Final Essay: Paper Topics
1. Augustine’s Confessions is a story that contains other stories within it. Why does Augustine’s story include the stories of other people, some of whom also tell stories? Select one or two stories within the Confessions that are not directly about Augustine, and show their relation to the story that Augustine is telling about himself. Make sure that your opening paragraph contains (a) a clear statement of what your overarching provocative, interesting claim is; (b) a description of the three or four steps that the rest of your paper will follow as it develops and demonstrates its overarching, provocative, interesting claim. The paper should be 5-6 pages, 1 or 1.25” margins, standard font, double spaced.
2. Taking Seneca’s Letters as a model, write two letters in the Senecan style. (Each letter should be about three pages, 1 or 1.25” margins, standard font, double spaced.) Address both letters to a Baylor student who has never had the privilege of taking GTX 2301. The first letter will draw from Seneca’s Letters from a Stoic. The second will take its inspiration from some aspect of Augustine’s Confessions. You may occasionally quote from the texts of Augustine and Seneca—just as Seneca himself occasionally quotes other authors—but the bulk of each letter should reflect your own attempt to persuasively set out the teaching that you take your addressee to stand most in need of hearing.
3. Dichotomy Coffee and Spirits has recently opened at 508 Austin Avenue. Imagine that Seneca and Augustine have been resurrected. Blundering around town, they discover Dichotomy and end up sitting at the same table. What do have to say to each other? Write a dialogue of 5-6 pages (1 or 1.25” margins, standard font, double spaced) between Augustine and Seneca. Focus on a specific topic or question (or a small number of interconnected topics or questions) that you have discovered both the Letters from a Stoic and the Confessions to address. The dialogue should give the reader a vivid idea of what is at stake. It should display both where each thinker powerfully agree with one another, and where they are at odds. Use footnotes to indicate which part of the text you are drawing from. Both Augustine and Seneca may occasionally quote themselves, as it were—but do not merely juxtapose quotations from the texts. Rather, construct two characters and have them speak convincingly.
A printed copy of your work is due in the office of Ms. Jill Joos, the GTX administrative assistant, at 3 pm on December 10. No paper will be accepted after December 10.
The syllabus discourages you from consulting secondary sources. Here I am going further—do not consult any secondary sources, whether on the Internet or anywhere else, without my written permission. This essay is to be solely the product of your own reading of Seneca and Augustine, and reflection thereon.