The Final Exam
Part I: Multiple Choice. 1%. (Yes, just 1%! Please answer 5 questions on Blackboard separately)
Part II: Take Home Essay. 99% of Final Exam Grade.
Instructions:
• Choose ONE of the three essay questions. You must write on at least SIX of the works that we have studied since the midterm. Only one essay is required, 700 word minimum (2-3 pages, Times New Rmn 12)
• Submit your essay on Blackboard; check the syllabus for the due date
• Use several examples from the texts (remember the “Rule of 3”- use 3 examples/ quotes each time you make an assertion!).
• You should give yourself several hours (5-6) to complete this assignment, including at least an hour or more to ponder these works and take notes on the rich symbols and meanings, perhaps another hour to outline your response in an organized fashion, and three to four hours to write and edit your response.

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• Your turnitin.com report should have no indication of use of any websites, other than the primary text (especially Wikipedia, Schmoop, Spark Notes, Cliff Notes, PinkMonkey, etc.)
• Check author and title spelling carefully. Novels and films should be italicized. Short stories & poems should be delineated by quotation marks.
• Respond to the following essay prompt, submitting your final exam essay through the Blackboard link under “Course Materials,” and “Final Exam.”

Essay Question #1:

Modernism and Postcolonial Literature–I and Thou
While the twentieth century was a great time for the advance of science and technology, it was also a period of increased pessimism, atheism, and human isolation.

In his book, Ich und Du, the Jewish writer Martin Buber argues that in the age of Modernity, man has trodden a dangerous path, inclining himself in relation to the other with a posture of, “I-It,” rather than “I-Thou.” That is, modern man has viewed “the other” (fellow man, creation, even God himself) not as a being to be beholden but as an object to be conquered.

Reality is that which “I” create; I am, essentially, my own god, subjecting all things to my own will, living for myself, forgetting that humans are, indeed, en-souled, ennobled beings, made in the image of God (or the Imago Dei, the traditional Latin phrase used by the church through the ages ).

The Modern and Postcolonial writers whom we have read this semester tread against this destructive current of Modernity—that mindset against which Buber warns. These authors reject the tendency of modern men and women to objectify/enslave the other, to demand that God exists to please us (like a genie in a bottle), to conquer nature, to rebel against God, to master the other, and to stand by silently as men and women of inaction—as Prufrock would.

Some of the works we have read (by Eliot, Yeats, Soyinka) express this critique of modernity via negativa (a Latin theological term for the “negative way,” or through negation), depicting characters who exhibit an “I-It” posture toward other beings, along with the grave consequences of these actions. Others, like Blixen and Marquez, have written via positive (the “positive way”), depicting the great exuberance and joy found when one denies one’s self for the sake of the other (“I-Thou”).

Some authors, such as Faulkner, Porter, and O’Connor, present stories/poetry with both character types—those who love rightly and those who do not. Choose at least four Modern works and two Postcolonial works. Compare what the authors of these seven works might suggest as the alternative to modern isolation, materialism, atheism, and mastery of “the other.”

(CAUTION: Do not simply list examples of isolation, materialism, etc. from the works you’ve studied; interpret and analyze what the author is seeking to convey in his/ her works! How does this literature challenge us to find what St. Augustine calls the ordo amoris—the right order of our loves, the right order of the human heart?)

Sample Outline:

Thesis:

The modern and postmodern authors whom we have read this semester critique the vacuity of modern isolation, materialism, atheism, and mastery of “the other” in their works, suggesting through their literary art higher possibilities for the human than the twentieth century culture status quo.
I. Isolation (define within the context of the 20th century) _________________________________________
a. Example + interpretation____________________________________________ (example from work #1)
b. Example + interpretation ____________________________________________ (example from work #1)
c. Example + interpretation ___________________________________________ (example from work #2)
II. Materialism (define within the context of the 20th century) _______________________________________
a. Example + interpretation ____________________________________________ (example from work #2)
b. Example + interpretation ____________________________________________ (example from work #3)
c. Example + interpretation ____________________________________________ (example from work #3)
III. Atheism (define within the context of the 20th century) __________________________________________
a. Example + interpretation ____________________________________________ (example from work #4)
b. Example + interpretation ____________________________________________ (example from work #4)
c. Example + interpretation ___________________________________________ (example from work #5)
IV. Mastery of “the other” (define within the context of the 20th century) ______________________________
a. Example + interpretation ____________________________________________ (example from work #6)
b. Example + interpretation ____________________________________________ (example from work #7)
c. Example + interpretation ____________________________________________ (example from work #7)

Essay Question #2: Comedy and Eschatological Hope

While the twentieth century was a period of increased pessimism, atheism, and human isolation, several of the authors whom we have read this semester have responded with comic hope.

You will recall that, according to Louise Cowan, who draws from the writings of the medieval Italian poet, Dante, there are three types of comedy: infernal, purgatorial, and paradisal. Choose from the following works at least two of each type of comedy (six works total), then write a cohesive essay that compares/contrasts the special insight that these authors share in the age of modernity and postmodernity.

