Preliminary Exam Plans

My plans below are in no way complete, nor are they definitely what I am doing on test day, but its a start. Okay, here we go:


Historical Context:

Right now, I am leaning towards using A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Importance of Being Earnest for my historical context section. Both texts deal with mistaken identity while being works of drama and being confined to social norms of their times. It would, therefore, be interesting to write about the differences between the two as they were both written in Britain during very different times. It is just interesting that they share so much while also being very different. Alternatively, I know that if I needed to I could most likely spin these two texts together to work for a genre question.



For the genre section, I am thinking about grouping some of the short stories together such as The Yellow Wallpaper, The Tell-tale Heart, and Bartleby the Scrivener. In class we have discussed how these texts all handle the unreliable narrator and a character’s loss of sanity. I think the secondary sources we have discussed so far would help a great deal with this. Additionally, as an alternative, I am always tempted to analyze The Yellow Wallpaper through a historical lens since it is such a huge comment on women’s rights during the late 1800s. In this way, The Yellow Wallpaper could be paired with an outside reading that I may bring with me called The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin. This outside source is another short story which also deals with the struggle of women’s rights in the late 19th century. This sounds like a feminist reading now, but I think its actually a good thing to have a group of texts that you can treat with a theoretical reading, a historical context reading, or genre reading. I need to have a more concrete plan before the test, but I think I am laying groundwork here.



For my theory readings, I could use the texts I have already mentioned and do a feminist reading of them, or I could also bring in the Emily Dickinson poems and The Mark on the Wall. I’m really comfortable analyzing things through a feminist perspective so i am thinking to just stick to what I know. I’m also good with Marxist theory and Postmodern theory so I may use those. I am still working my way through some of the texts on the reading list so I may have to rethink some of these sections.

Flexibility and Modularity:

I like that, so far, I can use almost all the texts that I have named in more than one way. From what we have discussed in class, I will have some more texts that have multiple uses to add to my arsenal once I do a little more reading. Additionally, I still need to give a presentation on a text, so I will be an expert on at least one more text before test day. I just think I need to get a better handle on exactly how each work falls into each category because I want to make sure I stick to the category when writing. I would like to add at least another three or four texts to my list before test day. I think if I have the texts I have mentioned already and another 3-4 texts which can be used in more than one way, I should be okay.



  1. This looks like a clear, well laid-out plan Caitlyn! You are sticking to your strengths while hitting all the required points — a talent I admire and wish to emulate.

    I have had a recurring fear that if we only use the shorter pieces on our list we might somehow be penalized. My only suggestion would be to add at least one longer work to your arsenal.

  2. Hi Cait! Sorry for the late response to your post. You have some great plans for the test. I totally agree that it is most important to finish reading more texts (I’m still working on it too). I like that you wrote, “arsenal”, like we’re going to war (sure feels like it). Since you want to write about identity in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Importance of Being Earnest, I can easily see Invisible Man fitting into this section, but it does also depend on the type of identity you wish to discuss. Also, I think that, “The Mark on the Wall”, would be much easier for a Genre or Historical reading. I think you have great ideas for a theoretical foundation and I’m sure you’ll find great ways to apply them to our texts.

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