Course materials, workshops, lectures, and resources


Seattle University

901 12th Ave, P.O. Box 222000, Seattle, WA 98122 -1090
Dept. of Communication

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friedrich wanderer above the mists

Solitude gives birth to the original in us,
to beauty and perilous—to poetry.
                                                 (Tomas Mann)

This website contains curriculum materials, workshop/lectures, resources that I have developed for a course entitled, “Restorative Solitude.” This is an upper-level multidisciplinary course. Workshops and lectures are also available. Your feedback on this material is greatly appreciated. If you use ideas presented on this website, please cite the author(s). Feel free to email me to discuss this course and innovative workshops.


Please write a 1 page proposal (including title) for your major course project. Include 1) description, 2) rational—why important or relevant, 3) how you are going to develop this project.

ASSIGNMENT #2: REFLECTIONS ON COURSE & WRITINGS: CONTEMPLATE AND WRITE 1/2 page for each of the following questions:
1) After reading Koch, how would you respond when someone asks, "Can you have solitude in a crowd?  And/or "Do you need to be alone to achieve solitude?"
2) What do you see as the key difference between "disengagement" and "engaged disengagement?"
3) In a short paragraph, in your own words -- can you articulate the difference between solitude and the other "near relations?"  (for example, any underlying distinctions?)
4) From Koch and Barbour: Identify all possible functions/values of solitude; provide a 2 sentence summary for each in your own words. (e.g. attunement)


You are to keep a log for all your media usages for the week. This includes: internet, email, social networking, cell phone, land phone, text messaging, television, radio. I want you to record time of day/how long/emotions before/during/after the engagement. Consider for example how you were feeling/what was going on before & after you checked your email. Try to record as soon after your usage as you can --keep a LOG BOOKLET.
Key Questions to summarize log after ONE WEEK (1 page): 1) Summarize and identify any patterns in your usage (why/when/frequency/periods of day), 2) Identify “conditions” when you engage in media usage (times, moods, habits, etc.) What emotions are associated with media usage (prior to, during, & post)

Please provide a bibliography of 8-12 resources that you are drawing upon for your project. This may include books, articles, websites, interviews, films, etc. (5 credit course require a minimum of 15-20 resources for final project). Provide a one-page summary of KEY points that you found useful in this research. Consider this a “preliminary” literature/resource review.

Levy Article: 1 page reaction to the challenges/solutions to a “Life Interrupted”. Answer the following two questions.
1) What challenges (negative or positive) do you face in your computer usage?
2) What do you currently do to "manage" your computer usage and/or what do
you think you need to do for better "management" and "balance?"

This assignment involves trust and commitment. Please notify family and friends that you are involved in this experiment so they will not be alarmed. You are to seriously commit to 4 days of media liberation (Thursday morning---Monday morning) in which you reduce or eliminate all NON-WORK related media usage; including internet, email, social networking, cellphone, landphone, text messaging, television, radio, etc. When you have completed these four days, please respond to the following:
1) Describe your experiences & emotions in this process; both in resisting and in disconnecting; including reactions from others.
2) What challenges did you face with media reduction? What/when was it most difficult?
3) What do you need to consider in order to achieve more balance your life when it comes to media usage? Do you have any strategies for achieving this balance?

I would like 1 page on what/where/when you seek your "solitude" experience. Why did you select this experience?

Due Week #5 (15 citations=3 credits; 25 citations = 5 credits). Each citation contains a 3-5 sentence summary of thesis and key points. Please use APA style guide.

Pew Internet Reports
Pew Internet Reports is the largest study of internet usage in the world. PEW produces easy-to-read studies and fascinating research. They post all their articles, surveys, links to people you can ask questions!!! PEW also did a study on "speculation" on the future of the internet--I highly recommend this as a possible reading; (see Scenario #5---might want to consolidate arguments for and against this scenario). Assignment: Please select an article/survey results/commentary you want to share w/ the class. I want you to explore what you consider implications for solitude. (1 page)

ASSIGNMENT # 10: JOIE DE VIVRE – Please bring an object/symbol that represents a “leisure” activity in which you experience joie de vivre/flow/play. Drawing upon Andrews work – describe what do you experience in the course of engaging in this activity. Write a 1 page describing your leisure and feelings during this time Write your own definition of “joie de vivre” Do you agree or disagree with Andrews that we do not engage in “authentic” joie de vivre” in American culture—why or why not? (develop your argument here).

ASSIGNMENT #11: Reflections on Solitude and Gender
The following questions are based on the reading "Women and Solitude.”   Given that the class is almost 50/50 males and females--how can we ignore the question of gender. This book was written by women academics..but I seek to extend the propositions to males as well. Please answer below, speaking to the female experience (if you are a female) and to the male experience (if you are male). As you read this work--could you come prepared to class to discuss the following (bullet—1-2 page):

1) Do you feel your experience of solitude is gendered (influenced by your being female or male?). Explain.  Do you feel that the quest/question of solitude is a gender-neutral question that doesn't affect whether we are male or female?  Explain.
2) The author has some qualms that her quest/focus on solitude is something that belongs to the "privileged" class.  Your reaction to this.

