400-Level Philosophy: Jung's Analytical Psychology (Writing-Intensive)

SCULPTING PHILOSOPHICAL THINKING: THE WRITING IS THE MEANING

I spend more time teaching about writing and teaching with writing because this is a WI course. We'll have discussions of style. I'm comfortable with this style of teaching writing approach because it is an extension of teaching philosophy. If the students can perceive that writing and philosophy are indeed related to the world, then philosophy is alive. If they have passion for the text, this goes a long way. I'm concerned that my own students develop a concern and passion for writing.-- Professor Graham Parkes

While writing my first paper, I was very inspired by the reading material. The professor allowed and encouraged us to freely interpret the material which is highly unusual. By allowing my own interpretations of the material, I was motivated to read many outside sources which expanded my knowledge greatly. -- Student

COURSE GOALS

Students explore Jungian concepts mainly through analyses of Jung's writing, critical interpretations of other philosophers, and cinematic films. The emphasis in the course is to help students develop an awareness of and sensitivity to Jungian concepts and their political, social, economic, philosophical implications. Student writing is the primary method for clarifying ideas, arguing a position, and discovering new perspectives.
The thing that I liked about Dr. Parkes' methods is that he gives you a lot of freedom. No specific structure articulated. He wants to see what we come up with and not try to determine particular perspectives or methods or structure of the paper. He's real big on individual identity and creativity . . . My feeling was now I can write what I really want to write about, what is most interesting to me . . . He doesn't give rigid structure but he demands good writing. He encourages us to dig into whatever we're reading, so I feel safe to explore. I ended up writing on my own during and after the course, over 200 pages of comments. Even though I wrote papers for the class, there were a lot of spurious thoughts -- what I read about this and that -- I couldn't put in the papers so I ended up writing in my notebook and typing it all up.--Student

WRITING ACTIVITIES
1. ANALYTICAL ESSAYS ON FILM
Students view four cinematic films (e.g. Fellini's Juliet of the Spirits) throughout the semester, read the film scripts, and discuss any themes and symbols related to the required reading (Jung's The Essential Jung, Hillman's Revisioning Psychology, and some of Dr. Parkes' published works). After class discussions, students are strongly encouraged to select their own topics and write four essays, usually 2-3 pages long, regarding any Jungian aspect suggested by the films and supported in the reading. Essays are submitted to the instructor for his feedback and may be revised for a better grade.
PURPOSE:The essay writing demonstrates a student's understanding of philosophical concepts. The fact that a student is encouraged to select his/her own topic allows the student to write more "passionately" and meaningfully. Writing serves the student as a tool for learning, as a process for thinking, and a place to rehearse philosophical writing. No specific structure for the essay is articulated by the professor; rather, the method or structure is determined by the content and development of ideas. The student is responsible for determining the most effective structure and organization of content.

2. FINAL PAPER

The major assignment, 10-15 pages long, is the student's discussion of a specific Jungian concept he/she selects. Students conduct their own reading or seek help from the instructor for a suggested reading list. They are required to meet with the instructor to discuss the appropriateness of the topic and to discuss a preliminary draft or detailed outline. The final assignment is submitted at the end of the course, evaluated by the instructor, then returned to the student.

PURPOSE: The longer paper allows students to explore more extensively a specific concept of personal interest. The student's particular perspectives, framework for argument, and writing style are critical elements of the final paper. If the shorter essays are writing "rehearsals" of a student's understanding of Jungian concepts, the final paper becomes a "scholarly" performance by the student, not only to develop a cohesive argument for his/her interpretation, but also to write in the discourse and style expected of philosophical writing.

3. DREAM JOURNALS

In context of the philosophical nature of the subconscious and the imagination, students record their dreams in a journal. Students may discuss any interpretations and implications of their dreams and the connection with Jungian concepts. Dream journals are collected by the professor at the end of the course, leafed through only
cursorily so as not to invade privacy, and returned to students.
PURPOSE: The uncensored quality of the dream journals helps the students articulate their visual impressions, apply course concepts to their own dreams, and propose symbolic interpretations. The instructor's respect for students' privacy liberates students from an authoritative reading and encourages students to practice analysis in a non-threatening way. Students learn that writing for themselves not only leads to personal reflection, but can also provide content for the film analysis essays, class discussions and final assignment.
Our dream journals related directly to the course. I never thought that it was helping the writing but now I can see how trying to articulate all the symbolism in the dream probably helped me with the material. Sometimes I found the content of my journal creeping into my movie papers and in the class discussions. --Student

RELATED ACTIVITIES

1. STUDENT-INSTRUCTOR CONFERENCES

Conferences with students occur frequently throughout the semester.
Before students are committed to writing an initial draft of the film analysis essays or the final
assignment, they discuss topics in class, and with the instructor's help in the conference, focus on specific issues. Students also receive instructor feedback on their drafts -- e.g., cohesiveness of the argument, organization, the conventions of philosophical writing.

PURPOSE: Frequent opportunities for personal conferences establishes a positive instructor-student relationship. In philosophy, deriving a specific writing topic and attentiveness to the use of language, particularly writing style and clear prose, are best discussed with individuals. Students can immediately ask questions about their writing and receive assistance.

