LAR 112: Capstone Project

cla.clawThe Western Heritages (LAR) sequence culminates in the capstone project. The capstone project encourages students both to reflect upon their experiences with Western culture, Christianity, and liberal education, and to continue their engagement with the philosophers, educators, and artists who shape the conversation of humanity.

Like the 4th Hour Portfolio in LAR 111, the capstone project is largely an independent one. Students should defer to the specific guidelines set by their individual instructors.

The capstone project asks students write their own critical autobiographies.  A critical autobiography is one that uses the events of a writer’s life as a springboard into an exploration of the larger culture and the forces associated with it.  One of the most acknowledged practitioners of the form is Victor Villanueva, whose description of critical autobiography follows: 

There must be room for elements of autobiography, not as confession and errant self-indulgence, not as the measure on which to assess theory, not as a replacement for rigor, but as a way of knowing our predispositions to see things certain ways, of understanding what it is that guides our intuitions in certain ways.  This is the autobiographical critique.  (Villanueva 51) 

As Villanueva’s quotation suggests, the purpose of this project is not merely to recount some event that was important to the writer.  Rather, the goal is to recognize the extent to which our experiences—and thus our attitudes, beliefs, and ways of thinking—have been generated, shaped, and interpreted through the interplay of larger cultural forces and attitudes.