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Strategy for Navigating Honors Exam
March 15, 2017, 12:51 am
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So the honors exam is divided in three sections: genre, historical context, and theory. I can use some secondary sources at hand to make “The Yellow Wallpaper” applicable to all categories, but I’m conflicted on which one I should use it for.

As of now, this is my strategy plan:

For genre, I plan on using “Bartleby the Scrivener.” As of now I cannot connect this to any other text on our honors exam reading list through a parable lens. I have started my research and have found plenty of sources that support my reading of Herman Melville’s text as a parable, some scholarly and respectable sources while others not so much. I think my main secondary source for this will be: Stempel, Daniel, and Bruce M. Stillians. “Bartleby the Scrivener: A Parable of Pessimism.” Nineteenth-Century Fiction, vol. 27, no. 3, 1972, pp. 268–282., www.jstor.org/stable/2932890.

For historical context, I want to use more than one text to talk about slavery. I can do this through “Negro Hero” by Gwendolyn Brooks and Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. For this section, I am not sure what kind of historical research to bring into conversation with my texts. I can obviously talk about slavery in America and the impact it had on the black community. On the other hand, I could talk about something more specific like marriage conditions for slaves or different forms of cruelty. Any suggestions? For this section, I was originally planning on A Midsummer Night’s Dream because there’s a lot of Greek mythology in that text that I can use as historical context to interpret that text, but I want to use more than one primary text in at least one section. I mean if anyone knows what other text I can use with Shakespeare’s text and have an actual historical connection, I would happily do this instead.

For theory, I am going to use Robert Parker’s reader-response chapter because it is the one I understand best so I will be able to talk about it in the course of 700+ words. I guess I’ll use “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman for this section. I know we can bring in one primary text of our own so I was thinking of bringing in Arlene Sardine, which is a children’s book that I used in my senior thesis. For Gilman’s work, I can use the secondary source that I used when I gave my presentation while connecting that to Parker’s chapter. For Arlene Sardine I can use Karen Coats’s “Teaching Fish Stories,” which discusses multiple readings done by a variety of readers as well and then tie that back to Parker. Sounds solid, no?

Flexibility and Modularity: I think for this section, one text that I can be really flexible with is “The Yellow Wallpaper.” However, I feel like if I’m going to bring in other texts and be flexible with them, they have to have some sort of connection with the texts at hand, but as of now I don’t think there are any other texts that correlate with this pool of works. However, I am open to suggestions that’ll help me to see some texts other ways and work with multiple texts.

I think your idea of using a parable is interesting because it’s not a common genre that people talk about. This could benefit you but at the same time you want to make sure that as a backup you do have at least two other books you can use. You could start narrowing it down because a parable is “a short story” (at least that’s what I found when I was trying to explain it). Maybe you could use “The Mark on the Wall” and how that story talks about how fast time flies and how one should cherish what they have before they loose it. That sounds like a good lesson to get out of it.

Historical Context:
I was thinking about doing something like this as well. These two texts work great with slavery and you would be doing something unique with the portrayal of marriage. I understand the references of Greek mythology in A Midsummer Nights Dream but I feel like it would be harder to place that in the historical context because Greek mythology is used all throughout literature I feel like so it might be a little more challenging to use it to place your texts in history.

It’s great that you can use the theory you wrote about in your thesis. However, I would just be careful to pick Arlene Sardine as your outside text because it might be hard to use it for genre or historical context in case you might need it for those sections. It’s very unpredictable so I would make sure you have texts that you can put together multiple ways, and it might be hard to do with with Arlene Sardine. You could even use Bartleby for this section too, seeing that our group discussed how both theories by Cave and Parker could be used to understand it and interpret it in a different light.

I would make sure you have enough books and connections that you can make. Right now it feels like you haven’t established these connections yet. But that’s okay, the more you try and find the connections the more ideas you will be able to come up with.

   Yazmin Estrada 03.21.17 @ 1:53 am

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