English 2110: World Literature, Spring 2013

Section 03: MW 2:00-3:15PM, Arts & Sciences 368

Section 04: MW 3:30-4:45PM, Arts & Sciences 368

In Class Activities

1. Closely Reading Conrad

To prepare for the close reading paper, today we're going to break into groups of 4-5 and practice an abbreviated close reading of a significant passage. Here are the passages:

  1. They were men enough to face the darkness. And perhaps he was cheered by keeping his eye on a chance of promotion to the fleet at Ravenna by and by, if he had good friends in Rome and survived the awful climate. Or think of a decent young citizen in a toga—perhaps too much dice, you know—coming out here in the train of some prefect, or tax-gatherer, or trader even, to mend his fortunes. Land in a swamp, march through the woods, and in some inland post feel the savagery, the utter savagery, had closed round him—all that mysterious life of the wilderness that stirs in the forest, in the jungles, in the hearts of wild men. There's no initiation either into such mysteries. He has to live in the midst of the incomprehensible, which is also detestable. And it has a fascination, too, that goes to work upon him. The fascination of the abomination—you know, imagine the growing regrets, the longing to escape, the powerless disgust, the surrender, the hate. (20)
  2. I went to work the next day, turning, so to speak, my back on that station. In that way only it seemed to me I could keep my hold on the redeeming facts of life. Still, one must look about sometimes; and then I saw this station, these men strolling aimlessly about in the sunshine of the yard. I asked myself sometimes what it all meant. They wandered here and there with their absurd long staves in their hands, like a lot of faithless pilgrims bewitched inside a rotten fence. The word 'ivory' rang in the air, was whispered, was sighed. You would think they were praying to it. A taint of imbecile rapacity blew through it all, like a whiff from some corpse. By Jove! I've never seen anything so unreal in my life. And outside, the silent wilderness surrounding this cleared speck on the earth struck me as something great and invincible, like evil or truth, waiting patiently for the passing away of this fantastic invasion. (34)
  3. Trees, trees, millions of trees, massive, immense, running up high; and at their foot, hugging the bank against the stream, crept the little begrimed steamboat, like a sluggish beetle crawling on the floor of a lofty portico. It made you feel very small, very lost, and yet it was not altogether depressing, that feeling. After all, if you were small, the grimy beetle crawled on—which was just what you wanted it to do. Where the pilgrims imagined it crawled to I don't know. To some place where they expected to get something. I bet! For me it crawled towards Kurtz—exclusively; but when the steam-pipes started leaking we crawled very slow. The reaches opened before us and closed behind, as if the forest had stepped leisurely across the water to bar the way for our return. We penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness. It was very quiet there. At night sometimes the roll of drums behind the curtain of trees would run up the river and remain sustained faintly, as if hovering in the air high over our heads, till the first break of day. Whether it meant war, peace, or prayer we could not tell. The dawns were heralded by the descent of a chill stillness; the wood-cutters slept, their fires burned low; the snapping of a twig would make you start. Were were wanderers on a prehistoric earth, on an earth that wore the aspect of an unknown planet. We could have fancied ourselves the first of men taking possession of an accursed inheritance, to be subdued at the cost of profound anguish and of excessive toil. But suddenly, as we struggled round a bend, there would be a glimpse of rush walls, of peaked grass-roofs, a burst of yells, a whirl of black limbs, a mass of hands clapping of feet stamping, of bodies swaying, of eyes rolling, under the droop of heavy and motionless foliage. The steamer toiled along slowly on the edge of a black and incomprehensible frenzy. The prehistoric man was cursing us, praying to us, welcoming us—who could tell? We were cut off from the comprehension of our surroundings; we glided past like phantoms, wondering and secretly appalled, as sane men would be before an enthusiastic outbreak in a madhouse. We could not understand because we were too far and could not remember because we were travelling in the night of first ages, of those ages that are gone, leaving hardly a sign—and no memories. (44)
  4. There was a sense of extreme disappointment, as though I had found out I had been striving after something altogether without a substance. I couldn't have been more disgusted if I had travelled all this way for the sole purpose of talking with Mr. Kurtz. Talking with . . . I flung one shoe overboard, and became aware that that was exactly what I had been looking forward to—a talk with Kurtz. I made the strange discovery that I had never imagined him as doing, you know, but as discoursing. I didn't say to myself, 'Now I will never see him,' or 'Now I will never shake him by the hand,' but, 'Now I will never hear him.' The man presented himself as a voice. Not of course that I did not connect him with some sort of action. Hadn't I been told in all the tones of jealousy and admiration that he had collected, bartered, swindled, or stolen more ivory than all the other agents together? That was not the point. The point was in his being a gifted creature, and that of all his gifts the one that stood out preeminently, that carried with it a sense of real presence, was his ability to talk, his words—the gift of expression, the bewildering, the illuminating, the most exalted and the most contemptible, the pulsating stream of light, or the deceitful flow from the heart of an impenetrable darkness. (54)
  5. There was nothing either above or below him, and I knew it. He had kicked himself loose of the earth. Confound the man! he had kicked the very earth to pieces. He was alone, and I before him did not know whether I stood on the ground or floated in the air. I've been telling you what we said—repeating the phrases we pronounced—but what's the good? They were common everyday words—the familiar, vague sounds exchanged on every waking day of life. But what of that? They had behind them, to my mind, the terrific suggestiveness of words heard in dreams, of phrases spoken in nightmares. Soul! If anybody ever struggled with a soul, I am the man. And I wasn't arguing with a lunatic either. Believe me or not, his intelligence was perfectly clear—concentrated, it is true, upon himself with horrible intensity, yet clear; and therein was my only chance—barring, of course, the killing him there and then, which wasn't so good, on account of unavoidable noise. But his soul was mad. Being alone in the wilderness, it had looked within itself, and, by heavens! I tell you, it had gone mad. I had—for my sins, I suppose—to go through the ordeal of looking into it myself. No eloquence could have been so withering to one's belief in mankind as his final burst of sincerity. He struggled with himself, too. I saw it—I heard it. I saw the inconceivable mystery of a soul that knew no restraint, no faith, and no fear, yet struggling blindly with itself. (69)

