Trickster

This handout is to give you a list of what each paper is based on, as far as the overarching idea. Your task, for each paper, is to choose one work from contemporary culture that explores these ideas from our studies of world mythology. Please choose a work from the humanities created during the 20th or 21st-century (film, published works [books or comics], theater, art, music, or performance arts). The paper is an examination of the “trickster” archetype.

You must write a full three to five-page paper with proper in-text citations and a bibliography. The body of the paper must be no less than three full pages and no more than five full pages or the score will be lowered. These must be submitted to the correct location on Bb before the due date/time listed in the course outline. Each paper must be a critical examination of the work and must include the following, with one to one-and-a-half pages for each section of the paper: (section 1) what was the author’s purpose in creating the work and did they properly achieve that goal, (section 2) critique the content by analyzing one specific aspect of what you have read/watched/examined (chose one theme/motif/or symbol that you feel enhances the work and explain it), and (section 3) relate the work to your life and/or society today (be specific: explain how you see these concepts or ideas manifesting themselves in our everyday lives). You must use either MLA or CMS for your citations and quotations, and for creating your bibliography, meaning: you must use a style guide! There are links to both MLA and CMS on Bb in the module in the course materials tab called “Paper Help: The Technical Stuff.” 1-2 citations per page is required. You must include a bibliography at the end of the paper, on a fresh page, by itself, and properly formatted please. I am requiring a bibliography because that is any and all sources you used to write the paper. I do not want a works cited because that is only a list of the works you create in-text citations for in the paper. I would like a good academic list of all the sources you used to do your research. It is required that you include at least three acceptable sources for each paper. One is the primary source you are examining, and the other two are research sources to support your critique. You can absolutely use more than two supporting sources, but two is the bare minimum. I want to see the evidence of all of your hard work please!

A note on Disney: The answer is no. Students cannot use Disney movies for these papers.

  1. Paper #2: Topic and Potential Sources for “Trickster” paper:

A. Topic: Explore the archetype of the trickster and how we encounter it in contemporary stories. Why do we love the trickster so much? Why do we have so many stories that use the trickster? Why is the trickster associated with: fire theft, creation of humans, giving humans technology, a boundary-crosser who breaks physical and societal rules, cunning and foolishness, the cause of mischief, gender and form variability (changing gender and shapeshifting), the underworld or death, and sometimes the end of all things (like the Norse Ragnarok, or end of the gods).

B. The trickster archetype: In mythology, and in the study of folklore and religion, a trickster is a character in a story (god, goddess, spirit, man, woman, or anthropomorphisation), which exhibits a great degree of intellect or secret knowledge and uses it to play tricks or otherwise disobey normal rules and conventional behavior. Often, the bending/breaking of rules takes the form of tricks or thievery. Tricksters can be cunning or foolish or both. The trickster openly questions and mocks authority. They are usually male characters, and are fond of breaking rules, boasting, and playing tricks on both humans and gods. All cultures have tales of the trickster, a crafty creature who uses cunning to get food, steal precious possessions, or simply cause mischief.

C. Some examples from mythology: Loki (Norse), Anansi (West African and Caribbean), Krishna (Hindu), Coyote (Native American, esp. Southwestern U.S.), Raven (Native American, esp. Pacific Northwest Coast), Gluskap (Native American, Algonquin), Jacob (Bible, Old Testament), Rabbit or Hare (a wide variety of African language communities), Eshu (Yoruba people, Nigeria, West Africa), Tezcatlipoca (Aztec), Maui (mostly Hawaiian for the trickster, but also Polynesian and other peoples), etc. We are focused on World Mythology in this course, but if it helps you to think of some from Greek Mythology, you have figures like Hermes and Prometheus that fit this as well.

D. Some acceptable contemporary works that fit the topic (more stuff on Bb too):

1. Deadpool: two feature films, Deapool (dir. Tim Miller, 2016) or Deadpool 2 (dir. David Leitch, 2018); or the actual comics from Marvel. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1431045/

2. American Gods: TV show from Starz (2017); or either of the two books by Neil Gaiman (American Gods, 2001 or Anansi Boys, 2005). This could work for not only Anansi (Mr. Nancy) but also potentially for Odin (Mr. Wednesday). https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1898069/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

3. Loki: Thor/Avengers films or in the Marvel comics; in the film The Mask (dir. Chuck Russell, starring Jim Carrey, 1994); or a whole bunch of animation, some of which is shown on this YouTube video clip: https://youtu.be/26r47aL8xH4

4. Bart Simpson (The Simpsons, TV show)

5. Bugs Bunny (Looney Tunes, Merrie Melodies, and films by Warner Bros.)

6. Monkey King 2 (feature film, covers part of the iconic Monkey King stories from Chinese Buddhist mythology, dir. Soi Cheang [as Pou-Soi Cheang], 2016): https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4591310/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2. There are also many other things with the Monkey King in it, including comics and works of art.

7. Bart in Blazing Saddles (feature film, dir. Mel Brooks, 1974): https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0071230/

8. Baba Yaga: can be found in many ways, but a contemporary novel from the Canongate Myths Series that fits well for our purposes is: Baba Yaga Laid an Egg by Dubravka Ugresic (2009, Canongate Books). Here is the listing on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6011268-baba-yaga-laid-an-egg?from_search=true and on the Canongate site: https://canongate.co.uk/books/1060-baba-yaga-laid-an-egg/

E. Other places where you can look for potential ideas in contemporary works:

1. “List of Modern Day Tricksters”: (on Project Gutenberg’s site (Article Id: WHEBN0021994757) http://gutenberg.us/articles/list_of_modern_day_tricksters

2. “Craig White’s Literature Courses, Trickster”: http://coursesite.uhcl.edu/HSH/Whitec/terms/T/trickster.htm

3. “The 8 Best Tricksters in Literature”: https://www.quirkbooks.com/post/8-best-tricksters-literature

4. “TV Tropes: The Trickster”: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheTrickster

5. “Pop Culture Tricksters”: https://turmarion.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/pop-culture-tricksters/

6. “Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: Trickster Gods and Pop Culture”: https://ladygeekgirl.wordpress.com/2016/04/17/oh-my-pop-culture-religion-trickster-gods-and-pop-culture/

7. “April Fools Special: Top 10 Movie Tricksters”: https://houseofgeekery.com/2012/03/31/april-fools-special-top-10-movie-tricksters/

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