Honors Exam Strategy

So for the exam I was looking at two texts for each category.


Affect (Brennan)

-The Mark on the Wall

-The Yellow Wallpaper


Historical Context:

19th Century

-Dickinson (poems)

-Keats “Ode on a Grecian Urn”



Short Story

-The Tell-Tale Heart

– Bartleby the Scrivener


I’m debating with my secondary materials so….this is really all I have right now.


A midnight summers dream consists of connecting plots that are joined by the wedding celebration of the Duke Theseus of Athens and the Amazon queen, Hippolyta,

The play revolves around four lovers who become entangled with the scheme concocted by Oberon, king of the fairies to get his wife Titania to give up her changeling child so he could use the child as a knight. Upon arriving to the wedding Titania informs Oberon that she will be staying in the forest right outside of Athens. Oberon instructs his servant Puck to prepare a magical juice that derived from a flower called “love-in-idleness”, which turns from white to purple when struck by Cupid’s arrow. When the concoction is applied to the eyelids of a sleeping person, that person, upon waking, falls in love with the first living thing they perceive. His intention was to use the mixture on Titania in hopes that she would fall in love with an animal of the forest and thereby shame her into giving up the little Indian boy.

Hermia, who is in love with Lysander resists her father Egeus’s demands to marry Demetrius with which he has arranged. Egeus is enraged and invokes an ancient Athenian law before Duke Theseus, whereby a daughter must marry the suitor chosen by her father, or else face death, however Theseus offers Hermia another choice: lifelong chastity while worshipping the goddess Artemis as a nun.

Helena is in love with Demetrius. Hermia and Lysander have escaped to the same forest in hopes of eloping. Helena, desperate to reclaim Demetrius’s love, tells Demetrius about the plan and he follows them in hopes of killing Lysander. Oberon observes this and orders Puck to spread some of the magical juice on the eyelids of the young Athenian man. However, not having seen either men before mistakes Lysander for Demetrius, thereby administering the juice to the sleeping Lysander. Trying to figure out if he is dead, Helena wakes Lysander and he immediately falls in love with Helena. Oberon sees Demetrius still following Hermia and is enraged. When Demetrius goes to sleep, Oberon sends Puck to get Helena while he charms Demetrius’ eyes. Upon waking up, he sees Helena. Now, both men are in pursuit of Helena. Hermia is at a loss to see why her lover has abandoned her, and accuses Helena of stealing Lysander away from her. The four quarrel with each other until Lysander and Demetrius become so enraged that they seek a place to duel to prove whose love for Helena is the greater. Oberon orders Puck to keep Lysander and Demetrius from catching up with one another and to remove the charm from Lysander so Lysander can return to love Hermia, while Demetrius continues to love Helena.

Peter Quince and his fellow players Nick Bottom, Francis Flute, Robin Starveling, Tom Snout, and Snug plan to put on a play for the wedding of the Duke and the Queen.

Quince and his band have arranged to perform their play about Pyramus and Thisbe for Theseus’ wedding and venture into the forest, near Titania’s dwellings for their rehearsal. Bottom is spotted by Puck, who transforms his head into that of a donkey. When Bottom returns for his next lines, the other workmen run screaming in terror: They claim that they are haunted, much to Bottom’s confusion. Determined to await his friends, he begins to sing to himself. Titania, having received the love-potion, is awakened by Bottom’s singing and immediately falls in love with him. She lavishes him with the attention of her and her fairies, and while she is in this state of devotion, Oberon takes the changeling. Having achieved his goals, Oberon releases Titania, orders Puck to remove the donkey’s head from Bottom, and arranges everything so Helena, Hermia, Demetrius and Lysander will all believe they have been dreaming when they awaken. Puck distracts Lysander and Demetrius from fighting over Helena’s love by mimicking their voices and leading them apart. Eventually, all four find themselves separately falling asleep in the glade. Once they fall asleep, Puck administers the love potion to Lysander again, claiming all will be well in the morning.

