M A I N * N E W S * T O P I C S * L I N K S * R E S E R V E S
The Spring 2000 Mid-Term Exam
Here is a virtual replica of the mid-term exam (minus, of course, the passages to be IDed in Part I; if I were to tell you what they were, I'd be forced to kill you).
EN 209: Novels and Tales.................Mid-Term Examination............... Spring 2000 (Simon)
NAME: __________________ ................................................... DATE: ______________
Part I: PASSAGE IDENTIFICATIONS (14 points; recommended time: 5 minutes)
Choose seven (7) of the eleven (11) passages that are listed at the end of this exam and identify both the author and title of each. Errors will be penalized for answers in this section (including spelling errors); partial credit will be awarded. Please fill out your answers to Part I below.
For extra credit, you may try to identify the author and title for the other passages. Errors will not be penalized for answers in this section; credit will be awarded only to exact identifications of author or title. Try for extra credit on Part I only AFTER completing Part II.
PART II: INTERPRETIVE SKILLS (48 points; recommended time: 45 minutes)
Demonstrate your competence in the following interpretive skills:
A. Do a brief close reading of a passage (different from the passage chosen for B. or C.): write one to four paragraphs on its meaning and the means by which that meaning is disclosed, with the goal of explaining what is happening in the passage, both on the level of plot/character (actions/motivations) and on the level of language use (imagery, symbolism, tone, etc.).
B. Briefly relate a passage (different from the passage chosen for A. or C.) to the work from which it comes: write one to four paragraphs on its significance, on the ways in which it contributes to the meaning of the larger work.
C. Briefly compare/contrast a passage (different from the passage chosen for A. or B.) to a work by a different author: write one to four paragraphs on a single "issue" (for example, conflict/theme/problem/process/idea) that the passage addresses, noting similarities and differences between the treatment of it in the passage and the treatment of that "issue" in another work, and trying to identify what is distinctive and significant about each author's treatment of that "issue."
Read all your answers over again before handing in your exam. Give yourself time to plan your approach to the exam; time spent planning what you will write in Part II is time well spent. Relax, focus, and enjoy yourself.
PART III: SHORT ANSWER/INTERPRETIVE ESSAY (38 points; 3 take-home essays)
A. SHORT ANSWER (10 points)
Choose two (2) of the following options on which to write short answer essays (roughly a paragraph or two each).
- Explain the difference between a representation and a use of a ghost in fiction. Illustrate your points by referring to one work we've read thus far in the semester.
- Explain the difference between the narrator and the author. Illustrate your points by referring to one work we've read thus far in the semester.
- Identify what distinguishes a ghost story from other kinds of fantastic or supernatural literature. Illustrate your points by contrasting a work you consider to be a ghost story with one you don't.
- Identify some of the conventions of the ghost story. Be sure to discuss traditional characters, settings, plots, and conflicts; the kinds of expectations listeners/readers bring to such stories; and the kinds of goals storytellers/writers tend to have.
B. INTERPRETIVE ESSAY (28 points)
Choose one (1) of the following options on which to write a short interpretive essay (no more than two single-spaced typed/printed pages). Your task here is to let me understand your position. It is better to be reasonable (evidenced and persuasive and thoughtful) than "right" (to select an "answer"). You may even discover that your "answer" is your opening sentence and all the rest (the important stuff) is justification/explanation. You may assume I am familiar with the texts, so keep plot summary and other scene-setting devices to an absolute minimum.
- What are some of the most important functions of the ghost in literature?
What are some of the most interesting ways that writers have used ghosts in
their narratives? Make a case for what you see as the three most important
functions/roles/uses of ghosts/hauntings/spirit possessions. Illustrate
each function/role/use with at least one relevant example, drawing on at
least three texts in all.
- In their stories that we've read in this course, Joseph Bruchac, Robert Olen Butler, Charles Chesnutt, Henry James, and Joyce Carol Oates seem to play with reader expectations about the way a ghost story should be written, even as they
focus on the role of cultural differences and social conflicts in ghost stories. Choose two of these writers and write a short essay that addresses the following
questions: what does the way their stories are written have to do with the
main points the writers seem to be trying to make? what is the relation
between literary form and cultural politics in their works?
- Many of the stories we've read thus far in the semester seem to be stories
about storytelling. They feature scenes of telling and listening, or use
multiple narrators, or focus on several ways of telling the same "story."
Sometimes it seems that by focusing on the process of storytelling authors
are trying to educate their own readers on how to read their texts. Choose
two such stories about storytelling that we've read thus far in the
semester and write a short essay that addresses the following questions:
how does a specific scene of storytelling in each of the works you chose
teach lessons about reading ghost stories? more generally, what kinds of
lessons about reading ghost stories are being taught in scenes of
- "Haunting," according to Avery Gordon, "is neither premodern superstition nor individual psychosis. . . . In haunting, organized forces and systemic structures that appear removed from us make their impact felt in everyday life." Gordon argues in her book Ghostly Matters that ghosts are "social figures"--signs that something political or social is at stake even in what seem to be the most individual or personal of matters. Think about the stories we've read thus far in the semester and decide if you agree or disagree with Gordon's point that ghosts bridge the personal and the political. Choose two in particular to help you explain why you agree or disagree. If you decide to show that ghosts are "social figures," you will need to provide readings of several texts in which you show how "organized forces and systemic structures" make their impact felt in everyday life via haunting. If you decide to disagree with Gordon, you might argue that ghosts are not "social figures" but instead represent the states of mind of individual characters, and illustrate your point using at least two texts. (Note: If Gordon's quote doesn't spark your interest, you may choose a different claim from the How To Do Things With Ghosts page and write an essay in which you respond to a single claim about the use of ghosts featured on that page by discussing at least two of the texts we've read thus far in the semester. You may agree with the claim, disagree with it, or suggest a modification of it, but the key point is to "test" the general or theoretical claim against your reading experience. Do the texts we've read do what the critics claim they should do? Be specific; refer to at least two texts we've read thus far in the semester.)
M A I N * N E W S * T O P I C S * L I N K S * R E S E R V E S
EN 209: Novels and Tales, Spring 2000
Created: 2/28/00, 9:27 pm
Last modified: 3/2/00, 7:57 pm