Here are the issues each group should discuss:

  1. What is the overall conflict of the novella?
  2. What is the overall meaning of the novel?
  3. What is the core conflict of the passage?
  4. What is the meaning of the passage?
  5. Analyze one sentence of the passage in terms of connotation, imagery, symbolism, and/or figures of speech.
  6. How do core conflict and meaning of the passage broach or connect with the overall conflict and meaning of the novella?

2. Annotations and Ethics of Conrad and Celan

In order to prepare for the group project, which involves both composing an annotated bibliography on literary work and discerning the ethical questions raised by the text, we'll practice annotating a scholarly journal article on Conrad's novella or Celan's poetry and determining the moral issues of those works of literature.


Prior to Wednesday, January 23, in addition to reading Blackburn's "Some Ethical Ideas" and "Foundations" (Blackburn 49-116), read and take notes on the one essay of literary criticism assigned to you in the table below. All articles are available in GeorgiaVIEW > Contents > Electronic Course Reserves > Course Packet. Opening the document in Acrobat will reveal bookmarks.


Article 2:00 Section Students 3:30 Section Students

Bleiker, "'Give it the Shade': Paul Celan and the Politics of Apolitical Poetry"

Brooke Adams
Dayana Aparicio
Erica Beale
Ben Beall

Courtney Bush
Jeffrey Chambers
Sarah Cook
Ann Corban

Hawkins, "...Paul Celan and the Language of Sanctification"


Kaitlyn Black
Kristen Busby
Krystal Castleberry
Douglas Chambers

Kate Crye
Nelson Drake
Hannah Eberhardt
Francisco Escoda

Moore, "'Speak, You Also': Encircling Trauma"



Jillian Clancy
Aubrey Ethridge
Melyssa Gayle
Arva Hosey

Ethan Feller
Kate Foster
Claire Hachat
Tyler Hayes

Kaplan, "Colonizers, Cannibals and the Horror of Good Intentions in... Heart of Darkness"

