“ true crime ” broadly construed W r i t i n g

“ true crime ” broadly construed W r i t i n g

Archetype Analysis


In Rachel Monroe’s Savage Appetites, she outlines four archetypes of women in connection to true crime: the detective, the victim, the defender, and the killer. In this assignment, you will explore your own identification (or dis-identification) with Monroe’s archetypes in terms of your own relationship to true crime. In essence, this assignment is a hybrid of personal narrative and literary analysis, resulting in a cohesive argument.


You do not have to identify with any of the archetypes. You are encouraged to challenge, reframe, question, or otherwise interrupt Monroe’s framework. For example, you might partially identify with all four archetypes in different ways in different moments, identify with none of them and introduce a fifth archetype, find shortcomings with Monroe’s definition of an archetype and offer your own angle on that archetype, respond in the hypothetical (“If book X had done A & B, then….”), or any other approach that authentically speaks to your understanding of, perspective on, and engagement with true crime.


To demonstrate your argument, you will provide a sustained and complex engagement with and close reading of Monroe’s book and at least two other books from our class, one of which must be something you did not write about in either the literature review or the definitional argument; you will draw from a minimum of four secondary (scholarly/critical) sources to augment your analysis, one of which must be a peer-reviewed journal article. Additional evidence can come from any genre, either from our class or not, including podcasts, documentaries, social media, trending stories, personal experiences, and other mediums of “true crime” broadly construed.


Your identity—your background, your race/class/gender/country or state of origin/etc—occupies an important place in this assignment. With this in mind, careful use of first person is a must, as is artfully constructed anecdotal evidence. At the same time, the assignment calls for complex analysis of true crime texts and the manner in which you engaged with these texts. Therefore, the assignment demands a sophisticated and nuanced blend of scholarly and personal writing.


I recommend you go back through your notes to see how you responded to certain moments in the books we read. Look at your live tweets. Think about how you position yourself when reading the news. Really reflect on where you see yourself, how you feel connected or disconnected to the stories told in true crime, when you felt moments of resistance, camaraderie, guilt, identification, pain, resentment, fear, anger, optimism, and other important responses to this complex genre.


tl/dr: where are you in these true crime texts?

You may use work from previous assignments—in-class worksheets, live tweets, critical reflections, major assignments, etc—revised and adapted to this assignment. You may also use any of the sources previously used in your written work, but, as noted above, one of your primary texts must be something you did not write about in the previous two major assignments (the literature review and the definitional argument).

Technical requirements:

Final: minimum of six pages, double-spaced; worth 15%.

Format: MLA

Rubric for ARCHETYPE ANALYSIS Paper (20 points possible)

Content (4 points)

  • writer offers a thesis that is insightful and interesting, generated from a meaningful engagement with the material and original thought.
  • writer advances their argument using substantial close reading of primary texts and anecdotal evidence relevant to the claim.
  • writer grounds their argument and analysis in a clear understanding of scholarly, cultural, and historical context.

Complexity (4 points)

  • claims move beyond the obvious and avoid binary thinking.
  • primary and secondary sources are represented in their full complexity, without ignoring grey areas or aspects that are inconvenient for the argument being made.
  • personal experiences are integrated carefully and meaningfully into the argument, allowing for complexity and retrospective analysis.
  • writer acknowledges caveats and counterarguments in advancing their claims.

COHESION/Arrangement (4 points)

  • paper is grounded in a precise, complex claim which is stated early in the paper.
  • each paragraph makes a substantive contribution to the development of that claim.
  • writer moves smoothly from point to point.
  • personal experience is used in a precise way in combination with literary analysis and careful argumentation, not used for the sake of it or as meandering filler.

STYLE (4 points)

  • writing is dynamic, varied, fluid, and distinctive with an original voice and memorable phrases.
  • writer avoids subjective, hyperbolic, and imprecise phrasing.
  • writer introduces primary and secondary sources with helpful signal phrases and in a way that makes clear how these sources augment, challenge, or advance the claim being made.

Clarity (4 points)

  • writing is almost error free and easy to follow.
  • writer uses MLA format correctly.
  • essay seems polished and not rushed or thrown together.

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