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Midterm Exam Example

This midterm exemplifies a common structure of an in-class exam. It is broken into four sections and each section focuses on one aspect of the class. Part one emphasizes literary theory and genre issues, the second requires students to discuss important passages/quotes from the texts, the third focuses on plot and other literary devices, and the last section consists of a few short essays which reinforce important concepts from the class. This exam provides students with a chance to earn a few extra credit points for knowing some of the more obscure information discussed in class.

E238 Midterm Exam      Name: _______________________

I.  Lectures—Fill in the blank with the correct answer for these definitions based on the major lectures and literary theory terms discussed in class: (2 points each)

1.  Much of Modernism’s pessimism stems from the brutal treatment of people toward each other during the historical event of __________________.

2.  The setting for dystopian literature is usually (time and place) ________________________.

3.  ______________ is one of the founders of Postcolonialism and author of Orientalism.

4.  Freud’s label for the subconscious including all of our instinctual desires or where the irrational in our psyches resides is called the ________________.

5.  _____________________ is the geographic-based term for creating new thought or activity according to Deleuze’s theory of Minor Literature.  An example would be a mouth meant originally for eating developing speech.

6.  A ‘back to nature’-type utopia is called ________________.

7.  The inability of consciousness to distinguish reality from fantasy, especially in technologically advanced postmodern cultures is called _________________.

8.  ___________________________ is a narrative technique in which a character’s thoughts or perceptions are presented as occurring in a random form, without regard for logical sequences, syntactic structure, distinctions between various levels of reality and the like.

9.  Kafka’s works reveal qualities of Minor Literature because he shows two levels of being a(n) ____________________.

10.  ________________ is the term for culturally constructed roles of masculine and feminine.

11.  Instead of the center, Postmodernism often makes the _______________ the topic of study or focus.

12.  _________________ is the term used for the Western hemisphere and its people.

13.  ‘Utopia’ is Greek for __________________ (two possibilities, but state only one—no E.C.).

14.  In Modernism, there was a societal shift from agrarian/farming production to ___________.

15.  One aspect that separates Postmodernism from Modernism is that Postmodernism celebrates the breakdown of _____________.

Extra Credit (2 points):  Realism was a reaction to what previous intellectual movement: _____________________

II. Quote Identification—State the title, author, and a brief overall idea of the following quotations: (4 points each—1 point each for title & author, and 2 points for significance)

“And there is a dignity in people; a solitude; even between husband and wife a gulf; and that one must respect . . . for one would not part with it oneself, or take it, against his will, from one’s husband, without losing one’s independence, one’s self-respect—something, after all, priceless.”




“He is superior to us.  We are all sinners.  Why, why is anyone superior to another? Why are we all sinners?”



“And these two triangles somehow canceled each other out, made an unpleasant, irritating X on her face, like a cross.  Her face was crossed out.”




“Slaves judged other slaves like the auctioneer and his clients judged them.  Was there no end to slavery?  Was a slave condemned to serve another Master as soon as he got rid of one?  Were overseers to be replaced by new overseers?  Was this some game, some fickle punishment for sins committed in former lives?  Slavery on top of slavery?  Would he ever be free to do what he pleased as long as he didn’t interfere with another man’s rights?  Slaves held each other in bondage; a hostile stare from one slave criticizing the behavior of another slave could be just as painful as a spiked collar—a gesture as fettering as a cage.”




“And so, while the women were in the next room, leaning against the desk to catch their breath, he broke out, changing direction four times, for he was truly at a loss about what to rescue first—when he saw the picture of the woman clad in nothing but furs hanging blatantly on the otherwise empty wall.  He quickly scrambled up to it and squeezed against the glass, which held him fast, soothing his hot belly.”


III.  Plot and Characters—Answer the plot and character identification questions below.  You must get the answer correct in its entirety to get credit: (2 points each)

1.  The first name of Bakha’s sisteris _________________.

2.  Before leaving to Canada, Quickskill lives in a Northern town called __________________.

3.  Gregor Samsa’s father throws a(n) ________________ at Gregor’s back which becomes permanently embedded.

4.  _______________ is the name for the revolutionary group attempting to overthrow the Benefactor in We.

5.  Clarissa goes shopping for _______________ at the beginning of Mrs. Dalloway.

6.  The Hunger Artist is only allowed to fast for ________ days while performing for the towns.

7.  Swille’s slave in charge of domestic duties and who dances with Lincoln is _____________.

8.  ______________ befriends, tutors, and attempts to ‘grasp’ Clarissa’s daughter, Elizabeth.

9.  Charat Singh gives Bakha a(n) ______________.

10.  The narrative point of view in We is ________________________.

Extra Credit: (3 points)
In Mrs. Dalloway, the woman whose countenance and demeanor is like a military general but needs men to write her letters to the paper is __________________________.

IV.  Short Essays—Choose two of the following and answer them in a short essay (one to two paragraphs each) on the back of this sheet.  Extra paper is available at my desk if needed.  Read the prompt directions carefully: (15 points each)

1.  Instead of some concept of a total ‘freedom’ or complete human agency/autonomy, we have explored the idea of ‘ways out’ for various characters and their predicaments.  Explain the possible ‘ways out’ for one character and her/his situation in a piece we read.  Which ‘ways out’ pose problems and which are favored?

2.  Discuss the idea of humanity’s inability to communicate in one of the pieces we read.

3.  Focusing on one character in a piece we read, discuss the character’s search for identity and what makes the search problematic.

4.  Discuss ‘subjective reality’ or the idea that people are trapped in their own minds.  What does that mean and how does one of the works portray this idea?  What symbols convey this idea?

5.  Discuss how one of the pieces we read shatters a traditional binary/dichotomy instituted by society.  You may focus on a character’s role, a theme, or an author’s twist on a genre.