World Literature in English  Final Exam, Spring 1999

Harvest Time!

It's never too late to learn,
and it's always great --for us and for you yourself--
to know that you have learned something.

I. Search and Find; 2. Major Issues; 3. Revised & Added Questions

Last updated June 7, 1999.
I. Search and Find: Choose Three and answer each in one to two paragraphs; each 12%.  In answering these questions, don't just copy and paste what you have read.   You can quote or paraphrase the ideas and then give proper citations.
  1. Search for the biography of one author/director and explain the importance of one event in his/her life that influences the work we have read by him/her.

  3. Get one historical date or period, or one cultural element, and explains its importance to one of the texts you have read or watched.  (Don't just say that it's important; explains its influence on the characters or the themes of the work.)  (clues: go to the culture pages India & Pakistan; The Caribbean Area; Canada --National Identity & Race Relations; Toronto; Chinese Immigrants [1], [2])

  5. Go to one of the related sites (listed on each of our course-material page, or on the general relevant links page) and explain what you have learned there.

 2. Major Issues: Choose 3
Do not use the same text to answer different questions.
A. Themes 
I.  Colonization and De-Colonization
  1. Colonization -- 
    • How are the colonizers presented in "Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella of Spain Consummate Their Relationship"?  Why do we not see them in the other story by Rushdie, "Good Advice Is Rarer Than Rubies"?  Is their power present in this story, and how?
    • Why roles do the white people (including both newly arrived whites and creoles)  play in Sugar Cane Alley and Wide Sargasso Sea.   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.  (Although the two texts are set in two historical periods, they still overlap in time--with Madouze's story about his grandfather -- and we can still relate Leopold to Antoinette. )
  2. National Cultures, Movement and Gender -- 
    • Relate "Purdah I" by Imtiaz Dharker to "What Mama Knew" by Sara Suleri.    Are the women in these two texts in lack of their own identity? 
    • Revised  How does Gilead control its people and esp. women in The Handmaid's Tale?  How does the female narrator in The Handmaid's Tale reconstruct her identity in several ways?  (Answer this question by giving specific examples from the excerpt you have.)

  3. The Empire Writes Back--see explanation in "The Empire Writes Back to and from the Centre"
    • The empire can write back on linguistic level, as well as on thematic and social levels (e.g. the re-writing Jane Eyre by Wide Sargasso Sea and the introduction of the lonely Londoners by the namesake novel to make them likable)?   Use two examples of dub poetry, reggae and/or rap and analyze what they convey both through language and themes. 
 II. Diaspora Identity and Gender
  1. Diaspora & National and Cultural 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).
    • Of all the texts (stories) about Indian, Caribbean, African and Chinese diasporas, choose two to talk about their characters/speakers' cultural position/identity, and all the factors that cause such identity/position.
    • Revised  Compare "What is Worth Knowing?" with "dis poem" and/or "Dan is the Man in the Van."   How does knowledge (of different cultures) play different roles in these two poems? 

  2. Revised  Diasporas in the postmodern metropolis --It's no coincidence that we have films about postmodern cities, since the city is usually where immigrants converge (some of the cities used to be, or are, colonial centers.)   In the films Masala, Rude and The Adjuster we see different kinds of immigrants and city nomads placed in an urban environment.  Their lives as immigrants/nomads are influenced by their social position as well as the social/technological environment of the city. 
    • Analyze the role (post)modern technology and media (e.g. T.V., video, photograph, radio, airplane)  plays in two of these three films and how they get to be related to the immigrant characters.
    • Added: What do the Caribbean immigrants think about London in the novel The Lonely Londoners?  Why do they not leave if they do not feel welcome there?  What are their ways of surviving in the city and participating in the city life?  

  3. In-Between positions--In-Between position can be an awkward position or even a  dilemma for some immigrants, but it can also be a liberating place to join and transform cultures.
    • Between the extreme positions of assimilationism and separatism, how do the diasporic writers (e.g. Bharati Muhkeejee, Sam Selvon, Neil Bissoondath, Dionne Brand and Austen Clarke) we have read position themselves?  Concrete evidence can be found from their texts in their characterization (who they side with) and/or emplotment. 

  4. Race and Gender 
    • Compare and contrast the complicated relations between race and gender in Mississipi Masala and Rude.   How are women doubly victimized by both racism and sexism? 
III. Women's, Children, Working Class and Family in (Colonial) society.
    • The treatment/characterization of "working class people" in Narayan's stories.

    • What roles do money and job or women play in The Lonely Londoners?

    • How are women, children and/or family relations affected in a third-world/post-colonial society (e.g.  Wide Sargasso Sea, Meatless Days, Salaam Bombay, Sugar Cane Alley, "The Concubine's Children," etc.)

    • Added: Compare and contrast the relationships between boys and girls in Salaam Bombay, Sugar Cane Alley and "The Found Boat."  What do they do and play which reveal their respective cultural and social backgrounds?  Do you find similar kind of sexual inequality in them?  (In answering this question, you also need to consider the different messages each text conveys.)
IV. Distinct Cultural/Historical Elements of the Areas/Nations
  1. The role of Religion in the Indian/Pakistani texts (e.g. Tagore's poems, Meatless Days, Salaam Bombay, Masala)

  3. Revised  The idea of duality in the poems and novel by Margaret Atwood.  (clue: in The Handmaid's Tale, you can talk about the complicated relationships between the dominant and the powerless, or the victimizer and the victim.)

  5. Revised  The role of "family" in the texts about Chinese diaspora (e.g. "The Concubine's Children" and Double Happiness). 
B. Artistic Techniques
--You can concentrate on one text or compare two.
     1.  The use of the non-realistic genres such as allegory, parody or the fantastic (e.g. "Christopher Columbus," Masala, The Handmaid's Tale, The Adjuster, "The Found Boat")

      2. Metafictional techniques in film or novel  --e.g.  the inclusion of an author or director in the text to thematize some issues about the relationships between fiction and reality; the use of intertextuality;

      3. Poetic language in narratives -- You can also analyze some  central symbols, such as airplane, house, the use of lyricism (in The Lonely Londoners) etc.