E321 Spring 2010
Midterm Essay Questions
I will put two of the following questions on the midterm exam. You will select one to write about on the day of the exam. Your answer must have an argument so I suggest that you prepare a thesis statement in advance. Plan to prove your claim with specific references to our texts. Answers should be roughly 1.5-2 blue book pages (single-sided).
1. Pick any two manifestos from our reading packet and write an essay in which you compare and contrast their claims about what literature/art should or should not be. You might consider such questions as: What does each manifesto claim art literature/should be? What role should art/literature play in society? Does literature/art have an ethical role to play in culture? That is, does good art help us live better and bad art make our lives worse?
2. Blast was the journal for Vorticism but it only lasted for two issues because of its aggressive, militaristic rhetoric and because several of the founders went to war/were killed in war. (That, and they ran out of money.) Think carefully about what the manifesto from Blast says/implies about literature/art and how it is connected to violent rhetoric. Might we say, as some critics do, that the ideology and rhetoric espoused in Blast could only manifest itself in World War? Select one trench poem and consider how that poem might respond to the claims of Blast. What arguments might the poem make for or against the ideology that Blast represents?
3. As we have been discussing in class, many early modernist works were interested in defining themselves against the previous literary period. Blast called Victorianism dandyish, soggy, effeminate and sloppy. Romanticism and it’s idealization of nature and inspiration were often common topics of attack. Select any two works we have read thus far and write an essay in which you compare and contrast the ways in which each defines itself against a feature of Romanticism or Victorianism.