Midterm Study Guide Engl 106

The purpose of this study guide is not to indicate exactly what will be on the exam. The ideas below (which we've discussed in class) are intended to help you think about the works we've read and studied so far this semester.  Use these study guide ideas with 1.) your notes and own ideas to think about the short stories/novella we have read along with 2.) your review/rereading of the literature itself. Don't forget the biographical intros. and study questions for each story that give you helpful ideas. You might also reread the intro material on reading and interpreting fiction. And be sure to review the Course Notes.

Movie adaptations we watched (on reserve in the library) are important for considering how stories can be interpreted.  Consult your notes.

Write out practice responses to previous quiz questions as well as questions you make up. Remember the quizzes we went over in class. The cards you used for group work in class have good notes.

**The midterm will draw from all works on the syllabus we've read so far, up to TIM, and including "The Most Dangerous Game."  No books or notes during the exam.

Possible question types:

  1. Identifications: You will identify an unnamed passage (give the title of the story) and explain its significance. I will not give you short, obscure passages.
  2. Multiple choice, fill in the blank, or matching*
  3. Short Answer*  Think of individual works as well as connections among works.

*Like quiz questions. Also, you will have some choices.

Time for midterm: 75 mins.

Consider our two main themes (see syllabus) and how stories cross over these themes, e.g.,
TIM -  Individual & Society. Stories listed here are examples; think of others too.  Key terms: short story, novella, passive resistance, gothic, Babylon, game theory (games of chance and skills), American Dream, commodity fetishism, income inequality (or the income gap), horror, invisibility, scientific method: deduction and induction.

Individual and Society

    1.  Capitialism--A number of stories we've read discuss this theme (e.g., "Bartleby, the Scrivener," "The Rocking-Horse Winner," "The Lesson").  What do these stories say about money and captialism, particularly its negative effects?  More specifically, what is the relationship of capitalism to consumerism? (Concept of commodity fetishism?) Do these stories offer solutions?  Or just critiques?  Do women and minorities have special concerns or worries? Finally, in what ways are money and  capitialism linked to the American Dream?

    2. Individualism & The Need for Society/Community--how does one balance one's individual desires and needs with the demands/requirements of belonging to society or a community?  Is this possible without selling out or compromising one's own values, beliefs, and feelings?  Is withdrawing from society a feasible solution sometimes?  Can an individual just reject society and do his or her own thing?  What would happen if everyone did this?  Consider these questions in stories such as "Bartleby the Scrivener," "A Rose for Emily," and TIM.

    3. Game playing--"The Most Dangerous Game," "The Lottery," and "The Rocking-Horse Winner" are examples of stories that discuss game playing (or more broadly "play.")  What does it mean to play a game of chance?  Skill? Are games always playful?  Why do these (and other) stories invoke game playing?  As a metaphor?  Or some stronger connection/attraction?  What does our attraction to/obsession with game playing reveal about the societies in these stories?  Our own society?

    4.  Gender--Don't most of our stories deal with men/masculine issues?  What is the role of women in these stories?  What can you say about the nature of these masculine worlds? Does masculinity tie into other issues--capitialism, individualism, game playing?

Extraordinary and Fantastic

    1. Invisibility--We discussed these in three ways, based on our reading from introductory essay from the Penguin edition of TIM:  as fantasy/extraordinary, psychological, and scientific.  Related to this, we made the larger division between literal and metaphorical invisibility.  Consider the ramifications of invisibility (e.g., TIM, "A Rose for Emily," "Bartleby the Scrivener")

    2. Horror/Terror--Using ideas from the Course Notes (Poe and Stephen King), think about what horror means and the function it serves. Horror and terror introduce us to strange and fantastic events or occurences that are ultimately rooted in our own fears and impulses. Think of horror not as a physcial reaction to external situations but as a psychological manifestation of our inner beings. (TIM, "The Cask of Amontillado," "The Lottery")

    3. Understanding the Mysterious--How do we react to the mysterious? Unusual? What do mysterious events or occurences reveal about how we understand our society? About what we really can know?  Look up "extraordinary."  How do we view people and situations who/that are extraordinary?  Consider these questions using, for example, TIM and "Bartleby."

Other ideas/themes you can think of?

How Short Stories are Written

1. Consider how a well-crafted short story integrates plot (and setting), character, point of view, and theme.  Some examples might be "Babylon Revisited," "The Cask of Amontillado."  Consider Poe's defintion of a short story (Course Notes--excerpt from his review of Hawthorne's Twice-Told Tales).  Be able to discuss the relevant ideas concerning the four main elements of a story listed above.  How is TIM, a novella, related to a short story:  Its similarities and differences?