The fairies then disappear, and Theseus and Hippolyta arrive on the scene, during an early morning hunt. They wake the lovers and, since Demetrius no longer loves Hermia, Theseus over-rules Egeus’s demands and arranges a group wedding. The lovers decide that the night’s events must have been a dream. After they exit, Bottom awakes, and he too decides that he must have experienced a dream.

In Athens, Theseus, Hippolyta and the lovers watch the bands performance and afterwards, Oberon, Titania, Puck, and other fairies enter, and bless the house and its occupants with good fortune. After all the other characters leave, Puck “restores amends” and suggests to the audience that what they just experienced might be nothing more than a dream.


This relates to the article by Maurice Hunt because during the time of her reign, Queen Elizabeth never had any romantic relationships. She was known as the virgin queen having no successors to the throne. This could be an explanation why the claims made by Hunt are so speculative. The claims of this play being an allegory of real life true events taking place at the time are so speculative because there was no claims of Elizabeth ever having any relations with anyone. He also says, towards the latter half of the essay, that the reason for Shakespeare having two strong female characters in the play is because of Mary Queen of Scotts and Elizabeth I were in a constant battle regarding who was the rightful heir to the throne… There a bunch of other things you could use for this in the essay but remember it’s all SPECULATIVE! Good Luck all !

Homi Bhabha

Main Takeaway from Homi Bhabha:

Interested in:

How can we understand post colonial culture?

We should conceive of a persons identity and how it effects theories of post colonial culture

Bhabha argues against the idea that an individuals identity is based on fixed factors like education, gender, and race

Instead individuals can only be described through cultural hybridity—the mixture of culture influences which shape a human and effect their identity 

To see an individuals real self one must look past their logical contradictions and taboo’s that come from this mix, instead one must accept inner conflict inherent to humans

Post colonial cultures in particular are extremely complex—mixing cultural and linguistic imitations of the colonial power with preexisting traditional customs 

Post colonial theories should focus on hybridity and cosmopolitanism, if instead theories are based on studying separate and unequal cultures then they will misunderstand post colonial culture

Theories of post colonialism that do misinterpret culture in this way may further discriminatory practices.


The things in bold I would argue are the most interesting points for Homi Bhabha so I’ve compiled quotes that could easily be worked into an essay for the Exam. Hope these help!

(1) “That whole week Baby Kochamma eavesdropped relentlessly on the twins’ private conversations, and whenever she caught them speaking in Malayam, she levied a small which was deducted at source. From their pocket money. She made them write lines –‘impositions’ she called them – I will always speak in English, I will always speak in English. A hundred times each. When they were done, she scored them with her pen to make sure that old lines were not recycled for new punishments.

She had made them practice an English car song for the way back. They had to form the words properly, and be particularly careful about their production” (36).

(2)”Chacko told the twins though he hated to admit it, they were all anglophile. They were a family of Anglophiles. Pointed in the wrong direction, trapped outside their own history, and unable to retrace their steps because their footprints had been swept away. He explained to them that history was like an old house at night. With all the lamps lit. And ancestors whispering inside. ‘To understand history, ‘Chacko said, we have to go inside and listen to what they’re saying. And look at the books and the pictures on the wall. And smells the smells” (52).

(3) “Chacko said that the correct word for people like Pappachi was Anglophile. He made Rahel and Estha look up Anglophile in the Reader’s Digest Great Encyclopedic Dictionary. It said Person well disposed to the English. The Estha and Rahel had to look up disposed …. Chacko said that in Pappachi’s case it meant Bring mind into certain state. Which, Chacko said, meant that Pappachi’s mind had been brought into a state which made him like the English” (52).

(4) “Chacko came home for a summer vacation from Oxford. Her had grown to be a big man, and was, in those days, strong from rowing from Balliot. A week after he arrived he found Pappachi beating Mammachi in the study. Chacko strode into the room, caught Pappachi’s vase-hand and twisted it around his back, ‘I never want this to happen again’ her told his father. ‘Ever’” (48).


