Double-spaced, 5-7 pages (approximately 1500 words). Write your name, the name of the class, topic number, and the title of your topic at the top of the page. (See the "Paper Writing Guidelines." You may use footnotes, endnotes, or parenthetical notation to indicate page numbers for textual references. A general rule of thumb: If you have one main idea in a paragraph, and you are indebted to some outside source - readings, lectures - then one reference will help the reader to check for accuracy and fairness should a question arise). Some of the paper topics are designed around a dialogue or a creative, imaginative situation. Referencing your ideas for these topics is just as important as for more conventional topics. Be sure include direct quotations and/or page references from the readings relevant to your chosen topic in developing the body of your paper.
Due on Canvas, Thursday, March 10 by 9:00 p.m., or Monday, March
14 by 9:00 p.m. via attendance in class on Wednesday, March 9.
Be sure to write your name, the name of the class, the title of your topic, and the TOPIC NUMBER at the top of the page.
You may write on your own topic if you wish. However, you must: 1) Submit a one-paragraph description by email to the instructor. 2) You must submit your topic by Wednesday, March 7. 3) You must obtain approval from the instructor.
I also strongly encourage you to read the essays on my Writing web pages, especially "Four Keys to Writing in the Humanities," "Paper Writing Guidelines," "Checklist for Papers," and "Writing: The Bridge between Consciousness and Unconsciousness."
TOPICS A (Select one of the following topics)
6. Discuss at least two or three possible interpretations of Jacob's Ladder (link to screenplay): As a classical Christian allegory of fall, penance, faith in atonement, and redemption; as a Buddhist allegory of the bardo the intermediate space between physical death and the realization of the clear light of awakening, as told in the Tibetan Book of the Dead; or as a Judaic tale of Jacob who ascends to heaven after giving his earthly inheritance to Esau. Discuss both the strengths and weaknesses of the two or three interpretations you select. (Here is a link to the Biblical episode of Jacob's Ladder.) Is there an objectively correct interpretation? Does the film require the active participation or contribution of the viewer to complete the experience? If so, then what does that tell us about "objective reality"?
7. Select two thinkers we read for this course; compare and contrast how they might define the meaning of spiritual freedom. Include in your discussion how they would define the relation between spiritual freedom on the one hand and economic and political freedom on the other.
8. Near Death. You have a terminal case of
liver cancer. Several months have passed since the diagnosis and now
the end is near. Your lover/partner is far away and is unable to
share this time with you, caught in a foreign land with an invalid
passport. You are writing a letter to your lover/partner expressing
what the past has meant to you, what you have learned as you
struggled with the illness and impending death, and how you now see
life and death. Write this letter drawing on the works we have read.
You may combine insights from more than one text if you like, but it
is recommended that you restrict your sources to two or three
sources and not try to do too much.
9. Relate what you wrote about in your first
paper to two or three texts/thinkers/films we have read in the
course. Include at least one film and one text. Also, if you wrote
about a similar topic for any of your previous paper, be sure to
discuss at least one book or article that you have not previously
written about. Examine how these texts/thinkers have changed or
affected the views and/or experiences of the relationship between
inner darkness and society. What are some points in these
texts/thinkers that may be problematic or that trouble you?
10. Scenario: You have just suffered a loss in a relationship (death of family or friend; breakup of friendship, romance, or marriage). Somehow, this loss has led you to think about the dark side of the self in a way different from before. There is a mentor in your life who is currently overseas, and you wish to communicate the difficulty of the loss, what you have learned through this loss about the dark side as well as possible illumination (currently unfolding or peeking through on the horizon).
Drawing on two or three of the texts/films we studied in this course, write a letter that describes your reflections and communicates your learning process to your mentor. Include as part of your reflections at least one paragraph about the significance of listening deeply (to others, to your own inner voice, to the deeper currents of life).
For topics 8 & 10, you should write the the
paper in a normal "letter" tone, as if you were really writing a
letter. However, you still need to include page references and
citations for ideas from the readings and films, and you can work in
more distanced or academic reflections by using direct quotations or
by setting them off in the letter, using rhetorical devices: "I
remember reading . . . ," "When I was in college we studied . . ."
and so forth.
11. Compare and contrast the view of nature and
society as found in Antonia's
Line and the Zhuangzi.
One theme that is present in the film but not in the Daoist
classic is sexuality. Address the effect, if any, that this
difference has on the understanding of nature and society in the two
sources. Be sure to discuss which character's views you are
presenting in any particular discussion of Antonia's
you are free to cite the views of multiple characters. Be
sure to provide page and/or direct quotation references from the Zhuangzi.
12. Antonia's Line. Write a series of letters between Celie from The Color Purple and one of the main female characters from Antonia's Line concerning the relationship between religion, spirituality, sexuality, and gender. In addition, include an exchange on the issue of race (It may be interesting to show some tension between the two letter writers on this point, but you are not required to do so). In these exchanges show how the letter writers' views each evolve over the course of the years. Be sure to provide page numbers and/or direct quotations from The Color Purple, and as much as possible specific scene refernces from Antonia's Line in composing your exchange of letters.
TOPIC B (In selecting this topic, you can build on your story throughout the course, adding new sections to your story each time.)
RELATE TO YOUR PREVIOUS PAPERS. You are not required but may
use your first paper as inspiration. Do continue the story from your
second and third papers.