Colin Hughes
Kristen Johnson
Ryan Miller
Parker Pratt

Justin Kalin
Jacob Lambo
Alexia Lemaigre
Grace Livingston

Lackey, "The Moral Conditions for Genocide in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness"

Colin Shirley

Shae Sneed
Brock Snelling
Janai Starr

Katie Molina
Logan Murray

Colin Rosenberger
Austin Sapp

Retief, "...the Quest for Moral Enlightenment in Conrad's Heart of Darkness"


Brooke Torres
Kate Ward
Sam Wilson
Hillary Woodall
Tara Wornica

Peyton Sexton
Rochelle Sibaja
Claire Turner




In class on Wednesday, January 23, groups will

  1. Collectively compose a 75-100 word annotation of the assigned article that identifies the issue or question that the source is investigating, defines the source's thesis or main idea relevant to your work of literature, and explains how the source helps your understanding of the work.
  2. Review the ethical issues discussed in Blackburn and determine the ethical concerns of your group's assigned literary work by Conrad or Celan.

Here are Blackburn's key issues regarding ethics, or the question of what is good conduct:

  1. The Death of God: What is the origin, foundation, or authority of ethical behavior? God? Humans?
  2. Relativism: What standards of living are universal or transcultural, and what standards are particular and customary?
  3. Egoism: What is the relationship between ethical behavior and self-interest?
  4. Evolutionary Theory: How does our individual and collective behavior adapt to our environment over time?
  5. Determinism and Futility: What behavior is biologically determined and what is a product of free will?
  6. Unreasonable Demands: Is the moral law sufficiently reasonable and flexible or absolutely extreme and strict?
  7. False Consciousness: Is the underlying reasoning for the moral law clear and conscious to the people practicing it?
  8. Birth: What control should one have over reproduction? From the gradualism perspective, what is being controlled and what are the reasons motivating the control? From the deontological standpoint, what is permissible and what is wrong?
  9. Death: How does one deal with desired death? What is the distinction between killing and letting die?
  10. Desire and the Meaning of Life: What is the meaning of life? What is the relationship between desire and death?
  11. Pleasure: What is the good life? What is happiness? How is pleasure qualified and measured?
  12. The Greatest Happiness of the Greatest Number: Do the ends justify the means? What is the relationship between law and justice for all, on the one hand, and the good of the people, on the other?
  13. Freedom from the Bad: How should society balance negative liberty (freedom from the bad) and positive liberty (freedom to become or be something good)?
  14. Freedom and Paternalism: Who should be self-governing?
  15. Rights and Natural Rights: What is the ideal or prescription of an order that society should uphold?
  16. Reasons and Foundations: Is Reason (rationality) the foundation of good conduct?
  17. Being Good and Living Well: What is the reasonable, virtuous life? How is that educated and politically achieved?
  18. The Categorical Imperative: What is one's universal duty, regardless of various motives? Should one "Act as if the maxim of your action were to become your will a universal law of nature"? Should one "act that you use humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, always at the same time as an end, never merely as a means"?
  19. Contracts and Discourse: Can we come to an agreement about good conduct through discourse and contracts?
  20. The Common Point of View: What is the common point of view regarding virtuous actions?

3. Ethical Conflicts

Last time, we discussed the politician's existential conflicts between life (love) and death, between solitude and companionship, in Márquez's "Death Constant Beyond Love" and suggested that, ethically speaking, when faced with death, the senator was disillusioned of his seemingly happy life and sought real life, authentic love. Today, we're going to continue practicing how to relate a story's core conflict to its ethical concerns.

  1. Naipaul, "One Out of Many" (Puchner 1006-28)
  2. Kincaid, "Girl" (Puchner 1144-6)
  3. Diaz, "Drown" (Puchner 1240-8)
  4. Diaz, "How to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie" (GeorgiaVIEW)
  5. Diaz, "No Face" (GeorgiaVIEW)

Here are the discussion questions:

  1. What is the core conflict of the story?
  2. How might this tension also engender an issue regarding how to live the ethical life?
  3. What specific idea does the story say about life, either how it should ideally lived, or the reality of how it is actually lived?