The important fact here is that the contamination of the colonized is not their admiration for the English or their efforts to imitate them, but their inability to belong to neither the culture of the colonized nor that of the colonizer and they experience an identity problem. Thus, they gain a hybrid identity, a mix between native and colonial identity, neither fully one nor the other.

All of these quotes someway or another fit into Bhabha’s hybridity theory. So, if you’re brave enough to write about this theory, hopefully these quotes can help you! 


List of Revisions

  1. Focus in on Coates
  2. Add a review of each of the books
  3. Tie in secondary works i.e. Baldwin and Richard Wright
  4. Integrate the black bodies within both texts
  5. Add in my personal opinions in a way that it integrates all the voices in my essay i.e. primary sources and secondary sources

Presentation on Dickinson

Tracy Kawall

Professor Jason Tougaw

Senior Seminar



Author of Primary Text: Emily Dickinson

Poems: “I Felt a Funeral in My Brain,” “The Brain is Wider than the Sky,” “Tell All the Truth but Tell It Slant,” and “Hope Is a Thing with Feathers”

Approach: Theory

Supplemental Article: Why Lyric by Jonathan Culler & Professor Chu’s definition of the Lyric

Have Student(s) Read:

Professor Chu:

Science fiction and lyric poetry are joined inseparably by rich affinities. The qualities that (either individually or in some combination) make a work of science fiction “science fictional” tend to coincide with the qualities that (either individually or in some combination) make a lyric poem “lyrical.” The coincidence lies in more than a shared intensity of figurative language. What makes a lyric poem “lyrical” is a constellation of interrelated attributes that have characterized Anglophone poetry from the Renaissance (if not earlier) to the present. Lyric poetry is frequently soliloquy-like. Lyric voices speak from beyond ordinary time. Lyric poems are inhabited by situations and tableaux transcending ordinary temporality. Lyric descriptions are charged with depictive intensity. Lyric poetry is musically expressive. Lyric poems evoke heightened and eccentric states of consciousness. 

Only a narrative form thoroughly powered by lyricism possesses enough torque–enough twisting force, enough verse (from “vertere,” Latin for “to turn”)–to convert an elusive referent into an object available for representation. (14)

Jonathan Culler:

Culler argues that poetry has been threatened as a genre and there has been a push back against poetry in order to focus more on the narrative. He writes, “Narrative is treated not as one possible literary form but as the very condition of experience, which is made intelligible by narrative form that traces causal sequence and represents experience as something accomplished and able to be narrated” (201). He goes on to say, “Criticism and pedagogy, reacting against the Romantic notion of lyric as expression of intense personal experience, have adopted the model of the dramatic monologue as the way to align poetry with the novel: the lyric is conceived as a fictional imitation of the act of a speaker, and to interpret the lyric is to work out what sort of person is speaking, in what circumstances and with what attitude or, ideally, drama of attitudes.”

Culler also makes the argument that narrative is used to explain what happens next and the lyric is used to explain what happens now. 

If we take both Chu and Cullers definition of what a lyric is maybe we can better understand how Dickinson’s poems work.

Focus on “I felt a Funeral in my Brain & The brain is wider than the sky”—Read both poems.

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain, (340)


I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,

And Mourners to and fro

Kept treading – treading – till it seemed

That Sense was breaking through –

And when they all were seated,

A Service, like a Drum –

Kept beating – beating – till I thought

My mind was going numb –

And then I heard them lift a Box

And creak across my Soul

With those same Boots of Lead, again,

Then Space – began to toll,

As all the Heavens were a Bell,

And Being, but an Ear,

And I, and Silence, some strange Race,

Wrecked, solitary, here –

And then a Plank in Reason, broke,

And I dropped down, and down –

And hit a World, at every plunge,

And Finished knowing – then –

Key Points: The funeral is an extended metaphor—because it’s used throughout the entire poem.

THE BRAIN is wider than the sky,

For, put them side by side,

The one the other will include

With ease, and you beside.


