Exam Strategy

I tried to list them in the order of the safest first because we discussed most of them in class, moving down to the ones I like more, but still need some work. The ones with asterisks are the ones that I haven’t found specific sources for yet, but I’ll keep looking.


-“The Dream of the Rood” and Dreaming in the Middle Ages.

– “The Yellow Wallpaper,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and/or “Bartleby the Scrivener” with Shen’s, “Edgar Allan Poe’s Aesthetic Theory, the Insanity Debate, and the Ethically Oriented Dynamics of ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’”

** Herbert’s “The Collar”. I need a historical source to focus on the political climate he wrote in (The Poetry Foundation biography is good). I’d probably compare the content that Herbert was able to publish openly in comparison to another metaphysical poet, so I’d need another source.

** The Importance of Being Earnest with a historical source that gives context to the literary movements or trends at the time. The article “Profiles and Principles: The Sense of the Absurd in The Importance of Being Earnest” touches on it a little with the focus on aestheticism. I’d like to also talk about Aestheticism’s relationship to the Decadence movement, since Algernon (name of the protagonist) is also the name a famous Decadence writer. I think this context, and Wilde’s dislike of this particular writer helps better explain the satire of the play and the point made in Spininger’s article (that the plays triviality is meant to show the importance of meaning despite the absurd).

** “Bartleby the Scrivener” and “A Modest Proposal,” either together or separately, depending on what historical sources I can find. I want to compare the economic climate of each and how each author is critiquing it (the growing loneliness of the worker in 19th century America, and the idea that people are the riches of the nation in 18th century Ireland).



** Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and The Buried Giant, with “Introduction: Theories and Debates” & Alan Lane, “The End of Roman Britain and the Coming of the Saxons: An Archaeological Context for Arthur?” to compare the Arthurian tradition to another genre (possibly Westerns like Chani suggested).

** “Bartleby” and “A Modest Proposal”, again comparing the economic critique, but this time focusing on how one uses the form of a short story and the other uses satire.

– The Dickinson poems “Funeral in The Brain” and “The Brain is Wider Than the Sky” as following the tradition of conceits in metaphysical poetry. I could add another poem by a metaphysical poet possibly, if the question needed it. These two poems specifically relate well to Andrew Marvell’s “The Garden”.



– Bhabha and “Leaves from the Mental Portfolio of an Eurasian”

– “The Yellow Wallpaper” and Bak’s, “Escaping the Jaundiced Eye: Foucouldian Panopticism in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’” but I’m not sure what I would say beyond repeating the article’s claims.

– Use Foucault’s “Panopticism” directly with “The Tell-Tale Heart” and talking about the narrator’s obsession with the old man’s eye and his own power to terrify the man with his invisible presence in the dark.

– The God of Small Things with any one of the sources I found during the seminar paper. The best ones for a short essay are probably Foucault’s “Panopticon”, Chu’s theory on sci-fi, or a small section from Robert Nixon’s Slow Violence: Environmentalism of the Poor.


The Flexible (these could be in more than one category, but I’m not sure):

The Buried Giant with Chu’s theory of sci-fi to look at the role of memory in the book. It could obviously fit theory because I’m using Chu’s theory, but also it could fit genre if I make a case for how the genre could be considered sci-fi, or using sci-fi elements. I’d probably also use the interview with Ishiguro.


**The Importance of Being Earnest and the article “Profiles and Principles: The Sense of the Absurd in The Importance of Being Earnest”. By focusing on the absurd, I want to link this to Woolf’s “The Mark on the Wall”. The article talks about trying to create meaning with the frivolousness of the play. I think It’s relatable to Woolf’s existentialist questions in her stream-of-consciousness, and how the abrupt ending could be interpreted as negating the importance of her own questions, unless you take the approach that Spininger does in the article. I’m not sure what category this would go in.

The sources will decide if this is a genre or theory question. If I use only the play, I can quote Nietzsche directly with the article, and make it a theory question. If I use only Woolf, I can try to make the genre claim that Woolf’s story can be classified as absurdist. The Spininger article might work here, but a different source will be more relevant, maybe an essay from Camus.

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