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A creative and thought provoking element to this class will include reflecting upon and writing about a specific mental illness in order to understand what it must be like for individuals who struggle with any of the specific disorders discussed in class. For this assignment, you will be required to compose a poem or a song (for you aspiring songwriters or music lovers) regarding the experience of a specific mental illness.
There is no required format or topic, as these are left entirely up to your own choosing and discretion. You may choose to be concrete or abstract, serious or humorous, or personal or theoretical, and you may describe the experience using first- or third-person pronouns. The poems do not need to be in a rhyming format. Anything goes!
However, you must have a poem that contains at least 300 words. Failure to meet the minimum word count will result in point loss.
In terms of grading, you will be judged primarily on content, rather than format or poetic language. However, be mindful that you must have a very clear understanding about the experience of the mental illness that you choose.
To earn an ‘A’, a poem must convey an excellent understanding (or be an excellent description) of anxiety, depression, psychosis, or some particular disorder (e.g., avoidant personality disorder). A ‘B’ grade is given to a poem that conveys a good understanding or description of the experience of mental illness. Some latitude is available for the evaluation of writing ability. For example, an adequate description of avoidant personality would earn a grade of B; an adequate description that is also well written (e.g., the poem’s lines contain the appropriate number of syllables for its rhyme scheme, and the poet’s choice of words is good) would earn a B+.
Please be aware that this is NOT a paper assignment and I do not want you to hand in an academic essay describing symptoms, treatment etc…This is your opportunity to understand mental illness in a less structured, creative and exploratory manner. You might want to talk to individuals you know who have struggled with mental illness, reflect on your own struggles or delve into case studies within the academic literature. I also suggest reading personal memoirs about these conditions. A number of books can be found at your local bookstore. Also, be aware that if you choose to explore a mental illness that we have not yet discussed in class, you will have to read that chapter and any other relevant material ahead of time. You can always set up a time to talk to me during office hours to clarify any confusing information.
I have always found it easier to tap into creative sources when I am feeling relaxed. The benefits of an elaborate dream, wonderful music, or a good film (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. (Links to an external site.) can help us escape the mundane and make us feel rejuvenated. All of us have the potential to be creative, even if you don’t write poetry, play an instrument, sing, dance or paint. Most importantly, attempt to free yourself of judgment regarding your creative abilities. Consider the various ways in which you want to be creative, and like a child allow yourself to play. Throw out the rules or what you know to define creativity and just imagine.
The entire assignment is worth 60 points. 30 of the points will come directly from the poem that you submit. The other 30 points are tied to your ability to meet the requirements stated for the poetry posts at 15 points each.
**Note: Attached part 1 and 2 of this assignment.**
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