World Literatures in English
Final Exam, Spring 2000
"Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten."
-B. F. Skinner

Before that happens, it's time to -- recollect and re-organize, compare and contrast,

create your own map and turn the knowledge into your own!!!

Rationale behind this course and this exam 
Mapping I.  Drawing lines and making shapes  . . .
  I.  Search and Relate

Mapping 2. Figuring desire, carving landscape, entering different worlds and connecting them.
II.  Major Issues:
A. Colonization and De-Colonization,
B. Children's Growth and Family Relationships in (Post-)Colonial society
C. Diaspora Identity and Gender,
D. Artistic Techniques

Altogether, you are supposed to answer 5 questions (3 short ones and two longer ones).  Since you have a lot of choices, in giving your answers
1. Do not repeat the texts you choose.
2. Avoid plagiarism!!!   Don't just copy and paste the resources you have read.   You can quote or paraphrase the ideas and then give proper citations.
3. Don't forget to write down the question before giving your answer.

I. Mapping I.  Do you know how to properly contextualize a text?

I. Choose Three Texts and shows how its authorial, social, historical and/or literary contexts influence them.  Each answer should be about three paragraphs; each 14 %. 

  Suggestions: In choosing a context, don't choose a context as broad as colonialism;

  • You can look at the biography of one author/director and explain the importance of one event or period in his/her life that influences the work we have read by him/her.  Then give two examples from the text to show how the author deals with the influences symbolically or vicariously through the characters and the story.
  • You can get one historical date or period, one cultural element, or one literary intertext, and explain its importance to one of the texts you have read or watched.  (Again, don't just say that it's important; explains its influences on the characters and the themes of the work.)
  • Besides the individual author pages we link to the syllabus, the following culture pages may help: India & Pakistan; The Caribbean Area; Canada --National Identity & Race Relations; Toronto; Chinese Immigrants [1], [2]

  • II. Mapping 2. Do you know how to enter these different but related worlds and be engaged in some of their critical issues?

    II. Major Issues: Choose 2 from the following questions and write for each an essay of at least four paragraphs.

    I. Colonization and De-Colonization
  • Colonization and Gender-- 

    1) How are the colonizersor people in political power presented differently in "Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella of Spain Consummate Their Relationship,""Children of the Sea" and Obasan

    2) Analyze the roles the white people (including both newly arrived whites and creoles)  play in two of the following text: My Beautiful Laundrette, Sugar Cane Alley, Wide Sargasso Sea, or the hunting episode in Abeng.


    --1)  Indeed, "Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella of Spain Consummate Their Relationship,""Children of the Sea" and Obasan are very very different.   Be specific about their different socio-historical contexts and discuss the different kinds of colonial mentality. 
    -- 2) Be careful not to simplify the roles: there is a distinction between rich and poor whites; also, there is a difference between the white teacher, the white master and the white female master in Sugar.
  • Language and Postcolonial Resistance -- 

  • Colonial resistance can be done in a literary/filmic work on both the linguistic and the thematic levels. 
    3)  Use two examples of mixing of different languages (e.g. English and Caribbean creole, English and Chinese or Hindi expressions) and analyze what they convey both through language uses and themes. 


  • The Empire Writes Back--see explanation in "The Empire Writes Back to and from the Centre"
  •  II. Children's Growth and Family Relationships in (Post-)Colonial society

  • 5) How are children (their education and gendering process and/or family relations) affected in a colonial or post-colonial society (e.g.  Wide Sargasso Sea, Salaam Bombay, Sugar Cane Alley, The Hunting episode in Abeng, "The Concubine's Children," Obasan, etc.)?  Choose two to analyze and compare.

    6) Compare and contrast the different social positions of the boys and girls in Salaam Bombay, Sugar Cane Alley  and/or Clare and Zoe in Abeng.  What do they do and play which reveal their respective cultural and social backgrounds?  Do you find similar kind of sexual or class inequality in them?  (In answering this question, you also need to consider the different messages each text conveys and their social contexts.)

    III. Immigrants' cultural and Gender Identity 
    7) Of all the texts (stories) about Indian, Caribbean, African and Chinese diasporas, choose two to talk about their characters/speakers' cultural position and/or gender identity, and all the factors that cause such cultural/gender identity.

    Diaspora's National, Cultural and Gender Identity 
    --One person's national identity can be the same with his/her cultural identity (e.g. being Taiwanese from top to toe), but the two can also be different.  Immigrants seem to have more choices in defining their cultural identity, but the conditions for their choices are actually very complicated and usually beyond their control.  For instance, a Taiwanese immigrant to U.S., whose national identity is American, can choose to be an American, a Taiwanese "at heart" (a permanent sojourner always waiting for homecoming), a Taiwanese-American (emphasizing both), and a Taiwanese American (emphasizing the latter).
    -- The immigrants' difficulties in choosing a cultural identity or confirming it may be compounded by his/her gender identity or psychological sense of lack.

  • Race and Gender 

    8) Compare and contrast the complicated relations between race and gender in one film and one literary work about Asian or Caribbean diasporas, or two literary texts.  Possible choices: "Griff!," "The Concubine's Children,"  Mississipi Masala and Rude

    Of the possible intersections of racial and sexual relations in the texts, 
    some characters are doubly victimized by both racism and sexism, 
    some are raically superior but sexually inferior, 
    some makes use of sex to make up for their sense of racial inferiority, 
    and some sexually subordinate to their men, but more powerful because of the special racial environment of their host nation. 

    IV. Explain  one distinct cultural and social element of the Areas/Nations and anayze how it is used in a text: 

    9) The role of Caste and internal migrants in the Indian texts (e.g. Tagore's poems, "Anamalai," Salaam Bombay, and The God of Small Things)

    10) The use of either 
    -- voodoo 
    -- or Krik? Krak! in Caribbean texts.

    11) The role of "family" in the texts about Chinese and Korean diasporas (e.g. "The Concubine's Children," Double Happiness and "Prey"). 

    12) The title "Obasan" or the differences among Issei, Nisei and Sansei in Obasan.

    B. Artistic Techniques

    --You can either concentrate on one text or compare two.
         13).  The use of dreams in different texts such as Wide Sargasso Sea, Obasan.

         14). The use of parody or intertextuality in different texts such as Midnight's Children, Wide Sargasso Sea, Obasan

         15). Poetic language in poems or narratives -- You can also analyze some  central symbols (e.g. plastic heart and golf ball in "Lady from Lucknow"; "Great House" in "Ruins of a Great House" and the carboard house at the end of Wide Sargasso Sea; Butterfliesin "Children of the Sea"), dominant images (e.g. color imagery).

    Good luck!