2. INSTRUCTOR-FEEDBACK ON REVISION

Students are taught a variety of methods to help them with their writing.
The instructor provides examples of his own writing process, from sketchy notes to drafts to published pieces, and discusses at length the development of ideas and his notion of effective prose. Occasionally the instructor models of student writing acquired from previous courses and explains the strengths and weaknesses of the writing samples.
Most often the instructor provides feedback written directly on the student's draft. For example, a
wavy line drawn under words or phrases indicates an awkward, unclear usage or ideas which need to be rephrased. The instructor sometimes provides marginal comments to clarify the wavy lines, or the instructor suggests alternatives.

I was intrigued by one of the course topics and this motivated me to write a criticism of it for my second paper. I decided to include dialogue and sketches, something I had not done before with a philosophy paper. I took this gamble because I knew Professor Parkes would allow it and because he is one of the few people who would offer concrete criticism. I think this paper turned out to be one of my finest works to date. --Student

The instructor also encourages students to prepare outlines with Roman numerals and
subheadings for longer papers such as the end-of-semester assignment. He suggests that students keep a working outline as they draft long essays -- a map to guide them in their thesis development and to help them review what has already been drafted. The outline is flexible and should be revised as they work with the body of the paper. He also suggests that students should not agonize over the introduction prematurely, instead, review the introduction after a draft is completed. The introduction can then be revised to reflect the direction of the paper.
In addition to instructor-feedback, he reminds students that they should exchange papers with one another and provide peer feedback. Or students can talk informally with a peer, preferably in another discipline, explaining their understanding of a philosophical concept. These conversations can be tape-recorded and function as references as the essays are drafted.
PURPOSE: The expectations of good philosophical writing are emphasized by the instructor's careful attention to the crafting and sculpting of writing. He draws suggestions for drafting and revising from his own experience as a writer, from examples provided by other students, and from good philosophical writing. Although the final pieces of
writing are read primarily by the instructor, students are encouraged to seek other students unfamiliar with philosophical terms and conventions, and to talk aloud their ideas before and during the writing. This verbalization is one way of making meaning for themselves and discovering more connections.
He always stretches and knocks us off kilter, like if somebody brings up a question in class, he says -- What does that mean then? He challenges us . . . he wants you to be very open-minded. Sometimes I think we convince him of our thinking. I don't know if he had thought that before, but he's open to our ideas but also asks us "what about this?" or "what about that?" He wants us to say why we think what we do and what does that imply about politics, about philosophy.--Student

Professor Parkes comments on his class (excerpts from an interview):
We do a fair amount of reading, but the main emphasis is on slow and careful attention to the text. I always stress multiple readings -- they have to read and re-read. I choose texts that are well-written and that is itself part of the writing component -- that one learns to write by attending carefully to the readings. They're usually reading more difficult material than they're used to. Mainstream philosophy courses set up a rather narrow paradigm of what constitutes good philosophical writing. Features concerning clarity, organization, logical progression. Usually the kinds of texts we're reading have another agenda or other aims far more rhetorical, imaginative, or literary. I'm also hoping that students will learn to cultivate that side of their writing.
I take a biographical approach to writing because I have spent an inordinate amount of my waking life at the word processor or going over my own text. I tell them I'm not an expert nor a writing teacher, but that I spend more time than almost anyone I know trying to write well. If the course succeeds, it succeeds partially because some of my enthusiasm rubs off on the students . . . .But I say to them: let's try to find out prose that's worthy of emulation, distinguished, because I think students nowadays read an overwhelming amount of bad writing of which only 5% is worth publishing. I try to have students read good prose and I tell them this will improve their own writing in the long run.
How do I know what they've understood? They write papers. The writing is inevitably part of the goal -- that their writing will be able to convey to an intelligent reader, me, that they have understood the issues. . . . One of the subgoals is a little training in the scholarship in the mechanics of the library. What it means to research. . . . I am concerned with scholarship as a literary activity. . . . I'm interested in what they think; but as we are in this relationship in class, and until we've got the first part of our task accomplished, namely that they have conveyed to me they understand a concept or theory, I'm not so interested in what they personally think. I'm interested in, for example, Schopenhauer's theory of the will or interested in the situation in the world. This is something peculiar to philosophy classes because one is dealing with what is subjective and what is objective. I sometimes put on reserve some things I have written on Schopenhauer or Nietzsche and point out to them that the first person singular is not used at all. What is important is not the personal opinions of the writer but whether the ideas work, or the ways the world is. That's why it's important to be reflective about writing "I." It takes a while to write ,and what it takes above all is that reflection, that moment, that something that as I'm constantly writing I'm always reflecting on it too. . .
This mixing of metaphors . . . you hear it all over. It comes through totally unreflectively. The idea is try to get a bell to ring or a light bulb to go on every time they're using a metaphor. Is this the right one? The best one? Is it really appropriate to what I'm saying? How does it fit in with the next one in the next thought and the others in the paper? They're so unreflective about that. If they can cultivate the light bulb going on, I think they've come a long way because then they're thinking as they're writing. Especially in philosophy. That's the kind of clarity I'm aiming at, not a conceptual argumentative one, but the clarity of imagery that is reflected upon.