Existentialism  (PL 210-001)


TR 2:00--3:20 pm

Arts Center 215



Instructor: Dr. Jason K. Swedene

Office location and phone number: Arts Center 223 (phone:  635-2122)

e-mail: jswedene@lssu.edu

Office Hours: see website



Required Texts:

Gordon Marino (ed.) Basic Writings of Existentialism (New York: Modern Library, 2004).

JP Sartre No Exit and Three Other Plays (NewYork: Vintage International, 1976).

Albert Camus The Stranger

Required Course Website:



Course Requirements:


1.       You must attend class regularly and participate in class activities.  A one-half letter grade reduction will follow the 3rd unexcused absence and each absence thereafter. 


2.       There will be two full-period exams and one partially-cumulative (~30 percent is review material) final exam.  Generally, exams are in short answer format.  Make-up tests are given only as warranted by circumstance (e.g.,  documented illness or documented family emergency) and as granted by instructor.  Each test is worth 20% of your grade.


3.       There will be one 7-10 page argumentative essay.  I will offer guidelines on how to write an appropriate argumentative essay, and I expect the papers to illustrate a degree of insight consistent with the intellectual maturity of a university student.  The paper is worth 20% of your grade.

4.   There will be 5 quizzes given at the end of class on days not foretold by instructor.  In short, these are open-book pop quizzes.  Sometimes the quizzes will be group quizzes, and these quizzes cannot be made up if you miss the class (or time) it was given.  Instructor will drop the lowest quiz grade.  Each counted quiz is worth 5% of your grade.


5.       Participation is not optional.  Learning philosophy is an exercise in evaluating others’ ideas as well as formulating one’s own ideas.  Both are essential.  Keeping up-to-date with both the readings and course handouts are considered aspects of class participation.  Taking notes on what others say in class is a good source of inspiration for critique. 


6.       “In compliance with Lake Superior State University policy and equal access laws, disability-related (learning, medical, physical, etc.) accommodations and services are available.  Students are to meet with their professor in a timely manner, preferably the first week of class, to discuss their accommodation needs. Students will not receive services until they register with the Resource Center for Students with Disabilities (RCSD).  Proper registration will enable the RCSD to verify the disability and determine reasonable academic accommodations.  RCSD is located in Library 101, ext. 2454.”


7.       Absence at a previous class is not an acceptable excuse for not completing assignments on time. 



Calculating the final grade:


TEST 1-                                                                       20 %

TEST 2-                                                                       20 %

TEST 3-                                                                       20 %

5-7 PAGE ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAY                    20 %

QUIZZES                                                                    20 %





Cheating Policy:

Any form of cheating or plagiarism will result in certain disciplinary action, which might include failure of specific project and/or failure of the complete course.  Cheating includes (but is not limited to) the use of any unauthorized assistance in taking quizzes, tests, or examinations; dependence upon the aid of sources beyond those authorized by the instructor in writing papers, preparing reports, solving problems, or carrying out other assignments; or, the acquisition, without permission, of tests or other academic material belonging to a member of college faculty or staff. Quotations must be used when the words are not your own and citations must accompany the use of others’ ideas, even if you paraphrase their wording.  Failure to do so is plagiarism.



-Supplemental Readings will be copied or linked as they become available and relevant to in-class discussion:
-Most reading, unless noted, are found in our edited text, 'Basic Writings of Existentialism.'

Fear and Trembling
The Sickness unto Death

Nietzsche (Quiz 1: Write 1 or 2 pages arguing your personal view of why this painting may be considered existentialist; You may not use any internet sources for this personal reflection; the painting is here )
On the Geneology of Morals

Notes from the Underground
Brothers Karamazov

Saint Manueal Bueno, Martyr

Being and Time

No Exit (from No Exit and Three other Plays)

De Beauvoir
The Ethics of Ambiguity

The Stranger (from his novel by that name)
The Myth of Sisyphus

Schedule for remainder of semester.  Please be on time:
APR 4: Camus's Stranger and Myth of Sisyphus
APR 6: DVD on Existentialism and Art (reading: Tillich)
APR 11: film
APR 13: film p. 2 and lecture
APR 18: paper due via email according to directions listed HERE; to be determined, either film or guest lecturer
APR 20: to be determined, either film or guest lecturer
APR 27: final exam: 12:30 pm BRING SCANTRON

Ralph Ellison
Invisible Man

Testing dates: First Exam (       ), Second Exam (March 28 ), Final Exam (check LSSU schedule)

Paper due date: on the last Tuesday of classes (by 2:00 pm): SUBMIT BY EMAIL ACCORDING TO THE DIRECTIONS LISTED HERE:  late penalties----10% per day