Perspectives on a Famous Personality

Perspectives on a Famous Personality

The purpose of this assignment is to give you experience in applying the theories you are learning to a “real personality.” You will begin by choosing an interesting person to study and analyze (be sure to choose someone you truly find interesting, since this person will be the focus of this term paper). You may choose any public person you like (a politician, movie star, musician, scientist, author, etc.), living or dead. The only requirement is that there must be sufficient publicly-available information about this person’s life for you to adequately complete the assignment. Below is a short list of some interesting people whom you might want to consider; this is only a small sample, so be creative in your choice!

Woody Allen Jim Morrison Malcolm X John F. Kennedy
Maya Angelou Richard Nixon Albert Einstein Katherine Hepburn
Fidel Castro Donald Trump Bill Cosby Oprah Winfrey
Mohandas Gandhi Pablo Picasso Bill Gates Michael Jackson
Benjamin Franklin Jonas Salk Marie Curie Napoleon Bonaparte
Shirley Temple Elvis Presley Bill Clinton Woodrow Wilson
Mike Tyson Saddam Hussein Steve Jobs Elizabeth Taylor
Martha Stewart Adolf Hitler Franklin D. Roosevelt George Washington Carver
The Dalai Lama Henry Ford Howard Hughes Princess Diana
Cesar Chavez Eleanor Roosevelt Simone de Beauvoir Babe Ruth
Abraham Lincoln Winston Churchill Madonna Marilyn Monroe
Queen Elizabeth II Hillary Clinton Eva Peron Elton John
Paul McCartney Barak Obama Drew Barrymore Kurt Cobain
Howard Hughes Greta Garbo Jimmy Carter Martin Luther King, Jr

Before you choose a person, be sure there is a good biography or autobiography book about this person. If you can’t find a book-length biography/autobiography that is written for an adult audience, you will have to choose someone else—an encyclopedia entry or a biographical chapter or a movie or a children’s book is not sufficient. One easy way to select a person is to browse the biography shelves of a bookstore or public library, or an online bookseller. The University library may or may not have the kinds of biographies you will probably want to use. If you want to be sure you choose an appropriate person and biography book, you will need to get approval in advance for the person you have chosen. To approve the biography book, I need a full citation (author, publication date, book title, publisher).  Do not just send a link from amazon.com, but prepare a real citation. The approvals can be done by email or in office hours.  Prior approval of the person and book are optional, but will guarantee that you get all the credit associated with your choice of person and book. You can supplement your book(s) with newspaper or magazine articles, films, internet resources, and interviews, if appropriate. But these other sources are secondary to your main biography book—the biography book needs to be your primary source of information about the person, and the source you cite for the bulk of the biographical information. (The book can be in the form of an e-book, but has to be book length.) Your goal is to get to “know” this person well, so that you will have plenty of information upon which to base your analyses of his/her personality. The person does not have to be famous, but has to be real (not a fictional character), and there has to be a biographical book about him or her. Living or dead, ancient or current, awful or wonderful, famous or unknown–all are fine. The biography book does not have to be written in English, but the reference needs to include the translation of the title of the book in that case, using the correct APA style for foreign-language book titles.For your paper, you will select two or three of the theoretical perspectives addressed in your textbook (in Chapters 3 through 10). The theoretical perspectives you select must come from at least two different chapters of the textbook (i.e., you can’t do only neoanalytic theories). You will analyze your biographical person from each of the perspectives you have selected. For example, if you choose psychoanalysis as one of your perspectives, you will analyze this person from a Freudian perspective: What do you know about his/her childhood that would be of interest to a psychoanalyst? Does this person seem to be fixated at any stage? What are his/her personal relationships like? What conclusions can you draw? You do not have to believe every part of your analysis, but it must reflect the facts of the individual’s life and the theory you are using. You can discuss the same life events or characteristics of the biographical person from both (or all three) perspectives or you can choose different events or characteristics to analyze from each of the perspectives you use. Your two or three analyses will form a term paper of approximately 10-12 pages of text (plus a title page and reference page).Some examples of good student papers on this topic are posted on CC in the Term Paper Info section, but be aware that these student papers used an older edition of the APA style guide, so the formatting does not exactly meet the current APA style requirements.  The changes are minor, though.

A careful and well-written analysis is expected. Papers should conform to APA style (in terms of margins, spacing, etc.), including an APA-formatted title page, and a reference list in APA format of all sources used (biographical material and books/articles on personality theory). You can get more information about APA style on this CSUSM Library website: https://biblio.csusm.edu/guides/psychology-research-guide , at the link on the left titled “APA Style”. The current APA style guide (called Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association) is the 7th edition, published with a copyright date of 2020.  It is available at Library Reserves, or you can purchase a copy of your own. At a minimum, you must include at least one source about the theories you are using (which can be the REVEL textbook), and one source about the person (which must include a biographical or autobiographical book). The due date for the term paper is by the start of class on April 15th. The start of class is 2:30 PM—CougarCourses will mark the paper late if it comes in after 14:30:00. Give yourself enough time to meet the deadline, especially if you are not familiar with the CougarCourses upload process, which can be a little unintuitive.  You should be able to get a receipt when your paper is uploaded—you might want to keep a copy of that.  Note that all papers are submitted as a Turnitin assignment.  This checks for some forms of plagiarism.  If you use someone else’s words, you must show that by using quotation marks, and crediting the source.  If you are not sure about some issue of academic honesty, there is a section of the current catalog on this issue (under the heading “Academic Honesty”) at www.csusm.edu/catalog .  You also might be able to get help from the Writing Center or the Psychology Academic Resource Lab (PARL).

A detailed grading rubric will also be provided. The papers will be graded on the basis of

  • selection of an appropriate person
  • the quality and appropriateness of the ideas and analysis
  • the accuracy of the description of the personality theories you use
  • the quality of the writing (organization, clarity, word choice, grammar, spelling)
  • the appropriateness of the sources used (biography book and theory source)
  • adherence to APA format (including reference citations and proper formatting of quoted material)
  • submission by the due date (the start of class on April 15th)

 The grade for the paper will reflect how well you apply the theoretical perspectives to the person, how clearly the paper is written, how well the APA format is followed.  You will lose points for the paper being late, for choosing an inappropriate person or biographical source, for poor application of the theories to the person, and for unclear writing.  I will post the grading rubric with point values in the “Term Paper Info” section.

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