Coming of Age:

Images of Maturity and Fulfillment


Professor: Daniel Meckel

Office: Anne Arundel 110C

Office: 4464


Office hours: 9:39-10:30 MW


Course Summary

This course invites you to articulate and explore your assumptions about coming of age, that is to say, about becoming an “adult.”  You are encouraged to think deeply, critically, and comparatively about adulthood as both a universal feature of human development and as an historical and culturally variable set of ideals.  In doing so together, we will focus on the topics of fulfillment, self, intimacy, and responsibility (family, work, finances); asking ourselves throughout what it is that we assume to be a “healthy” or “mature” adult in these respects, and what we take to be an unhealthy or immature one.  As these assumptions come clear, we will consider some of their sources – e.g., the economy, popular media, religious life and values, Western democracy and cultures.  Further, we will compare our notions of adulthood compare to those found in non-Western settings. 

Throughout the course we will use as a critical reference point the life-cycle theory of psychoanalyst Erik Erikson. Erikson gives us a way of thinking about the stages of life, as well as the human strengths or virtues that develop in each stage.  We may not agree with Erikson but his influential ideas will serve as a point of comparison for our own thoughts.  Finally, in our pursuit of the meanings of “coming of age” we will also consider Swedish film, adolescent bedrooms, excessive thumb sucking, heavy metal parking lots, arranged marriage, debt, impending death, and other things.


Required Text:  Kamenetz, Anya  Generation Debt: Why Now is a Terrible Time to Be Young

All other readings will be available through e-reserve.  The password is sdmmc6.




Course Schedule

Week I

M Aug. 28:  Introductions


Readings and Assignments:

 Readings are due for the day on

which they are listed 


 Exploratory writing assignment 1


W Aug. 30:  Questioning “Adulthood”

What you can change, what you can’t change, and everything (is) in between.



F Sept. 1: Discussion:

Letter to your children


Exploratory writing Assignment 2

Writing assignment 1 due


Week II

M Sept. 4: No Class



W Sept. 6: “Fulfillment”


Writing assignment 2 due


Start reading Wild Strawberries (WS)


F Sept. 8: No Class



Images of Fulfillment and Despair in Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries

Week III

M Sept 11:  Dream Analysis 1:

                   Dr. Borg’s First Dream




WS, pp. 21-55

Discussion Questions for Today


W Sept. 13: Dream Analysis 2:

                   The Examination



WS, pp. 55-81

Discussion Questions for Today


W Sept. 13 at 8:00 PM:


Screening of Bergman’s Wild Strawberries





Library 321

F Sept. 15:  Tucking Up





WS, pp. 81-95

Discussion Questions for Today



Life Stages and Human Virtues: Erikson’s Theory

Week IV

M Sept. 18:  Life Cycles, Crises, and Virtues



Erikson, The Human Life Cycle, from E A Way of Looking at Things: Selected Papers, W. W. Norton & Co., 1996.

Discussion Questions for Today


W Sept. 20:  Basic Trust Vs. Basic Mistrust




Erikson, A Schedule of Virtues, from Insight and responsibility, Norton & Co., 1989,  pp. 111-118.


Discussion Questions for Today


Integrative Essay 1


F Sept. 22:  Integrity Vs. Despair





Erikson, A Schedule of Virtues,
pp. 132-134


Discussion Questions for Today



Week V

M Sept. 25:  No Afternoon Class but…


Meet at 8:00 PM in Cole Cinema to watch:




W Sept. 27:  Discussion of Thumbsucker



Integrative essay 1 due in class


Discussion Questions for Today


F Sept. 29:  Identity and Moratorium


Presentation: A History of Adolescence

Section 09: Bill Lummis

Section 10: Ashley Meadows


Erikson, The Life Cycle: Epigenesis of Identity (“5. Adolescence”)
from  Identity, Youth and Crisis, Norton & Co. Reissue edition, 1994, pp. 128-135.

Erikson, Identity Confusion in Life History and Case History, Ibid., pp. 142-158


Discussion Questions for Today



Week VI

M Oct. 2:  Moratorium



W Oct. 4:  Identity vs. Identity Confusion




Presentation: Storm and Stress

Section 09: Rowena Conway

Section 10: Emily Crosson

Erikson, Identity Confusion in Life History and Case History, pp. 165 (bottom)-176 (bottom).

Erikson, Human Strength and the Cycle of Generations, from Insight and responsibility, Norton & Co., 1989, pp. 124-127 (bottom).

Exploratory writing Assignment 3


F Oct. 6: Social Identity in High School


Presentation: Adolescent Room Culture

Section 09:  Emily Bzdyk

Section 10: Boyer Katie


Writing assignment 3 due

Exploratory writing Assignment 4


”Emerging Adulthood”

Week VII

M Oct. 9  No Class (Fall reading day)



W Oct. 11:  Media and Identity

Presentation: The Mosque and the Satellite

Section 09:  Mimi Edwards

Section 10:  Mandy Foster

Writing assignment 4 due


F Oct. 13:  Emerging Adulthood



Arnett, The Concept of Emerging Adulthood

Exploratory writing Assignment  5



Culture and Identity


M Oct. 16:  No Class

Integrative Essay 2

W Oct. 18: Religion and Adulthood

Presentation: A Congregation of One

Section 09: Mary Huang

Section 10: Alex Arguello

Writing assignment 5 due




F Oct. 20: Independent and
                 Interdependent Selves


Presentation: Independent and Interdependent Selves
Section 09: Tyler Sinclair
Section 10: Mike Rohrs


Markus & Kitayama, “Culture and the Self”



Week IX

M Oct. 23: Sex, Friendship,

                        and Commitment


Presentation: Friends with Benefits
Section 09: Shea Frazier

Section 10: Casey Marshall


Integrative essay 2 due in class


“Friends, Friends with Benefits”



W Oct. 25:  Duties Toward the Body?

