    Firstly – apologies for the delay. I did see your essay question on the group blog, but, as I’ve explained previously, I haven’t been able to post comments while using my dongle. Fortunately, by the time you read this, I’ll have broadband re-activated, so you – and everyone else – can expect much more feedback in the days to come and a speedier response time…

    Anyway, let’s deal with the essay first. Remember, you’ve only got 1,500 words so the key to success is specificity and a clear thru-line of investigation. I think you can combine both ideas – i.e. Greek mythology and our love of superheroes. If you remember when I gave my presentation in week 1, I used the ancient poem by Ovid as a way to demonstrate our enduring fascination with man-to-animal transformations; the presentation also included very contemporary examples exploring the same sorts of metamorphoses. This is precisely what you need to do; first you establish the historic cultural context and then you show how it relates/influences/informs contemporary culture; arguably, for instance, you could explore the ongoing popularity of the theme of man-to-insect transformations; you would start with Arachne and end with Spiderman, and you would research other depictions by other artists in other media of the same thing; because you’re trying to PROVE the ‘ongoing popularity of the theme of man-to-insect transformations’ – and you do this my gathering together examples and discussing what they have in common and what this ‘popularity’ can tell us about the human condition and our anxieties and fantasies.

  2. Remember too, that you are asked to structure the essay and your research in a specific way:

    1) A clear introduction to your investigation, which should also mention the different published sources you have used and your reasons for choosing them. You should use no less than 5 published sources to inform your research.

    2) A clear definition of key ideas relating to your given topic, with supporting evidence in the form of, no less than, 3 quotations from 3 different published sources. Quotations must be interpreted and their importance discussed, they should also be referenced correctly using the Harvard method.

    3) The cultural context the topic came out of/was in reaction to.

    4) An illustrated ‘who’s who’ of key individuals associated with given topic, with a clear explanation of what you think their significance is and why.

    5) Historical examples of key words/images/artefacts associated with given topic and an assessment of their importance.

    6) Contemporary examples of key words/images/artefacts associated with given topic and a comparison to the historical examples.

    7) A conclusion.
    If you use this method to set out your research and references, it will encourage you to keep things very focused and ‘on subject’. Remember too, that your brief also has a comprehensive guide to essay writing included.

  3. Regarding your film reviews: your insights and observations are good, but I want you to reconsider your structuring of them; currently, you are separating out your views from the views of others; putting the quotes at the end and the stills too. I want you to write in a more integrated way; weave the quotes into your review; introduce your sources, provide the context for the quotes; reflect on the content of the quotes; and use the stills to further illustrate your views. Think of the reviews as mini-essays. You’re being asked to write them so you can sharpen your critical thinking and refine your academic writing. By the end of CGAA year one, I want students to be fully confident and practiced when it comes to writing assignments.

    As commented previously, I like the different styles you’ve adopted for approaching the realization of your hybrid creature. This is, at heart, a self-portrait project, so I think it’s really important that you ultimately avoid a cartoony approach, and go for something that works hard to maintain your likeness or semblance. Try and avoid thinking in fixed or clichéd ways; for instance, even though you’ve studied the anatomy of fish in readiness, I can’t yet see how it’s truly effecting your anatomy; the lionfish is obviously a very decorative animal, and all the webbing/fan elements are interesting, but look more creatively at your body-shape too; remember Klimt’s Mermaid image from the presentation? They were strange and other-worldly. I just wonder if you could be braver about breaking free from the 2 arms/2 legs model? Just a thought. You might want to take a look at Jon’s blog; he’s also spliced with a fish and his ‘logic’ might be interesting for you to read.

  4. A general reminder that, alongside everything else you need to have ready for crit day, you also need to submit an offline archive of your creative development blog. There is a way of exporting your blog as PDF via Blogger – which would be ideal for this purpose. Incase you missed the original post, Alan gives details here:

    And finally – now is the time to return to the brief; time and again, students fail to submit what they’ve been asked to produce – and how; usually because they haven’t looked properly at the brief, or haven’t done so since week one. Trust me on this; just take a few minutes with a highlighter pen to identify what is required, when, and how. Remember – non-submissions are dumb!

  5. thank you for your very helpful advice Phil. I will try and write my next film review as you said and certainly approach my self portrait in a more logical way than just creating a creature. I also found very interesting your idea of exploring the history of the super hero image. It's just that I'm not sure if this essay needs to be based on just one subject, which mine will be the super hero one, or anything more than that which will be more irrelevant to super heroes. So am I basically doing research on just that or do I have to explore more metamorphosis subjects? And what do you mean by 5 different public sources?

  6. Hey there, Andriana :-)

    Okay - the easy bit first; when it says '5 published sources' it means that, when you're researching your essay topic, you should be using proper books, journals, articles and reviews. You should avoid sources like blogs, forums, and anything that doesn't have an actual author or original source. For instance, Wikipedia ISN'T a published source, because it has no author, and no publication date. However, if you were looking at an online film review from Empire Magazine, you'd have the writer and date of publication. That said, you can look at ANYTHING to assist you in understanding your topic, but really, at this level of study, you should be using the library to research your subjects. The internet can only take you so far. If you're quoting from published sources, you MUST be able to provide the complete details; if not, you shouldn't use the source as evidence.

    Okay - with your essay; you need to research the subject of super-heroes in specific relation to human-to-animal metamorphosis; so not Thor (because he's a god) and not Wonderwoman, because she's an Amazonian warrior. You need to look for Superheroes that base their powers around their animal traits. You will need to give yourself a context to begin with; so for example. 'Humans have always been fascinated by the idea of being combined with animals (give some general examples to PROVE this statement - e.g. Greek mythology, Hindu gods, the film The Fly...). This fascination is particularly evident in super hero narratives (again, give some general examples to PROVE this statement). This assignment will be looking specifically at the X-Men characters... (and then give your reasons why, and what you hope to prove etc.) You then use the criteria provided to build your investigation accordingly. For the moment, just try and give yourself an essay plan using the criteria; gather your references, select your quotes. This first essay is going to be the hardest for everyone, so try not to worry too much. Just try and say something interesting, that is supported by published evidence and good illustrations, and makes some kind of point - probably your attempt to answer this question: 'Why are we fascinated by human/animal hybrids as demonstrated by our enduring love of superhero stories? What I'm going to be interested in are your conclusions...

  7. To get you started; why not try and write a little something for each of the 7 essay criteria - fill in the blanks with what you think it should be - and then create a new post and publish it, and I'll take a look when I can. Good luck - and try not to feel anxious. You are exploring this subject; you're not going to know how to write it yet - that's why you must undertake research; if you're not reading about the subject yet, if you're not making notes, selecting quotes, it's going to be very difficult to know what you're going to say on the subject - or how. In my experience, most students struggle to 'know' how to write an essay because they're not yet ready to write it - because they don't know enough about the subject yet - because they haven't really read anything yet.

    You must read if you want to write well - golden rule number 2!

    So - good luck - and get your essay plan published asap! :-)