4. The Elements of Allende's House

For our first day of discussion, let's analyze the various literary components that form the novel by breaking into 6 groups with 3-4 members. Discuss the assigned question, below, and be prepared to report your conclusions to the class.

  1. Complete short character sketches of the novel's women: Clara del Valle, Rosa del Valle, Nívea del Valle, Férula Trueba, and Pancha García.
  2. Complete short character sketches of the novel's men: Severo del Valle, Marcos del Valle, Esteban Trueba, and Pedro Segundo García.
  3. Describe the novel's political, economic, and religious setting.
  4. Discuss and list examples of the novel's magical realism, i.e., the magical or supernatural elements that are portrayed in a matter of fact manner.
  5. Discuss the novel's tone, especially regarding violence. More generally, describe the third-person narrator's and first-person narrator's attitudes toward the stories and events, characters and lives, they're telling.
  6. Discuss the novel's ethics of power regarding class and gender.

5. Igbo Custom and Culture

For our first day of discussion of Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart, we will explore the Ibo customs and culture depicted in the novel. Break into 6 groups to discuss your assigned topic and find a passage illustrating your analysis.

  1. the role of men and masculininity
  2. the role of women and femininity
  3. religion
  4. law and government
  5. tradition
  6. language

6. Postcolonial Criticism

For our second day of discussion, we will explore the colonial and postcolonial aspects of the novel. While you are reading pages 75-148, think about Lois Tyson's seven "questions postcolonial critics ask about literary texts" (431-32) and be ready to answer the questions in class on Wednesday, March 13, when we will break into small groups to respond to the questions.

  1. How does Things Fall Apart allegorically represent colonial oppression with the the locusts chapter and the Tortoise myth, and how does it explicitly represent colonial oppression with the arrival of the white men?
  2. What does Things Fall Apart reveal about the problematics of postcolonial identity, including the relationship between personal and cultural identity? Since we don't yet have a full picture of that postcolonial identity in the first two-thirds of the novel, examine the novel's precolonial attitudes toward Igbo culture, religion, and justice systems, for instance, by discussing Okonkwo's exile, Uchendu's opinion of the Adame men, and the narrator's editorial comments about the egwugwu.
  3. Thinking about the Tortoise myth and the Igbo's initial attitude toward the white men at the end of our selection today, what does Things Fall Apart reveal about the politics and/or psychology of anticolonialist resistance?
  4. What does Things Fall Apart reveal about the operations of cultural difference—the ways in which race, religion, class, gender, sexual orientation, cultural beliefs, and customs combine to form individual identity—in shaping our perceptions of ourselves, others, and the world in which we live? What is your attitude toward Igbo culture, and how would you treat the Igbo if you visited their village? What do the Igbo think about the white men in the story so far, and how might they treat you?
  5. How does Things Fall Apart, a novel written in English, compare to canonical British and American novels that you've read? How does it treat character and plot, conflicts regarding the individual and society or the individual and nature, and Western cultural assumptions?
  6. Are there meaningful similarities among the literatures of different postcolonial populations? How does Achebe's novel compare to Wa'Thiongo's stories? to Walcott's poems? to Allende's novel? (Should it be compared to Allende's novel in terms of postcolonial literature?)
  7. How does Conrad's Heart of Darkness reinforce or undermine colonialist ideology through its representation of colonization and/or its inappropriate silence about colonized people?

