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Half of your midterm exam's 100 points will come from the essay question; the other half will come from your quotation identifications.  You will need to prepare an essay exam prep card using the following specifications:

  • The card may be no bigger than 5" x 8".
  • Your name must appear in the upper right corner of the card (with a horizontal orientation so that the longest side is at top).
  • A clear space at the top left corner should be left blank for stapling.
  • Quotes are expected in the essay since you can prepare ahead of time. You are expected to record quotes on the card with page numbers, but each quote on the card needs to appear in the essay. Listing other quotes in an attempt to have the answers to the ID section is forbidden.
  • You may not write out the essay on the card, but you may outline the key points.
  • You may not create a list of all the authors and their texts' titles for the semester.
  • Failure to follow these directions will result in the card not being allowed during the exam.
  • I will inspect the card before the exam starts. You may wish to show up early to get my approval.
  • You may not use your book during the exam, so all the information you need. should be on the card.

You may choose from one of the following questions for your essay: 

Essay Option 1:

Early American Literature is often described as “first contact” literature: descriptions of what happens when two cultures meet for the very first time.  Pick a particular first contact experience and analyze how one side of the encounter attempts to deal with the other group.  What cultural knowledge or standards do they use to evaluate the behavior or cultural position of the other? How do they attempt to interact with the other group? What justifications do they use to explain these kinds of interactions, and what do they suggest about that particular colonial encounter? You may use several texts or focus on one text closely.

Essay Option 2:

The Puritan culture of colonial New England has dominated much of the course so far.  Using three writers, pick ONE aspect of Puritan culture from the following list and explain how the Puritans saw it: the nature of God, sin and evil in the world, the impact of outsiders, or the concept of "duty."

Essay Option 3:

The role of work in shaping the American character is clear in the clich├ęs and slogans Americans often employ to describe admirable people: a "self-made" man, people who "pulls themselves up by their bootstraps," the "Puritan work ethic," and so on.  Using three texts, document early examples of "work as a pathway to success" in America.

Essay Option 4:

While the Puritans represent a religious vision of what America could be, other settlers clearly maintained a more secular vision of life.  Examine three texts that offer a counterpoint to the image of a religiously founded country and identify the values that they bring to the definition of what it means to be American.


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