This week I collected essays for my Moby Dick unit, and I’ve been encouraging students to consider transforming their essays and writing an argument about the book that may not fit a typical traditional literary essay. I’ve been impressed by the creativity of my students, and how they maintained a high level of writing and rigor while still pursuing a creative idea.
Here are five examples of the types of transformed essays I received:
1. Moby Dick on trial: the student wrote as the court reporter, and put Moby on trial for murder of the crew of the Pequod. He even figured out how to format the document like an actual court document.
2. Psychologist’s report about Ahab’s PTSD: the student wrote as a doctor who consulted other characters and proved Ahab’s seeming insanity resulted from the trauma of losing his leg to the whale.
3. A letter as a potential professor to a department about a proposed course on influence in Moby Dick: This student presented an argument about the importance of Shakespeare, the Bible, and mythology.
4. An essay comparing Moby Dick to Mad Max: Fury Road: This student notes the parallels between the two texts and how it points toward archetypes and collective unconscious in our culture.
5. An essay explaining why Moby Dick would make a great opera: This student, an opera aficionado, argues which type of songs each character would sing and why based on the evidence in the book.