2007-08 BM1: Session 12

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Back to 2007-08 BM1 Introduction to the Critical and Scholarly Discussion of Literature, Part 1

The Test

Test Results

The results are arranged on a first sheet according to your Matriculation numbers. There is a second spread sheet which is arranged by number of points reached, and which contains detailed information on your results in each individual question.

There are two special office hours where you may tale a look at your tests: Thursday, Feb. 21 and 28, 2008, 15:00-16:30 in A6 2-209 (room Olaf Simons).


--1. Construct correct bibliographical entries for the following items.

  • The paperback edition of J. M. Coetzee’s Booker Prize Winning novel Disgrace published in the year 2000 by the New York publisher Vintage. (5)
  • J. M. Coetzee, Disgrace, New York: Vintage, 2000.
[points: 1 correct sequence, 1 title in italics, 2,5 (5 x 0,5) complete data, 0,5 plausible punctuation]
  • An article entitled Speech-Manuscript-Print, published in the year 1990 by the historian D. F. McKenzie, and to be found on pages 87 to 109 in volume 22 of The Library Chronicle of the University of Texas at Austin. (7)
  • D. F. McKenzie, "Speech-Manuscript-Print", The Library Chronicle of the University of Texas at Austin 22 (1990): 87–109.
[points: 1 correct sequence, 1 article title in inverted commas, 1 Journal in italics, 3 (6 x 0,5) complete data, 1 plausible punctuation]

--2. Knowledge about established notions on periods.

a) Indicate roughly the dates usually associated with three of the following five periods. (6)

  • Renaissance: 1350/1500-1640/1650
  • Restoration: 1660-1700/1720
  • Enlightenment: 1660/1680-1790
  • Romantic Age: 1770/1780-1830/1832
  • Victorian Age: 1832/1837-1900/1901

b) For three periods of your choice, name at least one typical feature conventionally associated with it. (6)

  • Renaissance: discovery of antiquity and Roman/Greek poetry, rejection of medieval period, discovery of the individual (Renaissance man), humanism, boom in drama (Shakespeare's plays are supposed to contain the essential characteristics of the period), religious conflict: English reformation to Civil War, which establishes a puritan republic (1649-1660).
  • Restoration: under the special protection of the court, libertinistic, witty
  • Enlightenment: rationality, age of reason, sciences, philosophy, civil liberties, religious and political tolerance.
  • Romanticism: reacts to the deficits of enlightenment, radicalises emotions (and expresses them individually), turn to nature, individuality, heroism (outsiderdom), fragment and infinity, escapisms: exotism, medieval / pagan past, initially politically radical, then a conservative turn, -- turn to popular forms, rejection of poetic diction,
  • Victorian Era: period of British imperialism, duplicity of moral standards: an age of strict morals, suppression of sexuality, transgressive literature produced by an avantgarde of authors, aestheticism, strong class division reflected by literature: boom of commercial entertainments esp. melodrama.

c) For three periods of your choice, name one writer who wrote during this period. (3)

NOTE: other writers in English may be mentioned. These are the names of those dealt with or mentioned in the course of the lecture:

  • Renaissance: William Shakespeare, Sir Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, Christopher Marlowe, Sir Francis Bacon, Lady Mary Wroth, John Donne, George Herbert
  • Restoration: William Wycherley, William Congreve, Aphra Behn, George Etherege, John Dryden
  • Enlightenment: Daniel Defoe, Joseph Addison, Richard Steele, Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift, Thomas Gray, Eliza Haywood, Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding
  • Romantic Age: William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord Byron, John Keats, P. B. Shelley
  • Victorian Age: Charles Dickens, George Eliot, George Moore, Alfred Tennyson, Robert Browning, Algernon Charles Swinburne, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Christian Rossetti
Es gibt halbe Punkte, wenn Folgefehler gemacht werden z.B.: Victorian age 14th century and Chaucer as poet.

d) When were these periods 'invented'. Indicate roughly around what time scholars started constructing literary history as a succession of such periods. (3)

The present periodisation in histories of literature began in the course of the 19th century.
Early indications exist after 1750, so roughly half points for answers which mention that date.

--3. Some aspects of Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses can be described as 'postmodern'. Other aspects of the text can be described as 'postcolonial'. Give an example for either a postcolonial or a postmodern feature of the text. (10)


Postcolonial key terms:
  • identity, hybridity
  • race and cultural difference
  • hegemony - power
  • challenging the centre
  • challenging Western notions of progress vs. tradition
Postmodern features:
  • "The Linguistic Turn": our access to the world is never independent of our language; Language games (Ludwig Wittgenstein), Discourses (Michel Foucault)
  • "The Death of the Author" (Roland Barthes, 1967); de-centered subjects.
  • deconstruction; challenging notions of unity and consistency
  • Intertextuality
  • Breaking down barriers between ontological levels, between reality and fiction (cf. Brian McHale...)

