Essay Topics to Prepare for the Final Examination


Grade distributions: Midterm = 40%, paper = 15%, class participation= 15%, and final examination = 30%


1.Using "What the Thunder Said" and other parts of the poem, discuss how The Wasteland points to both the stylistic and thematic connections — and disconnections — between Eliot's modernism and the Victorians. Identify one or more major characteristics of the Victorian and the Modernist world views, and refer specifically to the work of individual poets.

2. The Norton Anthology places Yeat's work in a liminal or transitional period between Victorianism and Modernism. Concentrating upon "The Second Coming", write an essay that argues for Yeats as a Modernist. Be sure to acknowledge the poem's thematic and formal links to Victorianism, but emphasize the specific elements of Modernism as they appear in the poem. Please use biographical argument sparingly.

3. Using specific details from at least three works read since the midterm, show how and why each could be entitled "The Heart of Darkness." Be specific about how this title resonates within the texts you choose.

4. Such she often felt herself — struggling against terrific odds to maintain her courage; to say: "But this is what I see; this is what I see," and so to clasp some miserable remnant of her vision to her breast, which a thousand forces did their best to pluck from her. And it was then too, in that chill and windy way, as she began to paint, that there forced themselves upon her other things, her own inadequacy, her insignificance, keeping house for her father off the Brompton Road....

Referring specifically this passage from To The Lighthouse, explain how Woolf's themes (such a women's social position and the gendering of the artist) and narrative techniques (such as stream of consciousness, free indirect discourse, and split subjectivity) provide a challenge to the masculinist Modernist literary tradition while also writing within it.

5. Drawing upon work by Yeats, Joyce, Eliot, Walcott, Soyinka, Vera and others, show how the "empire writes back" In the twentieth century. In particular, explain some of the ways British imperial subjects used texts in English to redefine identities transformed by the colonial experience.

6. How do Eliot and Joyce use middle-aged men in "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and "The Dead" to provide a critique of modern Western civilization. Consider the author's ideas about the specific historical moment — that is, relate their themes and ideas to particular historical contexts.

7. Her lips were red, her looks were free,
Her locks were yellow as gold:
Her skin was as white as leprosy,
The Night-mare LIFE-IN-DEATH was she,
Who thicks man's blood with cold.

Using the excerpt from the "Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner" as a starting point, consider how this poem and at least two other texts from the following construct a historically specific femininity: Heart of Darkness, To the Lighthouse, Nehanda, "Goblin Market," "The Blessed Damozel," and The Wasteland


Some Hints on Improving Your Writing
 English 32 Syllabus Postcolonial Literature Postcolonial Literature

Incorporated in the Victorian Web July 2000

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