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Thursday, August 21, 2008

I Semester Optional English Q Paper - Mid Sem 2008

Christ University, Bangalore
I Semester BA Optional English
Paper I: British Literature: Anglo-Saxon to the Present

Note: You are encouraged to keep the answers as brief and concise as possible. Answers exceeding the prescribed word limit may be penalized.

I. Answer any six of the following in not more than 200 words each. 30 marks
1. Locate Chaucer, Shakespeare, Bacon, Defoe and Goldsmith within the ‘Print culture and Rise of Nation-States’ framework through the texts you have studied.
2. How is the world that comes across in the Prologue of the Wife of Bathe different from that of Shakespeare’s sonnets?
3. Critically examine the concept of courtly love as exhibited in Shakespeare’s sonnets.
4. What problems do we encounter in making a comparative study of the description of Wife of Bathe and ‘the young man’?
5. What does the essay “The Man in Black” tell us about the socio-political situation of England?
6. Trace the imperial rhetoric in Robinson Crusoe.
7. Write a note on the Greek concepts of Drama.
8. Differentiate the style and content of the two essays you have studied.

II. Answer any two of the following in not more than 250-300 words each. 20 marks
1. Write a note on rise of English Drama with reference to the Miracle Moralities.
2. What is the central argument in the sonnet ‘Let me not to the marriage of true minds’? Discuss.
3. Write a note on the concept of the Metaphysical conceit.
4. Write a note on the rise of the genre – novel.
5. Explore the ideas of ‘God’ as they come across in Robinson Crusoe, keeping in mind Defoe’s own religious inclination.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Feedback on Mid Semester question papers

Can I have feedback on I Semester Optional English mid-semester question paper? Could you email your comments to me on ajpinto42 at gmail dot com?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

“An Introduction” By Kamala Das notes for II JPEng students

Some propositions on the poem.

The poem, “An Introduction” by Kamala Das, has strong existentialist moorings proposed by Søren Kierkegaard, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir. Although it is unlikely that Das has read either Kierkegaard or Satre, it is most likely that she has read The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir.

The assertion of the self against the various given social roles, identities and communal demands is an indicator of the existentialist leanings of the poet. The first person narrative of the poem also reinforces the idea of the asserting self. The assertion in terms of the issues and the roles it is rejecting presents the inverted pyramid structure of the poem. The use of the indefinite article ‘An’ in the title is also indicative of the fluid but resisting and self-determining position of the poet.

Here are some interesting write ups on the poem and her poetry in general. Click on the links to go the the specific sites

1. Split-Self And Self Assertion In The Poetry Of Kamla Das

2. Calling Kamala Das Queer: Rereading My Story

3. Kamala Das

4. The Histrionics of Kamala Das

5. IGNOU Interview with Kamala Das

Shakespeare's Sonnets - material + replies to Questions Raised in the classroom

Here is some material on Sonnets.

The site contains reliable interpretation/analysis of the sonnets. Please click on the sonnets to get to the site.

Three I JPEng students had asked for the explanation of three lines from sonnet 74. Those lines have been explained in the link provided below. Should there be further doubt on those three lines, please get back to me via blog.

Sonnet 18 : Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?

Sonnet 74 : But be contented when that fell arrest

Sonnet 116 : Let me not to the marriage of true minds

A question on litotes in the comment section below led me to this fascinating site on figures of speech. Please click on the link below and search for Shakespeare's sonnets that are prescribed for you. You may also use the short cut key : Ctrl F

Sonnet Sqeezing

End-Semster Model Question Paper - V Semester Optional English - OEN 531 Literary Theory and Criticism


End-semester Examination - October 2008

Course: BA Time: 3 hours
Subject: Optional English Max Marks: 100 Paper: OEN 531 - Literary Theory and Criticism

Section A
I. Answer in not more than 200 words. 10x4=40

1. What is literature according to Eagleton?
2. “No poet, no artist of any art has his complete meaning alone.” – TS Eliot. Discuss the efficacy of the historical-biographical approach in the light of the statement.
3. Criticism should dissociate art from mystery and concern itself with how literary texts actually worked. How does this statement reflect formalist concerns?
4. What are the two major contributions of Saussure to Structuralism according to Rivkin and Ryan?
5. How did Derrida’s concept of “difference” challenge the central assumptions of Plato’s metaphysics?
6. Explain the three parts of the mind as proposed by Freud.
7. What is the contribution of French feminists to feminism?

