HW due 4/18: Steppenwolf and More

1. Steppenwolf–Read and annotate up to p. 164. (Stop with “Tonight at the Magic Theater”).

PBA: First Two Components

1. Creative Final!

Due Date: May 12th

  • You have an option of doing either a written or visual piece.
  • Your subject: The human condition/existentialism
  • Your angle: The subject as communicated by those whom we’ve read or the subject as seen entirely through your unique, subjective lens (perhaps a complement to your insight paper).
  • Your means of communication: Written (short story or play; approximately 10 pages) or Visual (or a combination of the two)… In deciding between written or visual, you should choose the one that will allow you the best opportunity for creative success here. Note, only choose the visual route if your visual will be nothing short of extraordinary 🙂 and the same goes for the written route…
  • In short, your creative piece presents you with another means through which to communicate an understanding of this course.

To earn an A on the Creative Project, your project must:

  • Entice audience with original, innovative and daring use of ideas, images, language, plot and various literary or visual devices
  • Demonstrate a clear purpose that is accessible to the audience
  • Demonstrate expert use of literary and/or artistic form and devices
  • Demonstrate powerful use of sensory images
  • Demonstrate excellent effort and profundity

Artist’s statement:

Why did you choose to represent this piece in this way? Here discuss the technical decisions in creating your image (i.e. lighting, composition, etc.)

How does the creation of art make you feel? What emotions do you wish to convey? Here, you also connect the image back to the course (textual connection, thematic connection, etc). Discuss how your creative project is thematically relevant. What message are you trying to convey to the viewer/reader?

2. Insight Paper

Due Date: May 19th




  1. a penetrating understanding, as of a complex situation or problem
  2. the ability to perceive clearly or deeply the inner nature of things

Students are required to write an essay responding to the following question: If you could choose a single insight to represent what you learned in this course this semester, what would it be? Choose a specific subject explored this term (i.e. suffering, love, identity, etc) and in concise, conceptual terms explore that subject from your perspective. Present this insight and explain it in such a way that an uninitiated reader can understand and appreciate it.   In terms of style, present your insight as Schopenhauer might present his philosophy in his collection of aphorisms. The insight essay should be 2-4 pages in length, single spaced.

The following remarks concerning the content of the essays may help clarify the insight question:

  1. An insight is an idea, and, as such, it can (and should) be articulated in a sentence. “My insight is . . . ” It is not a feeling. It is not a state of being, like having an open mind. It is not a directive, such as “always question everything.” It may involve these. Sample insights include: “It is important to have an open mind because . . .” and “It is important to question everything because . . .”
  1. Insights are somewhat personal; what is insightful to one person may be patently obvious to another, or another might be oblivious as to why the insight is insightful. Thus, while I am concerned with what your insight is, I am more concerned with your response to the last part of the assignment: “explain [your insight] in such a way that an uninitiated reader can understand and appreciate it.”
  1. Your answer should be put in conceptual terms; I am not asking why your insight is personally important to you. These essays should not be autobiographies. Do not write about what kind of person you always were and why you are different now. Insights deal with how we understand the world and ourselves; though they do have an impact on who we are—what we think influences how we act—essays should focus on the conceptual level. I want to see some thinking, not merely emoting, asserting or opining. Consider many of the essays we have read this year to get a sense of communicating the conceptual.
  1. Essays must focus on a single insight. A list of things learned in the class is inappropriate. It is unnecessary to recount the journey through the course. Also, if you must spend time explaining how your insight was formed over time, do this briefly. Simply state your insight in an introductory paragraph and then get to the business of explaining it. Be sure to state your insight in clear and explicit terms.

Additional thoughts on the insight paper:

The insight paper in simplest form is the marriage of your insight and the human condition. More simply, your view of the human condition. While the context paper is rooted in the literature and is scholarly in nature, the insight paper is rooted in you (born from within).

An insight paper may focus on the subjective nature of meaning and the self, or death and life being synonymous, or the individual in relation to the crowd, or the dehumanizing effects of time, or the dehumanizing nature of society, or love as a means to tolerate suffering, or the beauty of the multifaceted self, or suffering as a necessary means to happiness, or the absurdity of absurdity, etc. etc. etc. The point here is that when thinking of the insight paper, the options are practically limitless as long as you are thinking human condition.

I expect the insight paper to be meaningful, perhaps even more meaningful than the context paper, as it reflects you, your self, your soul, your being, your view of the human condition. Yes, in these additional thoughts it seems I have made the requirements even more personal. That would be an astute observation. This more personal angle on the insight paper is to help those of you who may have been struggling. Caveat: if you have already started your insight paper based upon the original guidelines, no worries.

Remember to present this insight and explain it in such a way that an uninitiated reader can understand and appreciate it. This means provide any necessary contextual framework (i.e. referencing Steppenwolf when discussing the multifaceted self as opposed to the unified self or referencing Kierkegaard when discussing the individual).

Print Friendly, PDF & Email