Existential Literature PBA Guidelines

Literature and the Human Condition
PBA/Term Final Guidelines (Click link for Word Doc)

Contents of PBA include:

Context Paper: Final Draft due 06/05
05/18–Thesis Statement
05/21–Detailed Outline (Including lit crit and contextual sources): Outline should detail each topic sentence as well as detail how each body paragraph will be developed (Including how will context source material and/or lit crit contribute to development of point)
05/28–First Draft
06/05–Final Draft

Creative Project Final: Due 05/15
Insight Paper: Due 05/15

Detailed Breakdown of PBA requirements


Any of the philosophical/psychoanalytical texts read this term. The context for the course is defined by those thinkers read whole class or those thinkers discovered during research. Some of the relevant names (You are not limited to this list):

de Beauvoir

A context paper is a paper that examines a text(s) in relation to a philosophical and/or psychoanalytical context. This requires complex and insightful understanding of the text(s) and the context. This essay is not your typical literary analysis (i.e. exploring an author’s use of irony to inform her social satire). You are analyzing the whole (i.e. Steppenwolf) or the treatment of a theme (i.e. Death) in relation to the context of the course, exploring the nature of the relationship between the context and the fiction. To be clear, consider that the following could be a valid context paper for this course:
Text: Steppenwolf
Context: Sartre, Jung, Heidegger
Important to note here: You should have three contextual sources establishing the philosophical/psychoanalytical foundation for your context paper. I chose these three because I will need the above three “thinkers” to lay the groundwork for my belief that the human condition is more accurately considered once the existential and psychoanalytical theories of Sartre and Jung are combined. I am relying on Heidegger to establish the themes of the holistic individual and dying. So the essence of man is forced upon our conscious state (existentialism meets psychoanalysis) when he comes to terms with his transience. I would use the contextual marriage above to discuss Steppenwolf (my suggestion being that Steppenwolf illustrates a marriage of the three “thinkers” above ultimately more holistically representing the human condition).
So a sample thesis may be:
Through the Sartrean and Jungian lens, Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf illustrates
Heidegger’s belief that only when faced with morality is the holistic individual possible.
Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf accurately reflects the 20th century human condition wherein societal conventions affect the psychological state of the individual from without and within and only upon death is Heidegger’s holistic individual realized. (Context: Jung, Sartre, and Heidegger)
(Note: You do not have to reference the Contextual sources in your thesis as that may be established in the introduction.)

First Sentence of Intro should follow one of the following forms:
1. Author + text + theme (i.e. Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf illustrates the embodied manifestation of 20th Century humanity’s psychological and spiritual deconstruction.)
2. Contextual introduction (i.e. The 20th Century introduced scientific and theological threats to humanity’s psychological and spiritual makeup.)
Your introductory paragraph must not be neglected. Its primary responsibility is to construct the frame through which the reader will view your discussion. If the frame is improperly constructed, the window will collapse and your discussion will be compromised. So, allow your thesis to give birth to the intro just as it gives birth to the body of your essay. So, in the sample thesis above you will see references to Sartre, Jung, and Heidegger. I also mention the 20th Century human condition. The body of my essay will marry the contextual sources of Sartre and Jung to Heidegger, so I feel my intro should establish this concept of the human condition and its progressive complication since the 18th Century in the West. Why? Because ultimately I am suggesting that the human condition of the 20th Century is different as threats from “without” are more prevalent to our being. So, my intro builds up not only to my thesis but also to the body of the essay as a whole.
A note on thesis creation for the context paper: Ultimately your argument is in answer to the question: What is Hesse’s commentary on the human condition? So, my argument is born out of Steppenwolf and it is philosophically shaped and supported by Sartre, Jung and Heidegger.
General Requirements:
• 6-8 pages
• 4 sources (three of the contextual variety and one of the lit crit variety)

General Formatting:
• Double-spaced; size 12 font; Times New Roman or similar
• .75 margins on both left and right sides. Justify margin. Indentations– .5” or 1 tab space.
• All pages beyond the first page should be numbered. Page numbers should be placed at the bottom right of each page.
• No Cover Page. Include name, date, class/band, teacher
• Be sure TITLE reflects the theme of the essay
• Include Title, Author, and General Theme of work in first paragraph of essay…For Example—Jean Paul Sartre’s Nausea
• Follow MLA guidelines
Order of Arrangement:
• Final Draft on top. Staple or fasten with a paperclip.
• 1st Draft—with significant corrections made + name and signature of reader
• Detailed Outline
Avoid the Following:
• Avoid Pronouns: I, it, you, me, we, us
• Avoid Troublesome language. Try to avoid or avoid completely the following words: it, these, this, those, kind of, almost, seems, maybe, like, then, later, eventually, basically, so, many, a lot, things, due to the fact (or any variations of the fact that), in reality, very, really, forms of the verb “to be”
• In the intro, nix all book-review commentary—i.e. “is fascinating, interesting…”
• Be extremely careful with your use of all words…yet, for these words in particular, don’t think they are cheap: Truth, Beauty, Love, Nature, Reality
• Avoid gross existential generalizations; remember, we learned early on that to come to a set definition of existentialism would be difficult if not impossible. Remember, the various existential schools of thought—those whom we’ve covered (i.e. Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Schopenhauer, Sartre, Dostoyevsky) and those whom we have had briefly touched on in précis presentations (i.e. Jaspers, de Beauvoir, Heidegger, Camus, etc.). These individuals help to define our context, so once again, avoid the generalizations.
Keys to Good Writing:
• Cohesion—Every sentence fits together; paragraphs flow smoothly. Ensure that the entire discussion comes together as one unified discussion of your text and its context.
• Concision—Less is more. Use fewer words to explain yourself. Begin fusing sentences by merging ideas into tightly knit phrases.
• Precision—Accuracy. Use words that accurately capture what you mean. Don’t settle for words or expressions that come close.
• Coherence—Does your essay make sense? Are your ideas organized in a logical sequence? Do you prove your thesis? Do the parts contain the essence of the whole?

I want to address this issue right off the bat. At Beacon, we follow the MLA guidelines. In terms of plagiarism, this means:

Scholarly authors generously acknowledge their debts to predecessors by carefully giving credit to each source. Whenever you draw on another’s work, you must specify what you borrowed whether facts, opinions, or quotations and where you borrowed it from. Using another person’s ideas or expressions in your writing without acknowledging the source constitutes plagiarism. Derived from the Latin plagiarius (“kidnapper”), plagiarism refers to a form of intellectual theft. In short, to plagiarize is to give the impression that you wrote or thought something that you in fact borrowed from someone, and to do so is a violation of professional ethics.

(Joseph Gibaldi, MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing. 2nd. ed, New York: MLA, 1998: 151).

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