Park University Natural Born Celebrities Discussion
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Please choose one of the following questions to answer for this unit by Wednesday at 11:59pm (CST). You should also respond to two of your classmates’ postings by Sunday at 11:59pm (CST).
Before answering this unit’s questions, you should read Schmid’s Natural Born Celebrities, “The Victorian Killer as Media Star: Jack the Ripper and H.H. Holmes, p. 31.
Keep in mind, as you read the text, a few of the questions posted below.
Full-bodied entries—of at least ten sentences of writing from you (in addition to quotations from the text)—are more likely to receive full credit. Lesser credit will be assigned to work that is missing, brief, or clearly disengaged or sloppily produced such that miscues interfere with readability.
Your responses to other students’ work are also assessed. Students often resist commenting on each others’ work in substantial ways; instead choosing to post simply “good job” or “looks okay to me.” This kind of peer response doesn’t help your own—or your peers’—development as a writer and thinker.
Acceptable peer responses will, among other things:
- Explicitly identify what was learned from someone else’s work.
- Ask a follow-up question.
- Offer an alternative interpretation.
- Offer concrete strategies for improvement.
Choose one questions to answer:
- At first glance there is little to connect Joe Goldberg (in our novel this week) and Jack the Ripper, but Schmid portrays the panic and fascination with the Ripper as something that the media created. On p. 33, Schmid describes the public panic in 1888 when Jack the Ripper stalked and killed his victims as motivated by the media. Is our fear of Joe the same as a Victorian Londonite’s fear of the Ripper? Or is our fascination with serial killers dramatically different in the 21st century? Give specific media examples or points from our novel this week to detail why or why not.
- Schmid details the fact that much of our own knowledge of the Ripper is taken from “dime novels” written just after the murders. These books were excessive, romantic, Gothic depictions of a monster. Using specific examples from our text this week, show me whether or not You is a “dime novel” reveling in gratuitous description of a murderer or in real life danger.
- Much of Schmid’s chapter discusses the ties between Jack the Ripper and nationality, specifically his “Englishness” or his foreignness, depending upon the choice of suspects. Take a note from Schmid and describe the ways You is an American serial killer novel. What aspects of our society or national identity appear to be tied with serial killer media in the 21st century or with the consumption of violence overall?
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