FYS Paper One: Awakenings
Your first paper for me will be on the subject of “awakenings.” Socrates spoke about the greatest danger we can encounter as “living one’s life asleep.”
There are many factors that might keep one a sleepwalker in life. We just had a conversation about the possibility that as happy as we may be with our computers and smartphones we are also vulnerable to the sedating manipulations of the technology we have surrounded ourselves with. So, there's an example. We can also simply find it easier to be on auto-pilot, doing what's easiest for us, that causes the least stress for ourselves, our parents, our friends. We tend to settle for "jobs" rather than "vocations," these days and so you may be tempted to think of Pacific as a necessary hurdle to jump over to get to that job and "settle down," whatever that means....
I'd like to share with you a lecture I gave in the 90's about all of that. You may find there something that triggers your decision for a first FYS paper.
Address to Students and Faculty
Socrates thought of himself as a “gadfly,” someone buzzing around stinging others into consciousness. We talked about images from great literature like Dante’s Divine Comedy; how Dante had suddenly woken up from his own life as though he’d been in a dream realizing as he looked around for the first time that he was lost… the first step toward his salvation. Mr. Keating was a kind of gadfly with Todd, taking him straight to hell by embarrassing him in front of others, goading him and goading him until Todd loses his self-consciousness and yells out in frustration. Around and around he spins beneath the portrait of Walt Whitman until he finally breaks through to… poetry. We could have talked about Siddartha Gautama (the Buddha) who woke up when he insisted on seeing the world as it really is, not how his family had set it up to seem for him behind the safe walls of his home. So WAKING UP, this is your over-arching theme for paper number one.
Plato’s Cave suggests that “education” just IS… a way of talking about the one thing necessary for becoming truly human; an awakening, with all of the risks that go with owning your own life.
You can use any of our resources to write a paper about this subject. I'll talk with you individually as well. Find a thesis and defend it. For example we asked this question: “Is Mr. Keating responsible for Neil’s death?” Someone could write a paper using illustrations from Plato’s Cave, Persepolis, Dante’s Inferno (Canto 1), etc. to argue that Neil’s “awakening” either led him into a fulfillment of his life, albeit a short one, or messed his head up leading to nothing but tragedy and waste.
Got the idea? Here is a sample paper from FYS a couple of years ago. It is NOT this assignment, but it is an example of a nicely written paper for a class like this.
SAMPLE FYS PAPER FROM 2014
Here is a paper on SULA that shows some pretty good writing as well. Thanks, Katie. SULA
And here's another SULA paper. Thanks, Kalina. SULA2
Here is a sample opening paragraph for the sort of paper I like to see students write: SAMPLE
Resources as I see it:
- Dead Poets Society
- The FYS lecture I gave in 1991
- Amusing Ourselves to Death (if you want to write about technology)
- Plato’s Cave
- Your own paradigmatic events
- Etc., etc., etc., etc.
DUE DATE: Monday, October 10th