HW12 due 1/27: Term Final (RETURN ALL NOVELS PLEASE)

Pay very close attention to the details!!!
1. Term Final–Final drafts due! You must also turn in your peer-edited first draft to earn credit for that draft! Write the name of your editor at the top of the page! Do not staple the first draft to the final draft; use a paperclip. I will be in Room B9, across from the college office from 10-3. You can either hand your term final (and peer-edited first draft) to me in person or leave it in my mail box. Do this before 3!

Detailed Breakdown of Term Final requirements





Any of the philosophical/psychoanalytical texts read this term (whether as a class or on your own as part of your group project research).  The context for the course is defined by those thinkers read whole class or those thinkers introduced to us through group presentations.  Some of the relevant names:

de Beauvoir

A context paper is a paper that examines text(s) in relation to the philosophical and/or psychoanalytical context complemented by literary criticism.  This requires complex and insightful understanding of the text(s), the context, and the lit crit.  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. Nausea) 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 two contextual sources establishing the philosophical/psychoanalytical foundation for your context paper.   I chose 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 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, Herman Hesse’s Steppenwolf illustrates

Heidegger’s belief that only when faced with morality is the holistic individual possible.


Through the Sartrean and Jungian lens, Herman Hesse’s Steppenwolf more accurately reflects the 20th century human condition where in the psychological state of the individual is affected from without and within and only upon death is Heidegger’s holistic individual realized.


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, if you reference the sample thesis posted on the board earlier last week, 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 to the body of the essay as a whole.

Lit Crit:  The onus is on me to locate two sources of lit crit to complement my context paper.  More on Lit Crit below.

The above is one possibility.  This context paper can be one of so many combinations.  You can do as I did above and use on text to illustrate an argument.  So options for the context paper include (but are not limited to as I am open to ideas):

  • Single text based discussion  (Use one text to illustrate an existential/psychoanalytical argument)
  • Theme based discussion (Exploring one of the course’s themes as seen across several texts)

A note on thesis creation for the context paper: It is wise to take an arguable position on the context and use the fiction to illustrate the argument.  As in my above example, my argument is built around Sartre, Jung and Heidegger.  I am using Steppenwolf because I feel it best illustrates my entire argument.

A note on literary criticism: The literary criticism should be an integral part of the conversation.  Meaning, its role in your essay should be more than simply a quotation that corresponds to the point you are making.  Your essay, and the way the lit crit is used in your essay, should reflect a keen understanding of the point of the lit crit article.

General Requirements:

  • 5-7 pages
  • 3 sources (two 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

Avoid the Following:

  • Avoid Pronouns: I, it, you, me, we, us
  • Avoid Troublesome language. DO NOT USE ANY of 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?
What is literary criticism?

Criticism: The study, analysis, interpretation, and history of literature. It is a dialog.

“Criticism asks what literature is, what it does, and what it is worth.” Encyclopedia Britannica

Literary criticism analyzes, interprets, and evaluates works of literature. Though you most often find criticism in the form of an essay, in-depth book reviews may also be considered criticism. Criticism may analyze an individual work of literature. It may also examine an author’s body of work.

Why use literary criticism?

Literary criticism is the act of interpreting literature.

Authors present us with work that can have multiple meanings, expecting us to consider thoughtfully–to interpret.   Writers and critics build on each others’ understanding of a work of literature in a kind of dialog.  Noted authors often have a body of criticism attached to their work.  Critics evaluate and debate the ideas of fellow critics.   Good criticism can help us develop a better understanding of a work.  It can help us develop a point of view about a work, whether or not we agree with the opinions of the critic.

As you work with literary criticism in your writing it is important that you incorporate your own reactions and points of view.

When looking for criticism, check for:

  • Credentials of the writer
  • Quality of the sources–journals, books, Websites

Opinions supported by evidence, relating to:

  • Characterization
  • Voice
  • Style
  • Theme
  • Setting
  • Technical qualities of the writing (artistry, style, use of language)
  • Interpretation
  • Complex ideas and problems
  • Relationship of work to the time, or social, historical, or political trends
  • Most importantly, relationship of work to the relevant philosophical or psychoanalytical contexts.

When looking for criticism, AVOID:

  • Plot summaries, SparkNotes, Pink Monkey, etc.
  • Casual posts on discussion groups
  • The works of other students
  • Author biography


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).

2. Please return any novels you may still have (take the post its out). 

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