7. Disgraceful Ethics

We did a good job of breaking down the ethics of David Lurie's sexual relationships last Monday, but the middle part of the novel takes a drastic turn into postcolonial issues. Today, let's break into seven small groups to analyze the import of the following passages:

  1. 'There was something so ignoble in the spectacle that I despaired. One can punish a dog, it seems to me, for an offence like chewing a slipper. A dog will accept the justice of that: a beating for a chewing. But desire is another story. No animal will accept the justice of being punished for following its instincts.' (90)
  2. 'Scapegoating worked in practice while it still had religious power behind it. You loaded the sins of the city on to the goat's back and drove it out, and the city was cleansed. It worked because everyone knew how to read the ritual, including the gods. Then the gods died, and all of a sudden you had to cleanse the city without divine help. Real actions were demanded instead of symbolism. The censor was born, in the Roman sense. Watchfulness became the watchword: the watchfulness of all over all. Purgation was replaced by the purge.' (91)
  3. He speaks Italian, he speaks French, but Italian and French will not save him here in darkest Africa. He is helpless, an Aunt Sally, a figure from a cartoon, a missionary in cassock and topi waiting with clasped hands and upcast eyes while the savages jaw away in their own lingo preparatory to plunging him into their boiling cauldron. Mission work: what has it left behind, that huge enterprise of upliftment? Nothing that he can see. (95)
  4. A risk to own anything: a car, a pair of shoes, a packet of cigarettes. Not enough to go around, not enough cars, shoes, cigarettes. Too many people, too few things. What there is must go into circulation, so that everyone can have a chance to be happy for a day. That is the theory; hold to the theory and to the comforts of theory. Not human evil, just a vast circulatory system, to whose workings pity and terror are irrelevant. That is how one must see life in this country: in its schematic aspect. Otherwise one could go mad. Cars, shoes; women too. There must be some niche in the system for women and what happens to them. (98)
  5. The day is not dead yet but living. War, atrocity: every word with which one tries to wrap up this day, the day swallows down its black throat. (102)
    • Vengeance is like a fire. The more it devours, the hungrier it gets. (112)
    • What if, after an attack like that, one is never oneself again? What if an attack like that turns one into a different and darker person altogether? (124)
  6. More and more he is convinced that English is an unfit medium for the truth of South Africa. Stretches of English code whole sentences long have thickened, lost their articulations, their articulateness, their articulatedness. Like a dinosaur expiring and settling in the mud, the language has stiffened. Pressed into the mould of English, Petrus's story would come out arthritic, bygone. (117)
  7. A distasteful word, it seems to him, double-edged, souring the moment. Yet can Petrus be blamed? The language he draws on with such aplomb is, if he only knew it, tired, friable, eaten from the inside as if by termites. Only the monosyllables can still be relied on, and not even all of them. // What is to be done? Nothing that he, the one-time teacher of communications, can see. Nothing short of starting all over again with the ABC. By the time the big words come back reconstructed, purified, fit to be trusted once more, he will be long dead. (129)


The pop quizzes are designed to compel you to keep up with the reading. Quizzes cannot be made up. Instead, if you have an unexcused absence on a quiz day, you will receive a 0 on the quiz. If you have an excused absence (like illness with a doctor's note), the missed quiz will not be counted in the final average. You can calculate your average quiz grade here; and your average quiz grade will be returned to you with the final quiz.

  1. Conrad, 1-9
  2. Blackburn, 1-16
  3. Marquez and Naipaul, 1-28
  4. Allende, 2-20
  5. Allende, 2-25
  6. Allende, 3-4
  7. Achebe, 3-13
  8. Aidoo and Head, 3-20
  9. Coetzee, 4-1
  10. Mahfouz and Pamuk, 4-15

Close Reading Paper

Sign up in pairs to analyze a key passage in a formal 5-6 page paper and formal 5-7 minute presentation not including reading the passage aloud. Your essay and presentation should 1) do a line-by-line examination of the most important passage in the assigned work, interpreting it sentence-by-sentence through nuanced reading of (for example) figurative language, diction, connotation, and symbol, and 2) arguing the passage's centrality to understanding the core conflicts and overall theme of the work by explicating the fundamental conflicts with the particular lines of the scene broaches the core conflict and overall theme of the work. Your essay should be driven by a thesis that argues the work's theme and logically organized by close reading of the text: unpack the tension and conflict, connotation and diction, idea and theme. Your well-organized presentation should clearly convey your ideas to the class, and each member should speak during the presentation.