Section B
II. Answer in not more than 350 words. 15X4=60
1. How does Eagleton challenge the ideas of literature upheld by various schools of thought?
2. Critique the central assumptions in the essay ‘Are Poems Historical Acts’?

3. Attempt a formalist critique of the following text.

After his Death

It turned out
that the bombs he had thrown
raised buildings;

that the acid he had sprayed
had painfully opened
the eyes of the blind.

Fishermen hauled
prizewinning fish
from the water he had polluted.

We sat with astonishment
enjoying the shade
of the vicious words he had planted.

The government decreed that
on the anniversary of his birth
the people should observe
two minutes pandemonium.

- Norman MacCaig

4. How does Levi-Strauss attempt a structuralist reading of Oedipus the King?

5. What principles of poststructuralism does Hillis Miller draw upon in his reading of “A Slumber did my Spirit Seal”?

6. Attempt a psychoanalytic criticism of the following poem.

A slumber did my spirit seal;

I had no human fears:

She seemed a thing that could not feel

The touch of earthly years.

No motion has she now, no force;

She neither hears nor sees;

Rolled round in earth's diurnal course,

With rocks, and stones, and trees.

- William Wordsworth

7. Attempt a feminist critique of the following text.


Softly, in the dusk, a woman is singing to me;

Taking me back down the vista of years, till I see

A child sitting under the piano, in the boom of the tingling strings

And pressing the small, poised feet of a mother who smiles as she sings.

In spite of myself, the insidious mastery of song

Betrays me back, till the heart of me weeps to belong

To the old Sunday evenings at home, with winter outside

And hymns in the cosy parlour, the tinkling piano our guide.

So now it is vain for the singer to burst into clamour

With the great black piano appassionato. The glamour

Of childish days is upon me, my manhood is cast

Down in the flood of remembrance, I weep like a child for the past.

D.H. Lawrence


Sample Questions - I Sem Optional English Mid Sem Exam

Sartaj had asked me for sample questions yesterday. Today Abey reminded me about them. Hence this post.

The questions may be :

  • Single-text based
  • Asking for comparison of two texts in terms of their style, world view or themes.
  • Questions asking about literary genres or movements, namely novel, metaphysical poetry, sonnets, Puritanism, early theatre in England, early theatre in Greece,
  • Questions asking you to locate texts in larger frameworks the syllabus or course plans try to engage you in, namely, print culture and nation states or similar frameworks, if mentioned.

Some Sample Questions

What is conceit?

How does Chaucer describe Wife of Bathe?

How do Shakespeare’s and Donne’s poems you have studies differ from each other?

How does the worldview of Shakespeare’s sonnets differ from that of Donne’ poems?

Locate the texts you have studied in the print culture and nation-state framework.

All the best.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tomorrow's class cancelled

Some of the course participants begin their exams tomorrow. Hence, they requested me not to have Existentialism classes as they would miss out on the lecture on Kierkegaard. I spoke Dr Kachappilly. He has agreed to cancel tomorrow's class.


Link to Concept of Nation for IFEP and I JPEng

Here is a very good link to the concept of nation

Please click on the following word: Imagining the Nation.

Question paper Pattern, I Sem Optional English, IFEP, IJPEng, IPSEng

Question paper Pattern
Christ University, Bangalore

Mid Semester Examination – August 2008
Paper: OEN 131: British Literature: Anglo-Saxon to the Present
Time 2 Hours Maximum Marks: 50

Note: You are encouraged to keep the answers as brief and concise as possible.
Answers exceeding the prescribed word limit may be penalized.

I. Answer any six of the following in not more than 200 words each (6x5=30)

II. Answer any two of the following in not more than 250-300 words each. (2x10=20)


Further notes
• The questions are on novel, drama and poetry.
• Macbeth is not there for exam.
• The spacio-temporal location of ‘texts’ is important. E.g. the socio-political and economic conditions that produced these texts, genres like novel, sonnet, frame-narrative.
• All the best

This pattern and instructions posted here are not to be treated as official. Should there be be any discrepancy i may decline to take any responsibility. The post is purely a personal attempt to address the student concerns. If you wish to verify the veracity of the matter on this post, you may consult the teacher concerned. The class representatives may take initiative in this direction.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

I JPEng Optional English Questions

I JPEng students may post their questions and comments on the portion of the Optional English syllabus dealt with so far and classroom discussion here.