You must write on at least six works.—(i.e. in infernal comedy, we see that sin is hell, that it isolates us from others and God, in purgatorial comedy, we confront the particular sins of a community that must be expelled for the whole society to go on, and with paradisal comedy, we are invited to take a “peek” at the world as it is meant to be—where faith, hope, and love reign, sinners are forgiven, and everyone is invited to the banquet table in the end– often with a “wedding” that suggests the eschatological vision of John in Revelation 19 & 21.

Infernal: “Good Country People,” O’Connor
“The Wasteland,” “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,”- Eliot
“Sunday Morning,” Stevens
Purgatorial: “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” O’Connor
“The Death of Ivan Ilych,” Tolstoy
“Barn Burning,” Faulkner
“The Jilting of Granny Weatherall,” Porter
Paradisal:
“Dream of a Ridiculous Man”- Dostoevsky
Babette’s Feast– Blixen
“The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World”- Marquez

Essay Question #3: “Tragedy and Comedy”

Throughout the second half of this semester, we have considered the literary genre of comedy in the following
works:
William Faulkner: “Barn Burning” and “The Bear”
Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen): Babette’s Feast
Katherine Anne Porter: “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall”
Flannery O’Connor: “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” “Good Country People”
Fyodor Dostoevsky- “Dream of a Ridiculous Man”
Leo Tolstoy: “The Death of Ivan Illych”
We also read one tragedy, Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman

What is the difference between comedy (infernal, purgatorial, and paradisal) and tragedy?

What kind of insights do each literary genre give us? After clearly defining the two genres, provide illustrative examples from at least five of the comic works listed above and compare/contrast these comedies to Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman.
Characteristics of Comedy (based on Dante’s Divine Comedy and Louise Cowan’s genre theory):
INFERNAL COMEDY- grotesque, characters are self-seeking/hurt one another, ends with little hope of redemption, the good ones must escape & might be harmed if they don’t escape)

PURGATORIAL COMEDY- the paradigm is the story of demons and the man who couldn’t be restrained– something must be purged for salvation!, the characters work together– especially in higher forms of purgatorial comedy, the characters are not part of the noble class– they are like you and I, there is a promise of hope– at least one character survives and will carry this hope on, although all others might be destroyed).
• PARADISAL COMEDY- a distinctly Christian genre, finding its themes from the Christian eschatological vision of redemption, forgiveness, grace, marriage (Rev. 19), feasting, love, and community).

Characteristics of Tragedy (based on Aristotle’s Poetics—a response to Plato’s polemic against poetry!)
• The tragic hero is of noble stature and better than most—a good and virtuous leader
• The tragic action in the drama results from a castigatable blindness (HAMARTIA/ “sin”/ tragic flaw) of this otherwise virtuous hero. (He is so good that the gods must perfect him through suffering!). This blindness is usually HUBRIS, or pride.
• Plot contains a reversal (PERIPETEIA) of fortune for the hero; his world falls apart!
• There is a consequent recognition (ANAGNORISIS) on behalf of the hero – “The gods are the gods, and I am not!”
• This action brings about a counterpoint of pity and terror in the audience/ reader – We pity the hero & fear that we’re like him!
• Pity & terror leads to INSIGHT IN THE AUDIENCE and effects a CATHARSIS (purging), with a subsequent restoration of the order

Grading Rubric For the Final Exam:

A Plus Essay: Strong thesis and strong thesis support. Seven works discussed thoroughly, with several textual examples given for each work to support the thesis (at least 3 specific examples from the texts in each paragraph). Essay shows evidence of having been carefully edited and is free of grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors.

B Essay: Strong thesis and fairly good thesis support. Five or six works discussed thoroughly, with several textual examples given for each work to support thesis thesis (at least 3 specific examples from the texts in each paragraph). Essay shows evidence of having been edited fairly well and is almost free of grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors.

C Essay: Weaker thesis and moderate thesis support. Four or five works discussed thoroughly, with some textual examples given for each work to support the thesis. Essay shows some evidence of having been edited but has grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors

D Essay: Weak thesis and weak thesis support. Three or four works discussed thoroughly, with some textual examples given for each work to support the thesis. Essay shows little evidence of having been edited and has grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors.

F Essay: Weak thesis and weak thesis support. Less than three works discussed. Several grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors.

Pre-Modern/ Modern Literature
Fyodor Dostoevsky: “Dream of a Ridiculous Man”
Leo Tolstoy: “The Death of Ivan Illych”
W.B. Yeats: “Second Coming,” “Easter 1916” “When You Are Old”
Wallace Stevens: “Sunday Morning”
T.S. Eliot: “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” “The Wasteland”
William Faulkner: “Barn Burning”

 

Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen): Babette’s Feast
Katherine Anne Porter: “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall”
Flannery O’Connor: “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” “Good Country People”
Postcolonial Literature
Gabriel Garcia Marquez: “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World,” “The Very Old Man with Enormous Wings”
Seamus Heaney: Nobel Price Acceptance Speech, “Digging”
Wole Soyinka: Death and the King’s Horseman