Two papers of approximately six pages in length are required.

You can use any of these topics, reformulate them, or formulate your own. If you come up with a topic radically different from any of the proposed, you might want to check the topic out with the teacher's assistant.

Whatever you choose to do, you are required to make strong use of the course materials, either to contest the point of view or arguments of those sources, or to bolster your own arguments.

Your name should not appear anywhere on your paper (only your ID #). Papers are graded blind.

Please look at the document "Writing a Paper for Me" (PDF) for more guidelines.

Student examples appear courtesy of an MIT student, and are used by permission.

Paper 1 Topics

  1. Formulate an argument between Peck and Lawrence on the nature of love. You might want to draw on Nygren.
  2. Is there a significant difference between romantic love as presented in the Tristan and Isolde myth (and perhaps in Casablanca) and Lawrence's view of sexual love. Put another way, is Lawrence's view a mere romanticization of sex?
  3. Is Peck merely presenting a humanized version of agape (as Nygren presents it)? If so, is this an adequate view of human love, from the point of view both of the giver and receiver?
  4. Can a convincing synthesis of "love as feeling" and "love as action/intention" be constructed? I'm looking for a true organic (or at least mechanical) relationship between the two, not paper-clipping them to each other and calling it love.
  5. Formulate the argument that Lee and George on one side, and Lawrence on the other would have.

Student example: Head over "Feels" in Love: The Emerging Synthesis of "Love as Feeling" and "Love as Intention." (PDF)

Paper 2 Topics

  1. What would play the relationship is between the eros in Lawrence and eros in Rumi?
  2. Buber has very little to say about 'love', per se. If we take his whole philosophy as a philosophy of love, flesh out what that philosophy is, tell me which of the major categories it falls into (or if it doesn't fit in any category).
  3. Do a careful textual exegesis of The Symposium.
  4. Do a careful textual exegesis of I and Thou.
  5. What is the relationship between love and beauty? Draw on Plato, Rumi, The Piano, and any other texts we have read.

Student example: Adios to Eros, Away with Agape: Philia as the Highest Form of Love. (PDF)