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Date Author 2:00 Section Students 3:30 Section Students
W, 1-16


1 Kaitlyn Black Kate Foster
2 Krystal Castleberry Hannah Eberhardt
M, 1-28

Márquez or Naipaul

3 Jillian Clancy Courtney Bush
4 Colin Shirley Claire Turner
W, 1-30


5 Melyssa Gayle  
6 Arva Hosey  
W, 2-6


7 Erica Beale Francisco Escoda
8 Brooke Adams Rochelle Sibaja
W, 2-13


9 Aubrey Etheridge Austin Sapp
10 Kristen Busby Cameron Chambers
M, 3-4


11 Kate Ward Nelson Drake
12 Dayana Aparicio Jacob Lambo
W, 3-6

Wa Thiang'o

13 Parker Pratt Colin Rosenberger
14 Ryan Miller Alexia Lemaigre
M, 3-18


15 Sam Wilson Logan Murray
16 Shae Sneed Ethan Feller
W, 3-20

Aidoo or Head

17 Janai Starr Justin Kalin
18 Kristen Johnson / Tara Wornica Kate Crye
W, 4-10


19 Brooke Torres Katie Molina
20 Colin Hughes Claire Hachet
M, 4-15

Mahfouz or Pamuk

21 Hillary Woodall Ann Corban
22 Ben Beall Peyton Sexton / Tyler Hayes
W, 4-17

El Saadawi or Al-Shaykh

23 Maine Chambers Sarah Cook
24 Brock Shelling Grace Livingston

Ethics Paper

While the close reading paper asked you to collaborate with another student to determine the core conflict and overall theme of a literary work based on an analysis of a significant passage, the group project asked you to conduct literary research and summarize ethical issues of a literary work, and the exam gave you the option to compare and contrast an ethical dilemma in two works of literature, the ethics paper requires you to individually write a sustained analysis of an ethical issue in a single work of literature we've read. Some questions your paper should consider include but are not limited to: What is the central ethical issue of the work? What are the two (or more) forces of the ethical conflict? How does the work resolve (or not) the ethical conflict? What resulting ethical message does the work convey? Simon Blackburn's Ethics: A Very Short Introduction provides a list of general questions that your selected work will particularize, and Lois Tyson's questions that postcolonial critics ask can easily be modified to highlight their ethical concerns.


For instance, Blackburne's chapter on freedom and paternalism asks the abstract question of who should be self-governing. Self-governance is the central issue of Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart, as the Igbo's customs come into conflict with the white men's religion, government, and education. You could discuss what message about colonial control Okonkwo's suicide sends.


Your MLA formatted, well-structured, and thesis-driven paper should analyze textual evidence from both the work of literature and Blackburn's Introduction and argue the ethical conflict, theme, and significance of the work.


In the close reading paper and group project, I have noted MLA formatting problems but have not imposed style penalties. In this assignment, your grade will be penalized if it does not follow MLA format. I will check MLA style of papers in class on Wednesday, April 3.

Group Project

Groups of 3-4 will discuss the ethical questions and moral issues of a selected writer, research the writer, compose an annotated bibliography of scholarly criticism of the writer, and formally present their findings to class with an accompanying website, PowerPoint, or Prezi that includes

For the annotated bibliography component, use this literary research methods handout to find peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles and academic book chapters on your assigned work of literature. For each source, provide the MLA citation and then compose a 75-100 word summary and evaluation of the article or chapter by 1) identifying the issue or question that the source is investigating, 2) defining the source's thesis or main idea relevant to your work of literature, and, 3) explaining how the source helps your understanding of the work. Submit your PowerPoint file or a link to your website or Prezi to GeorgiaVIEW > Dropbox > Group Project. Retrieve your graded project in GeorgiaVIEW > Dropbox > Group Project approximately one week after your presentation.


Note: Do not use encyclopedias, magazines, newspapers, primary texts, or fan sites in your annotated bibliography.


