Final Notes



  The final exam is this coming Saturday, May 1, from 2 - 5 p.m.. I'll hand it out in our classroom at about 1:50. You'll be able to take it wherever you want (and use a word processor if you want), as long as you're back with it in Rouss 202 by 5 or 5:10. You can bring the books we've read, if you want, but I don't want you to bring your notes to the exam.

  It will be an essay-exam, in two parts. In both parts you'll have a range of questions to choose from. I'll try to ask questions that will allow you to develop your own ideas, though I'll also ask you to make your answers as specific as you can -- i.e. to give textual examples to support your readings. We won't expect exact quotations, but we will look for an ability to move constantly back and forth between your ideas about a text and the thing itself, i.e. evidence in the text for your ideas.

  The questions in Part I will involve specific comparisons between two specific texts -- like the questions on the
VIRTUAL MIDTERM, except the questions will cover the whole semester, not just half.

  The questions in Part II will be broader: I'll define a theme or issue we saw in at least several of the works on our reading list, and you'll be able to pick the works (from all the works on our reading list) that you'll discuss in answering them. You'll answer two questions in Part I, and one in Part II.

  If you've been doing the reading thoughtfully all along, you're probably prepared to take the exam already. But one good way to study for it would be to look over the reading list, and try to imagine "good" questions: what other specific texts Whitman's poetry, for example, could be matched with for Part I; what themes, issues, concerns have come up again and again through the semester for questions in Part II.

  As you come up with questions, please feel free to e-mail them to me. I won't make up the exam until mid-week, so I'll definitely think about using the questions you send.

  If you want to get together with other students between now and Saturday to study for the exam -- to try to anticipate the questions, to talk about American literature, to help build a community -- feel free to do so. Remember what Huck says: when "things get mixed up, and the juice kind of swaps around . . . the things go better." He's talking about cooking, but it works for learning too.

  You'll be able to pick up your second essays at the end of the final exam. We're almost done!

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