3) Later author notes that women, “weave their lives around others” and self is only known through human connection. (Does this apply to males?) Question: Is the study of solitude – a threat to our notions of femininity/masculinity and womanhood/manhood? Might others see it as a threat?

4) “Being pleasant” – is that a demand for women? What is the demand for males? Using others for validation of the self—do women/males rely heavily on others to define us? Guilligan notes that women tend to question their feelings, alter their judgment in deference to the opinion of others” – do you find this true (for males/females)? Do women’s voices get muted in all this sensitivity? How can women balance their sensitivity to others without losing their voice?

5) Can woman find a “room of our own?” and if they do, do they succumb like Virginia Woolf to “attacks from within?” Males: How might this question apply?

6) Do you agree with McFall who writes that “to become an individual requires solitude and suffering. To survive and develop as an individual requires the capacity to ‘stand alone’; to think and feel and speak for oneself.” -- why must we suffer? (travel=travail). But America is all about “happy face.” Does this contradict Cecile’s argument for more joie de vivre?

ASSIGNMENT #12: Reflection on Involuntary Solitude
Undoubtedly, we have all experienced some form of involuntary solitude as described by the authors Long et al, Davies, Gotesky. Describe in one page a moment where you experienced a profound sense of involuntary solitude (similar to or different from what the authors describe—you may add to the list) and any insights that emerged from this experience.

ASSIGNMENT #13: Two page synopsis of final project (Due Feb. 26th)
This will be a summary of your final project—which you can revise for your final submission. This synopsis should provide a thesis (rational, purpose, and central idea(s); key points and/or arguments you want to develop; and conclusion. Remember scope, relevance, interest.


RATIONAL: A major assumption in designing this course is that the question of “solitude” is virtually silenced in our society. The tyranny of coupledom, the onslaught of technology, the frantic pace of our lives – leaves us little time to contemplate, reflect, and savor time alone. A second assumption is that although the study of communication focuses primarily on engagement with others, we learn about the quality of communication by the study of solitude.

This is an intensely personal and reflective course that draws upon scholarly and literary works for insight. As such, this course is designed for you to explore your own “style” and needs for solitude; your passions for entering into a new understanding of this topic and its meaning for your lives and the lives of others.

PROJECT: You are to design a project that will ultimately be presented to the SU community as a way of increasing campus awareness of the role of solitude in our lives. This project may take many forms depending on your own passions, skills, and talents. All projects will require library research and further independent reading—however creative you may be.

Here are some ideas…maybe you will think of others:
Research Paper --- explore a topic of profound interest to you (examples: solitude in childhood; the role of solitude for the creative process, relationship to faith or to our relationships, solitude in literature, etc.).
Research study – conduct interviews, design surveys, etc.
Photo/art exhibition, film, interviews.
Articles for a newspaper or magazine (feature story only)
Poetry collection & reading
Design a website

Since the quarter is very short—you will need to focus rather soon on your project. I urge you to work hard on this project before mid-terms; as students often become overloaded with course demands by this time. I am willing to meet with you individually to discuss and provide support for your exploration. Keep the project manageable and consider various “stages” for completion. Each of you will follow your own path. Our last class will be devoted to sharing our projects with each other. Before then, we will try to explore ways to present your work on campus…even if these are “works in progress.”

Week #1: Write a ½ proposal— Due Week #2
Week #2: Preliminary Research—Due Week #3
Week #4: Annotated Bibliography—Due Week #5 (15 citations=3 credits; 25
citations = 5 credits)
Week #7: Two page synopsis of final project (Due May 7th)


RATIONALE: Throughout this quarter we have been examining our own relationship to solitude. Now it’s time to hear from others. For this assignment, you will be interviewing 2 people (3 credit course) and 3 people (5 credit course) regarding their use/function/style of solitude in their lives.

GENERAL APPROACH: These will be 2-3 mini-case studies from which I want you to derive themes, language, strategies, functions, challenges, question of gender, etc. Begin the interview with “general questions” and then work toward more specific. Develop questions and sequence BEFORE the interview and include this in the final paper. For example, “Can you tell me a bit about your own view of solitude?” (e.g. how does it fit in your life?) What is your relationship to solitude; how/when/where? Can you recall a memorable moment in solitude? (specific) Here are key sections to include in the interviews:
1) Demographics: Male/female/ age/ occupation/ relational status (might save until last), etc.
2) Types/functions of solitude; 5 “w’s – where/when/who/why/how?
3) Resistance or challenges to solitude in their lives. (e.g. children, internet, social pressure, lack of time, gender).
4) Joie de vivre – where/when do they experience this?
5) Personal reflections on solitude.

WRITING: There are three parts to this assignment; case studies, synthesis, and personal reflections.

Case Studies: Approximately 1 page, single space for each interview that summarizes case-specific information; some cases may only take ½ page, others 1.5 pages.

Synthesis: I want you to take the above cases, without becoming redundant, and synthesize the key themes, use of language to describe solitude/joie de vivre, resistances & challenges, and finally the strategies people use to enhance solitude in their life. (2-3 pages).

Personal Reflections: Take approximately ½ to one page to synthesize their “reflections” and to include your own reflections based on these interviews.

Attach your interview questions to the final paper.

DUE DATE: April 30th
Remember, minimum 12’ font, stapled. Single space.