I . Theoretical Terms: (Choose two;
each answered in about three paragraphs)
Choose two terms/statements
below; define its meanings, discuss its related issues and then use
a text (literary or cultural text) as an example of what you've discussed. (The
following pagination is that of our textbook's.)
1. "In language there are only differences," Saussure. (43)
feminine writing (or 'ecriture feminine') (25-)
approach to representation (59-61)
the biotic pyramid (118-)
6. binary opposition and semiotic rectangle
7. Activity/Passivity Sun/Moon
Culture/Nature Day/Night Father/Mother
Head/Heart Intelligible/Palpable Logos/Pathos (26)
8. [In the signifying process
of contemporary myth], the first, completed meaning [signified] functions as the
signifier in the second stage of the representation process, and when linked
with a wider theme by a reader, yields a second, more elaborate and
ideologically framed message or meaning. Barthes calls this second level
of signification the level of myth.(66)
9. The writer
writes in a language and in a logic whose proper systems, laws,
and life his discourse by definition cannot dominate absolutely,
He uses them by only letting himself, after a fashion and to
a point, be governed by the system. And the reading must
always aim at a certain relationship, unperceived by the writer,
between what he commands and what he does not command of the
patterns of language that he uses. (72)
II. General Questions:
(choose two; each answered in an essay form)
B. Gender and Nature:
- context = conceptual framework: How are
meanings produced in a text through different levels of signification (e.g.
developing from denotation to cultural connotations)? How is textual unity
achieved? Do a structuralist reading of either "The Blind Man" (by
D. H. Lawrence) or "Ode on Melancholy" (by
John Keats) and
then a deconstructive reading of it. In other words, find out
its basic pattern and how its meanings are developed and unified around
it, and then its binaries, gaps or contradictions to prove that its meanings are undecidable
context = social context: New Critics
believe that a text is an objective, self-contained and autonomous entity
whose meaning transcend its time and space. Placing a text
in a certain context, however, can either add to the meanings we have found
in the text or deny them. Choose a text and do a new critical
reading of it. Then place it in a certain context (social,
historical or theoretical) and explain how meanings are enriched or
context = intertextuality: Context can also mean the
other texts a text refers to and/or gets influenced by, and their
"inter-textual" relationship can be various, ranging from
respectful citation (Wordsworth's self-quotation in
'Immortality Ode'), parody (Daffodil poems; 某些雙人舞),
revision (the fairy-tale pattern in "Should Wizard Hit Mommy,"
"The Long Enchantment," Into the Woods), to pastiche
and unconscious inscription (male gaze in some
commercials featuring women, Noble Savage in Nell). Choose
two texts and
compare their different usages of their 'intertexts.'
C. Language and society, Literary Criticism & Self-Reflexivity (of
the texts and ours):
Undoubtedly, most women in patriarchal
society have been in an inferior or disadvantaged position. However, in
the works by women, the female characters are not always presented as victims.
How are they victimized and/or empowered? Use either Surfacing
or two texts from the following list to analyze women's positions in patriarchal
society and the (im)possibilities of their self-assertion. (Possible
Jilting of Granny Weatherall,” “Fifteen-Dollar Eagle,” “Spelling”〈安卓珍妮〉“Universal
Grammar” and the poems by
Christina Rossetti and 夏宇.)
Of the common concerns in feminist works
(visual and filmic works included), language, housekeeping and gendered and
sexual identities are three that we have discussed in class. Choose
two texts from the following list to discuss their ways of engaging these issues
(i.e. the questions they raise and the answers they give).
(Possible choices: all included in no. 4 question; work by Cindy Sherman and
Barbara Kruger, Freda, If These Walls Could Talk II, and Into the Woods.)
Do a semiotic reading of a text (or a group
of texts; e.g. landscape
paintings, commercials using nature to sell, natural landscape in films, etc.) to examine how they construct some
myth of 'Nature.'
What roles does Nature play in the
Romantic poems we have read? And how does Nature interact with the poems'
speakers? How are Mary Oliver's poems different from the previous group?
Choose at least two poems--one from each group-- as your examples.
- Structuralism, deconstruction,
feminism and ecocriticism
all posit some theories about "language and
society/eco-system," what are their differences
and similarities? (For instance, how is language
related to society or ecosystem, the former serving as the latter's models,
imposing its prejudices, or as a means to move beyond the anthropocentric?
Society as a network of contradictory languages, or eco-system as
interconnectedness beyond the mapping of human languages?) Choose two
theoretical schools (and two theorists of these schools) as your focus and
then express your own views.
What is literary criticism? Why do we need
to take different approaches? What else do we do besides taking different
approaches to a text? To answer this question,
a. Use the following
pattern to discuss 2 of the various approaches you have learned; i.e. New
Criticism, structuralism/semiotics, feminism, postmodernism,
poststructuralism, and ecocriticism.
b. Choose a text to practice
the two approaches.
The text's, and ours
|| ---- READER
c. And . . .explain
what else we can do.
10. another meta-question:
What aspects of the class are not covered by this
final exam? What kinds of power relations or ideologies can be implied
in concluding a course with a final exam? What are your reasons to
be for or against having a final exam in a college course like this?