The final exam is scheduled for Tuesday, May 1, 12-3 p.m. It is worth 15% of your overall grade for the course (your final project [researched argument+creative response is worth twice that, at 30%). You should expect to use around 2 of the available 3 hours to complete the exam. In other words: you will all have plenty of time to think, write, revise, and edit in the time allotted. We will do this on OAKS, as with the midterm, and will trust that it won’t freak out this time.
As with the midterm, I envision the final exam as an opportunity for you to make some connections we haven’t explicitly or directly made across the texts we’ve read and discussed this semester. The final exam, like the midterm, is also a space for you to pursue individual analyses in further depth than class discussion allows. I will be most interested in seeing how you are thinking analytically and critically about the different themes that arose this semester and how you articulate those ideas in this written (rather than oral classroom) forum.
The exam will have two sections: the first, like the midterm, is focused on only part of the course (in this case, the last section, post-midterm), and the second, unlike the midterm, is focused on the course materials as a whole and is thus cumulative in nature. However, this cumulative portion will not assume of you an in-depth engagement with the individual texts under discussion. Instead, it will require you to make connections and generalizations, rather than providing, for instance, close readings.
Section 1: Passage Explanation (as on the midterm).
You will be given 4 passages (from both imaginative and critical texts, this time, from the texts listed for Part I, below) and for 3 of them you will explain their significance. You will be given information about the author and page number from which the excerpt was taken, so you can turn to that for further context if needed. Each explanation should be 3-5 sentences long, and you should spend as much time on the three of these that you spend on one very short essay response (Section 2). Each explanation will be worth 5% of the exam grade (with Section 1 then worth 15% of the exam grade).
Section 2: Very Short Essay Responses
You will have 5 prompts, 3 of which you will respond to. These prompts will center on passages from texts we’ve read and discussed since the midterm. (Texts for Part I are listed below.) Each will require a response of 250-300 words, in the form of a 2-paragraph (very short) essay, akin to your weekly blog posts but more formal and perhaps more carefully planned and proofread than blogposts sometimes are. They will, of course, also be more carefully directed (thanks to the prompts) than are your weekly blogposts. Each will be worth 17% of the exam grade (with Section 2 then worth 51% of the exam grade).
These prompts will center on passages from texts we’ve read and discussed since the midterm. Each prompt will direct your attention to a particular aspect of the texts in question, and you will produce a response. Be especially careful to spend your time analyzing rather than describing, with your interpretive claims and the evidence you select to support them most influential in my reception of your responses. Be careful, too, to respond fully to the prompt.
PART II: Cumulative
You will write one longer essay, in response to 1 of 3 prompts. The prompts will require you to consider ideas that were encountered and generated in the second half of the semester with texts and ideas from the first half of it. This essay will be worth 34% of the exam grade
The texts covered by the first part of the exam are:
Marie de France, “Bisclavret” [OAKS]
Gerald of Wales, The Topography of Ireland, Author’s first and second prefaces (pp. 1-6) and Distinction II, chapter XIX (pp. 44-47) [OAKS]
Howie, “The Edge of Enclosure” (pp. 22-23: the Old French life of Jehan Paulus) [OAKS]
William of Palerne
Julian of Norwich, Showings (chapters 1-12, 25, 27-39, 45-52, 57)
Margery Kempe, Book of Margery Kempe (pages vii-xxii; chapters 1-40, 63-66, 72-74, 79-82)
Bynum interview [OAKS]
Bynum Introduction [OAKS]
Hayles, “After Shocks: Posthuman Ambivalence” (OAKS)
Akbari, “Becoming Human” (OAKS)
Shaw, “Embodiment and the Human Form, Dante through Tomorrow” (OAKS)
Bynum ch. 4 [OAKS]
Nuth (Julian book pp. 176-90)
Beckwith (Margery book pp. 284-88)
Bynum (Margery book pp. 288-99)
The texts covered by the second part are those listed above as well as the following:
Egan, “Learning to Be Me”
Winterson, Stone Gods
Atwood, Oryx & Crake
Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go
Hayles: Prologue and chapters 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8. 9, 11
Davis, “If the Human is Finished, What Comes Next?”
Winner, “Are Humans Obsolete?”
Graham: Introduction and chapters 1, 2, 5, 10
Miah, “A Critical History of Posthumanism”
Damasio, chapter 1
During the exam, you will be able to refer to notes and to books. You will have more time than you did during the midterm, but even so, before the exam you should familiarize yourself with the texts, especially the ones for Part I of the exam.
As you will recall, the prompts will encourage you to put the imaginative and the critical texts in conversation (rather than having a whole prompt on a single imaginative text alone or a single critical text). You will be best prepared for that if you do some thinking, before the exam, about how particular critical texts and imaginative texts could be usefully put together, in terms of their discussions of the key concepts of the course.
Don’t forget about the class resource of the Review of the Week, which you’ll conveniently find archived on the course blog.
**An extra credit opportunity exists to earn up to 5 extra points on your final exam grade by posting to the blog a question you would like to see on the exam itself. The question could be for either Part 1 (section 1 or section 2) or Part 2 of the final. To get full credit, you need to indicate which section of the exam it would best suit. These are due Sunday, April 29 at 11pm.**