Presentation: Love and Sex
Section 09:  Karen Farrell

Section 10: Kenny Salau


Kant, Duties Toward the Body in Respect to Sexual Impulse.

Discussion Questions for Today


Exploratory writing Assignment  6


F Oct. 27:  Intimacy vs. Isolation



Presentations: Sexual Betrayal

Section 09:  Tom Conkwright

Section 10: Jacob Smith


Erikson, The Life Cycle: Epigenesis of Identity, pp. 135-138 (top) (“6. Beyond Identity”)

Erikson, Human Strength and the Cycle of Generations, pp. 127-130 (top)


Culture, Marriage, and Love

Week X

M Oct. 30:  Arranged Marriage / Love



Family Relationships in India

Section 9: Erin Troxell

Section 10: Cali Chase

Writing assignment 6 due


Bumiller, Wedding First, Love Later: Arranged Marriage Among the Educated Classes.  Download


                Exploratory writing Assignment  7


W. Nov. 1:  No Afternoon Class but…


Meet by 8:00 PM in Cole Cinema to watch:

Monsoon Wedding




F Nov. 3: Arranged Marriage / Love

Discussion of Monsoon Wedding



Exploratory writing Assignment  8

Gender and Maturity

Week XI

M Nov. 6: Gender and Maturity

Presentation: Temporary Marriage and the State in Iran
Section 9: Heather Wells

Section 10: Amelia Fort


Writing assignment 7 due


               Integrative Essay 3


W Nov 8: Adulthood: Male and Female


Section 9: Heather Muszynski

Section 10: Melissa Pumphrey


Writing assignment 8 due


Gilligan, Crisis and Transition



F Nov. 10: Adulthood: Male and Female

Section 9: Chris Hendrix

Section 10: Mattie Farrar


Gilligan, Visions of Maturity (handout)





Week XII

M Nov. 13:  Generativity vs. Stagnation


Presentation: College
Section 9: Melissa Gilpin

Section 10: Stacey Dorish



Erikson, Human Strength and the Cycle of Generations, pp. 130-132.


W Nov. 15:

Section 9: Viani Kamelu

Section 10: Chris Kauffman


Integrative essay 3 due in class



Discussion Questions for Today


F Nov. 17: No Class






Nov. 20, 22, & 25:  No Class




Coming of Age in the Present Economy

Week XIV

M Nov. 27: Generation Debt and
                        College on Credit

Chapter Presentations:
Section 09: Julia Braun / Kerry Buechler

Section 10: Sarah Dowling


GD, chs. 1 & 2



W Nov. 29: Low Wage Jobs and

                   Temp Gigs


Chapter Presentations:

Section 09: Manty Koroma / Rachel Boyer

Section 10: Benjamin Spears / Rick Besore


GD, chs.3 & 4

F Dec. 1: No Class



Week XV

M Dec. 4: Family Troubles:

                 Love and Independence

Chapter Presentations:
Section 9: Gameli Agbleze

Section 10: Jennifer Covington


GD, ch. 7

Integrative Essay 4


W Dec. 6: Waking up and Taking Charge

Chapter Presentations:

Section 09: Andrew Bove / Nicole Chaplin


GD, ch. 8



F Dec. 8: No Class





F Dec. 15: Integrative Essay 4 due in hard                           copy.

Please leave your essay in the tray outside of my office. Do not send me the essay by email.



Assignments and Grading



                     Exploratory Writing Assignments (8)................................................................... 400 (50 each)

                     Integrative Essays (4).......................................................................................... 400 (100 each)

                     Presentation........................................................................................................ 100

                     Participation....................................................................................................... 100



Final Grade Values
1000 Points Possible

920 to 1000 = A

  900 to 919 = A-

  880 to 899 = B+

  820 to 879 = B

  800 to 819 = B-

  780 to 799 = C+


720 to 779 = C

700 to 719 = C-

680 to 699 = D+

620 to 679 = D

600 to 619 = D-

599 and below = F


Track your progress on Blackboard





Absence is both a physical and mental phenomenon.   Engagement means (1) wakeful presence, (2) preparation of reading assignments, (3) active involvement in class interactions, and (4) punctual arrival at the beginning of class.  Lack of any of these will affect the grade; excess of any of these can result in a failing grade.


Talk to Me! 
My office number and hours are listed above.  Please make an appointment if you can, but feel completely free to drop by with your concerns, ideas, questions, pets, floor plans, etc.  I will always make time if I can.  If necessary, we can interact by email or phone, but in-person is always best.


Be Here Now!

Attendance is required.  I will allow three “unexcused” absences during the semester.  After this, for every unexcused absence, a student’s final number grade will be reduced by 15 points.  A note from a doctor, dentist, coach, or funeral director will render any absence excused.  A note from the health center indicating that a student had an appointment is not sufficient.


Be Online! 
Please check your email and the online syllabus every day, I will assume that you do. This means that if I announce something via email – such as a changed deadline or altered reading assignment -- and a student doesn’t know it  Broken or unreliable computer?  Use the computers at the college.  The syllabus is my best projection of how our time will be organized.  I might well alter the assignment schedule as seems appropriate or necessary; but I will not change the grading policies.

Be Yourself!
Academic dishonesty in any form (including plagiarism of self or others, falsified documentation of a doctor’s note, and the unauthorized declaration of non-deductible tax items brought forth from the previous fiscal year) will not be tolerated.  Cheating of any kind results in an “F” for the course. Really.








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