LITR 5831 World / Multicultural Literature:

Final Exam Assignment 2015

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Schedule & Format—both options are open-book and open-notebook.

  • Write exam in-class during final exam period (7-9:50, Tuesday 1 or 8 December 2015)
  • Write and send by email anytime after last class meeting—deadline is midnight Wednesday, 9 Dec.

Notify instructor if you will take the exam in-class; office hours 1 & 8 December: 4-10pm

Content: 2 essays of app. 2 hours each.

Length: At least 6-8 paragraphs each. Best essays are usually longer than average, overflowing with relevant ideas connecting texts, objectives, terms, instruction, discussions, presentations, research, and outside knowledge and experience.

Essay 1: Describe and evaluate your learning experience, referring to texts, seminar, objectives, research, and midterm. (may incorporate or overlap with midterm essay[s])

Essay 2: Referring to Objectives 1 & 2, compose a dialogue between at least four texts (at least 3 since midterm) on a topic, theme, issue, or objective of your choice (Objectives in addition to 1 & 2 may be included.)


  • Both essays must have titles.

  • Make at least one reference to a previous final exam submission from Model Assignments from earlier course offering (links above); alternatively, refer to another Model Assignment from a previous year.

  • In Essay 1, make at least one reference to your midterm submission. (Such references may be extended.)

Helpful hints:

  • Most common error in midterms was disregard of Course Objectives in syllabus.

  • Meet your reader by using shared terms as well as references to shared texts and objectives.

Essay 1: Describe, prioritize, and evaluate your learning experience in our seminar, referring to the following sources:

2-3 course texts

seminar experience (e.g., moments, methods, exchanges that propelled your learning)

your midtermreview, evaluate, & extend or transition

one or both of your research posts, or your research project (essay or journal)

Objective 3: To account for Americans’ difficulties with colonial and postcolonial discourse.

other Course Objectives

content (ideas, insights) from student presentations, seminar discussions, methods, or lectures—what highlights? What worked and what didn't? What built on previous learning, what challenged previous learning, what surprised you?

Integrate these and other dimensions of our reading, research, and discussions into a central comprehensive thesis concerning a "learning outcome" or assessment of how your learning in this seminar might contribute to the progress of your career.

Following are potential prompts or cuesnot a checklist:

"Learning experience" or "learning outcome" is not necessarily a life-changing experience. Apply the seminar to your developing personal and professional profile. Instructor wants to know what students enter knowing and thinking, and what parts of the course do students connect to and carry with them.

What aspects of the course (content, texts, or methods) did you found most challenging or rewarding? What have you learned relative to your career as a reader, teacher, or researcher?

Essay 2: Referring to Objectives 1 & 2, compose a dialogue between at least four texts (at least 3 since midterm) on a topic, theme, issue, or objective of your choice (Objectives in addition to 1 & 2 may be included.)


Choose a central topic, theme, issue, or objective for your essay-dialogue; e.g., gender, tradition & modernity, voice, self & other.

For other dialogue-topic possibilities, review course objectives or discussion questions.

Your essay must refer extensively to Objectives 1 (colonial-postcolonial dialogue) & 2 (novel as defining genre). ("Extensively" means more than just one or two token mentions.)


Consider Obj. 2a: "How may literary fiction instruct or deepen students’ knowledge of world history and international relations compared to history, political science, anthropology, etc.?" Evaluate fiction's (and poetry's?) usefulness for learning about the colonial-postcolonial dynamic and other issues in world cultural history.

What do you learn from intertextuality or dialogue that differs from single-text or single-author studies?

Required texts or sources: (At least two of your texts should be from the five fictions immediately below)

The Man Who Would be King, Train to Pakistan, Jasmine, Things Fall Apart, Heart of Darkness

Other possible texts or sources: (Welcome to refer to any text(s) before midterm, but keep refocusing on texts since midterm.)


Derek Walcott, “A Far Cry from Africa”

Walcott, "The Season of Phantasmal Peace"

W. B. Yeats, “The Second Coming”

Leopold Sedar Senghor, from A Prayer for Peace

Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"


Critical sources:

Achebe, "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness"

Chinua Achebe, "Named for Victoria, Queen of England" (handout / PDF)

article on wife-beating in Africa; Talking their Way out of a Population Crisis;

"Passage from India" article regarding potential 4th wave of colonialism / immigration

any other articles or resources on syllabus


The Man Who Would Be King

White Teeth

E. O. Wilson: Of Ants and Men

Rabbit-Proof Fence

Apocalypse Now

The Quiet American

Evaluation standards

Evaluation standards: As in most Literature courses, quality of reading and writing is the key to judging excellent work from competent work—not just reproducing data but organizing it into a unified, compelling essay.

Readability & surface competence: At the graduate level, competence with surface issues like spelling, punctuation, and grammar is taken for granted. An occasional careless error won't kill your grade, given time pressures, but repeated or chronic errors are remarked and factored.

Content quality: Exams require comprehension of subject, demonstration of learning, and expression of instructional contents, but excellence is achieved by students extending or refreshing what they learn with new examples, insights, and expression. Make your reader *want* to process your writing by making its materials meaningful. Make everything matter to our study of literature and culture.

Thematic Organization: Unify materials along a line of thought that a reader can follow from start to finish. Thematic continuity and transitions are essential. Connect parts to form larger ideas. Pause between paragraphs to review what you've written or to preview what comes next. Summarize. Explain. Review and preview.

Additional considerations:

Audience: Write so someone in our seminar could recognize your terms and explanations and enjoy your personal contributions and style. Future students may read your essays in our "Model Assignments." Keep the instructor in sight—connect with shared terms and texts, and "write up" in terms of organization and ambition of thought.

Balance course contents with your unique development. Your instructor naturally likes to see you valuing and using his ideas from lecture and syllabus, but mere repetition or coverage is frustrating, so integrate instructor's and course's materials with your intellect, your voice, your career and aspirations. Worst possible reaction: "You could have written this essay without taking the course."

Instructor's Reaction & continuing dialogue:

About a week after submission, you'll receive an email from the instructor including your grade report with your research grade, your final exam grade, and notes.

Consider replying to instructor. Graduate students work-relations with faculty somewhere between colleague-status and master-apprentice. Discussing written work can be a starting point for learning to interact with faculty and advanced professional development. If you don't communicate in this way, look for other opportunities. Professors can be intimidating, remote, or unhip, but we're used to cooperating if you cultivate chances. We're just older, more corrupt versions of yourselves!

Unisphere at 1964 World's Fair, NYC