Midterm Exam

ENGL 2120-Modern American Literature
Spring Semester 2023
MIDTERM EXAM (Online) Form S23 (Foltz-Gray)
Your answers to this Midterm Exam must be submitted to the course Dropbox by 5:00 p.m. (Eastern) on Saturday, March 18, 2023. (Penalties for lateness will be significant. Do NOT miss the March 18 deadline.)
The exam asks you to answer TWO essay questions. And each of those two questions includes several parts. You must answer ALL PARTS of each question.
Each of your two answers must be a well-organized essay of between 600 and 900 words. Better answers include plenty of specific detail, including quotations and paraphrases from the works and perhaps our Discussion Board. But because your time is limited, I will NOT ask you to use formal MLA citations for quotations and paraphrases from our textbook and Discussion Board.
However, you MAY NOT INCLUDE INFORMATION FROM OUTSIDE SOURCES in your exam answers. (“Outside sources” are sources of information beyond our textbooks and Discussion Board.) The exam is a test, NOT A RESEARCH PROJECT. Your task is to show your understanding of our textbook and our online discussions.
I should remind you that I’ve activated the automatic plagiarism checker. I’ll apply severe penalties for plagiarism. Those penalties could include a grade of F for our class.
Submit both of your answers in a single Microsoft Word or Rich Text file document. (Do not submit a PDF file or a PAGES file.) Please label your exam file by giving course name, semester, section, the word “Midterm,” and your last name and first initial. For example, I would label my own Midterm “ENGL2120S23W01MidtermFoltz-GrayD” (“S23” for spring semester 2023; “W01” for section W01).
Finally, proofread carefully: your writing–including punctuation, spelling, and mechanics–matters.
QUESTION 1. In “Of the Sorrow Songs,” chapter XIV of W. E. B. Du Bois’s 1905 book, The Souls of Black Folk, Du Bois concludes his discussion of slave-songs with an argument against the “silently growing assumption of this age . . . that the probation of races is past, and that the backward races of to-day are of proven inefficiency and not worth the saving.” (The “assumption” Du Bois refers to here is the racist idea that the value or worth of the individual races has already been established and won’t change.) His argument employs an analysis of history to underpin some predictions for the future of black Americans. Charles Chesnutt, too, in his essay “The Future American,” published in 1900, looks ahead to an imagined future for black Americans. And Horace Kallen, in his 1915 essay, “Democracy versus the Melting Pot,” offers a picture of a possible future for a different kind of American “outsider”–immigrants.
In a well-organized essay answer of 600 to 900 words, explain the possible futures described by these three writers. Be careful to describe in detail the specific arguments or ideas that support these predictions. Be sure also to discuss the potential barriers each writer sees to his visions of the future. Finally, discuss the similarities in these three ideas.
All three of these works are in “Volume C: 1865-1914,” the first of our three textbooks. Du Bois’s chapter “Of the Sorrow Songs” is on 947-954 (though his discussion of the future comes mostly on 953-954); Charles Chesnutt’s “The Future American” is on 1175-1179; and Horace Kallen’s “Democracy versus the Melting Pot” is on 1185-1187.
Remember that this question asks you to write about THREE DIFFERENT WORKS by THREE DIFFERENT WRITERS. You must write about ALL THREE. Be certain to answer EVERY PART of this question.
QUESTION 2. SYMBOLS play an important role in many of the works we’ve read this semester. In an essay of 600-900 words, describe the following symbols, and explain, as precisely as you can, their symbolic meaning. What do they represent? It’s essential, too, to explain how these symbols reflect important themes in the works in which they appear.
The symbols are:
Roman fever—technically, malaria—in both Edith Wharton’s short story by the same name and Henry James’s short novel Daisy Miller. (In Wharton’s story, the illness is referred to as “Roman fever.” In James’s story, it is simply referred to as “malaria” or, in Italian, perniciosa.) What does the fever symbolize in each story? How does it represent a key theme in each story? How does it reflect a key plot line in each story?
The spade in Robert Frost’s poem “Home Burial.” What does the spade represent? Why does the wife, Amy, react so strongly to the spade and her husband’s use of it? How does the spade reflect key themes of the poem? How does the spade capture a key feature of the relationship between Amy and her husband?
The dead bird in Susan Glaspell’s play Trifles. What does the bird represent? How does this symbol reflect a key theme of the play? How does it play a key role in the plot of the play?
Wharton’s story “Roman Fever” and James’s short novel Daisy Miller are in “Volume C: 1865-1914,” the first of our three textbooks. Wharton’s story is on 872-881. James’s short novel is on 410-449. Robert Frost’s poem “Home Burial” and Susan Glaspell’s play Trifles are both in “Volume D: 1914-1945,” the second of our three textbooks. Frost’s poem is on 225-228. Glaspell’s play is on 241-250.
NOTE: Remember that you’re writing about FOUR DIFFERENT WORKS. You must write about all four. Be sure to submit your total answer in a SINGLE 600-900 word essay answer. And be sure you’ve answered every part of this question.
Start Date
Mar 14, 2023 9:00 AM
Due Date
Mar 18, 2023 5:00 PM

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