  • Invitations for Postcolonial Readings of Satanic Verses:
  • multicultural Britain, diaspora identities, racism.
  • Saladin Chamcha's / Salahuddin Chamchawala's identity quest
  • Invitations for Postmodernist Readings of Satanic Verses:
  • Closing the gap between the high and the popular – the use of contemporary popular culture (advertising; TV series; British, American and Indian Cinema)
  • Strong Intertextuality: (numerous references to the European literary tradition: Ovid, Shakespeare [King Lear / Othello], Milton [Paradise Lost], Swift, Blake, Kafka, Joyce)
  • the violation of ontological levels: Gibreel Farishta as actor and as Archangel Gibreel, his "dreaming" of the even-numbered books (cf. McHale, p. 85: "And what exactly is scandal? Ultimately, its source is ontological: boundaries between worlds have been violated.")
  • the postmodern play with the (death of the) 'god-like' author

--4. In the context of Shakespeare studies what is

a) a Quarto edition? (5)

  • An edition of a single play (full points)
    -- additional information, which can yield some points if the central information is missing: only about half of Shakespeare's plays were published in quarto editions; some quarto editions were published already during Shakespeare's lifetime; Shakespeare editors divide quartos into good, bad and doubtful quartos; general explanation of the quarto format (2 points if something like the following criteria are mentioned: a quarto book results when, in the printing process, four leaves are created from each sheet of paper; the sheet is folded twice, and bound with threads on the longer side; each leaf usually has a printed page on each side, so a quarto signature usually represents eight pages of the book).

b) the Folio edition? (5)

  • The edition of Shakespeare's collected plays (full points)
    -- additional information, which can yield some points if the central information is missing: published in 1623, 7 years after Shakespeares death; general explanation of the folio format (2 points if something like the following criteria are mentioned: a folio book results when, in the printing process, two leaves are created from each sheet of paper; the sheet is folded once, and bound with threads on side where the fold is; each leaf usually has a printed page on each side, so a folio signature usually represents four pages of the book).

--5. Briefly characterise the status of Shakespeare

a) around 1600. (5)

  • Shakespeare was mentioned and celebrated as the author of his plays (cf. title-pages)
  • But during his lifetime no one was interested in his personality.
  • There were no manuscripts preserved.
  • There was no contemporary interest in personal records, diaries, letters, etc.
  • There were no literary reviews and periodicals, no theatre criticism.
  • The interest in Shakespeare's person and the criticism of his work was retrospective.

b) in the nineteenth century. (5)

  • The greatest English author if not the best author of all times, a genius; an author with insight into man's nature.
  • From 1760s: Shakespeare cult, birthplace, Stratford.
  • His works the object of popular editions
  • "Victorian bardolatry"
  • Permanent Shakespeare performances at Stratford.
  • Many theories about the authorship of Shakespeare's plays (a total of 57 candidates exist)

--6. The meaning of the term 'poetry' has changed over the past few centuries. Name one contrast between the meaning of 'poetry' around 1700 and around 1900.

Possible contrasts are:

  • 1700: Poetry is defined as everything written in verse. - 1900: all beautiful language, the aesthetic production of texts
  • 1700: The opera and songs are poetic genres - 1900: the opera belongs into the field of music
  • 1700: The poetic genres can be defined according to Aristotle (including tragedy, comedy, heroic and comic epic, lyric productions), these genres may be higher or lower, greater or smaller, fashionable or unfashionable at any particular time - 1900: The term poetry itself was increasingly reduced in scope (only rarely used for dramatic or narrative texts), limited to a set of smaller poetic forms which had previously not been specifically labeled as a group
  • 1700 poetry is part of the belles lettres - 1900: poetry is a part of literature (all fictional texts)
  • 1700: Poetry has a widespread presence, as an almost everyday form of writing. (For funerals, weddings, for the expression of religious sentiments and beliefs. -- Scholars write poems as prefaces to other scholars' works), it is a part of the belles lettres - 1900: Poetry part of the production of literature (presented in histories of literature)
  • 1700: Poetry arranged with a perspective on the international production, periods: ancient and modern - 1900: poetry presented in national traditions under different (national) periodisations
  • 1700: Poets have an internal debate over qualities of their work, scholars interfere with a perspective on Aristotle and ancient poems - 1900: Critics are monitoring the progress of the nation’s poets - the poets interact with critics.
  • 1700: Poets are seen as individuals, with the exceptions of those who win the official "poet laureate" status - 1900: Poets can form groups / schools / movements.
(10) points.

--7. Formulate at least two different definitions of the term 'literature' and discuss what advantages and disadvantages each definition could have for the practice of literary studies.

30 points max.

  • 0-7 points -- one or two definitions which do not gain any plausibility
  • 7,5-10,5 points -- two definitions, more or less incoherent or illogical consideration of consequences
  • 11-14,5 points -- two definitions plausibly stated, advantages and disadvantages discussed as a set of personal preferences or in contrast to an unstated and undiscussed yet supposedly true definition
  • 15-18 points -- two definitions plausibly stated, advantages and disadvantages discussed as "logical" consequences of the definitions
  • 18,5-21,5 points -- two definitions well stated, advantages and disadvantages discussed with a view to the scholarly debate
  • 22-30 points -- two definitions well stated, advantages and disadvantages discussed with a view to the scholarly debate and a discussion of more complex implications.



  • 73 – 100: 1
  • 61 – 72: 2
  • 49 – 60: 3
  • 37 – 48: 4
  • 25 – 36: 5
  • 0 – 24: 6