Uncanny Essay Assignment
Read the excerpt from Sigmund Freudís essay defining the ďuncanny.Ē† 3.5-5.5 typed pages (9-14 paragraphs).† Consider an original title that reflects your topic.
You might begin by thinking about this as a variation on the narrative essay assignment from the beginning of the semester.† As with that assignment, I am asking you to write about an event from your life, and I am asking you to make a climax ĺ a single prolonged instant ĺ the central part of your narrative.
The big change here is that I am asking you to think about an experience that you think reflects something uncanny in the way Freud defines the term.† We will discuss his essay at length; for now, let me just say that the uncanny is something that is simultaneously familiar and frightening.
In your climax, I would like you to consider your experience from several different perspectives, at least some of which ought to give you the chance to recall the terms of Freudís essay.† I am not requiring that you quote the essay, but I would like you to refer to it at least indirectly.† The test comes down to this: if I ask you how your experience was uncanny, I would like you to be able to point to a specific part in the essay and then show how that part reflects something out of Freudís essay.
You may well surprise yourself at how easy it is to come up with an appropriate topic for this assignment.† We will brainstorm possibilities as we discuss Freudís essay, but you might begin by considering unsettling experiences you have had in your dreams or in the most comfortable and familiar places you know.†
Have you ever mistaken a stranger for someone you knew well or vice-versa?† Have you ever made a familiar turn, or grabbed at a familiar person, only to find a strange place or a strange person?† Have you ever had deja-vu?† Have you ever had deja-vu?† All of these are examples of the uncanny and, like dreams, they happen quite often although we seldom remember them.
The easiest mistake to make in an essay like this is to forget that you are accountable to the ideas that you pick up from Freudís essay.† I donít mind if you wind up writing an essay on a topic fairly removed from Freudís sense of the uncanny, but I would your essay to reflect your understanding of how your understanding of the experience grows out of what Freud has to say.
In addition, do keep in mind that this is paper should follow a narrative essay strategy.† As a result, it should have an extensive and extended climax, and you will need to build up to that climax carefully.† It is easy to spend too much attention to an early part of your narrative so that you do not leave yourself enough space to address the uncanny in the midst of your climax.
Features of the best essays:
The best of these essays are often frightening.† There is something scary in examining where your comfort zone begins and ends.† Although the incident you describe may be an everyday sort, if it is related to the uncanny, it will probably be somewhat disturbing.† Fear for its own sake is not especially interesting; fear that grows out of looking at yourself in the mirror and seeing somebody elseís face is fascinating.
Keep in mind also that this essay is an opportunity to explore a difficult concept in the midst of telling an interesting story.† The best essays manage to balance those two seemingly separate concerns.