Note: Groups presenting on poets (Neruda, Walcott, and Darwish) should inform the professor if there are poems outside our textbook that they would like the class to read one week before the presentation so the professor can upload the poems to GeorgiaVIEW.


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Date Author 2:00 Section Students 3:30 Section Students
W, 2-6


1 Erica Beale  
2 Brooke Adams  
3 Ryan Miller  
4 Parker Pratt  
W, 2-13


5 Melyssa Gayle Austin Sapp
6 Arva Hosey Rochelle Sibaja
7 Dayana Aparicio Ann Corban
8 Kate Ward Peyton Sexton
M, 3-4


9 Hillary Woodall Claire Turner
10 Colin Shirley Courtney Bush
11 Jillian Clancy Kate Foster
12 Ben Beall Hannah Eberhardt / Francisco Escoda
M, 3-18


13 Kaitlyn Black Logan Murray
14 Krystal Castleberry Ethan Feller
15 Tara Wornica Sarah Cook
16 Kristen Johnson Alexia Lemaigre
W, 4-10


17 Sam Wilson Justin Kalin
18 Shae Sneed Kate Crye
19 Janai Starr Katie Molina
20 Brock Snelling Claire Hachat / Cameron Chambers
W, 4-24


21 Aubrey Ethridge Grace Livingston
22 Brooke Torres Colin Rosenberger
23 Colin Hughes Jacob Lambo
24 Kristen Busby Nelson Drake / Tyler Hayes

In Class Midterm Exam

In the first exam, taken in class on Monday, February 18, you will write 2-3 thesis-driven comparison/contrast essays selected from 5-6 questions written by the professor based on the class's topics generated on Wednesday, February 6.


Here is a suggested study plan:

  1. For each literary author read, compose notes that include the main characters, the core conflict, and the theme(s).
  2. Using Blackburne's Ethics: A Very Short Introduction, determine which ethical issues the literary work explores.
  3. Note what, if anything, the literary work says about the exam topics generated by the class, below.

Here is a list of who we have studied in the first half of the course

  1. Conrad, Heart of Darkness
  2. Celan, poetry
  3. Márquez, "Death Constant Beyond Love"
  4. Naipaul, "One Out of Many"
  5. Kincaid, "Girl"
  6. Diaz, "Drown," "How to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie," and "No Face"
  7. Neruda, poetry
  8. Walcott, poetry

Here are the topics for the 2:00 section:

  1. literature as an instruction manual for life
  2. civilization and savagery
  3. the clash between cultures and their histories
  4. cultural norms and traditions either challenged or accepted
  5. traditional gender roles either challenged or accepted
  6. applying one of the ethical concepts from the Blackburne textbook

Here are the topics for the 3:30 section:

  1. the primal conflicts between life and death, desire and reality
  2. civilization and savagery
  3. the clash between cultures and their histories
  4. encountering pain, trauma, and/or adversity
  5. applying one of the ethical concepts from the Blackburne textbook
  6. moral vows and ethical compromises

Take Home Final Exam

While the first exam covered the first half of the course in a closed book, time format, the second exam is a take home test covering the literary works from the second half of the course (Allende, Wa Thiang'o, Achebe, Aidoo, Head, Coetzee, Mahfouz, Pamuk, El Saadawi, Al-Shaykh, Darwish). We, as a class, will brainstorm topics in class on Wednesday, April 17; and then I will generate essay questions from those topics on Monday, April 22.


Answer 2 of the 5-6 questions below. Do not use an author in more than one essay; use two different authors' works in each essay, for a total of four authors covered across two essays. Not all authors' works are appropriate for all essays. Choose works which afford adequate material to address the question at hand. Have a controlling idea, an interpretation, a thesis that bridges the works. Make connections and distinctions among the texts; compare and contrast the works' key ideas. Support your points with textual evidence (pertinent quotations); avoid plot summary. Organize essays by argument and analysis. You will be graded on your interpretive understanding of the work as well as your ability to compare and contrast meanings and issues.


2:00 Section Questions (scroll down for 3:30 Section)

3:30 Section Questions (scroll up for 2:00 Section)