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Urban Legends

Urban Legends

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Urban Legends

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  1. Urban Legends

  2. Do-Now: What is an urban legend? Can you think of any examples?

  3. Urban Legends • (n.) a modern story of obscure origin and with little or no supporting evidence that spreads spontaneously in varying forms and often has elements of humor, moralizing, or horror

  4. Why would anyone study urban legends? • Dr. Jan Harold Brunvand says, “To reveal the motivations, hopes, dreams, fears, etc. of the people among whom these traditions circulate. The history of particular themes and plots in urban legends is itself a fascinating study, but behind it all is the wish to learn more about the human sources and carriers of the lore” (

  5. Urban Legend Components They are often complete stories with plot and characters containing elements of mystery, horror, fear, & sometimes humor Tend to involve a distant connection (a friend of a friend) Must be somewhat believable Often serve as cautionary tales for children Often involve some kind of moral or warning Tend to validate common fears in society.

  6. Examples Alligators in the sewers of NYC. Kidney thieves Killer in the back seat Pop-Rocks & soda Making funny faces Bloody Mary Babysitter & Phone Stalker Escaped killer with a hook

  7. Assignment: • You will harness all of your creative energy and write your own urban legend under the following criteria: • must be a complete narrative with a complete beginning, middle, and end • must contain at least two of the following elements: mystery, fear, horror, and humor • must be cautionary or contain a moral (a warning or a lesson) • must have some distance in association from the narrator (i.e. “It happened to my best friend’s cousin’s nephew’s ex-wife’s college roommate.” or “it happened in Cucamonga Valley, CA.”) • 2 pages typed, MLA format.

  8. Grading • Quality of narrative • Plot is complete (beginning, middle, and end): 20 points • Plot is focused and does not deviate from its purpose: 10 points • Language is clear and accessible: 10 points • Urban Legend Elements • Use of mystery, horror, fear, humor (minimum of 2): 15 points • Distant connection to narrator: 5 points • Clear warning or moral: 20 points

  9. Advice: • Look closely at the details of the urban legend of Boo Radley. If you write a localized urban legend this will be very useful. • Think of your own fears and common fears in today’s society, choose one, and give people a “real” reason to fear it. • When creating a tale of mystery or suspense, it is important to withhold and carefully ration out plot details. Keep the reader in the dark for as long as possible to hold their attention and intensify their uneasiness and fear.

  10. Closure: • What is the moral of the Boo Radley urban legend?