The brain is deeper than the sea,


For, hold them, blue to blue,

The one the other will absorb,

As sponges, buckets do.


The brain is just the weight of God,

For, lift them, pound for pound,


And they will differ, if they do,

As syllable from sound.

Key Point: ABCB rhyme scheme—Amazing Grace

Tell all the truth but tell it slant — (1263)


Tell all the truth but tell it slant —

Success in Circuit lies

Too bright for our infirm Delight

The Truth’s superb surprise

As Lightning to the Children eased

With explanation kind

The Truth must dazzle gradually

Or every man be blind —

Key Points: Setting—inside her head

“Hope Is a Thing with Feathers”

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –

And sore must be the storm –

That could abash the little Bird

That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –

And on the strangest Sea –

Yet – never – in Extremity,

It asked a crumb – of me.

Key Point: Time and Space—happening in the now

Concluding Remarks, tie supplemental works in with Dickinson

As we can see this poem encompasses all of the attributes that make a poem lyrical according to Chu, but also invokes the questions that Culler proposes.

Although the poem takes place in the past tense we are progressively figuring out who is speaking, and how he/she feels about the specific situation as well as what is going on in the “now” time of the poem.

Ballroom Diagram One


Annotated Bibliography

Annotated Bibliography

Coates, Ta-Nehisi. Between the World and Me. N.p.: Spiegel & Grau, 2015. Print.

Between the World and Me by Coats provides a first hand look at how racism is dealt with by a black man. The story is essentially a letter written to Coats’ son in an attempt to warn him of the dangers black people—men in particular—are faced with. The book also acts as a new perspective on racism in general ending with the assumption that there is no hope for blacks in America and nothing—not even being educated— can combat.

Strategy: Picking a Fight

Cooper, Brittney. “Guilty of Being Black in a White World: The Ludicrous Reason These Women Were Thrown off of a Train Last Weekend.” Saloncom RSS. Salon, 26 Aug. 2015. Web. 23 May 2016.

This is a short article discussing what happens when black women are present in a “white space.” The article goes on to explain a group of friends on a wine tour that were taken into custody for laughing “too loud” on a tour which was primarily white.

Strategy: Ass-kissing

Demirtürk, E. Lâle. “MELUS.” MELUS, vol. 34, no. 4, 2009, pp. 221–222.


This book tries to explore black bodies—both male and female—within a “white gaze.” The main target of the book is to unpack how blacks are perceived in the imagination of whites and to deconstruct the white gaze in order to learn how the white gaze functions in accordance with the lives of black counterparts.

Strategy: Ass-Kissing

Patton, Tracey Owens, and Snyder-Yuly Julie. “Any Four Black Men Will Do: Rape, Race, and the Ultimate Scapegoat.” Journal of Black Studies 37.6 (2007): 859-95. Web.

Patton tries to explain why exactly it is that black men have been so negatively stigmatized. He brings forth examples throughout history of how black men have always been a scapegoat for violence and destruction.

Strategy: Ass-kissing

Rankine, Claudia. Citizen: An American Lyric. N.p.: Graywolf, 2014. Print.

Citizen is a lyric that pushes the common person to rethink their everyday interactions with race. She brings forth several examples from pop culture that shape our collective imagination.

Strategy: Ass-Kissing

Yancy George. “Whiteness and the Return of the Black Body.” The Journal of Speculative Philosophy, vol. 19, no. 4, 2005, pp. 215–241. New Series,


In this particular book by Yancy he explains what it means to live in a “raced body.” He makes a clear distinction of white professionals making claims of a collective “us” while failing to realize that there are two groups that get folded together—“us” and “them.” Therefore, he claims, one cannot simply umbrella everyone together because it ignores the past implications of white domination over blacks.

Strategy: Piggybacking


For my project I’m thinking about using several different primary sources. One of the books I was considering using was Invisible Man by Ellison. The book focuses on a man that is considered invisible because he is black. I would also like to use another book named Between The World and Me by Coats. The book by Coats combats the idea of invisibleness proposed years before by Ellison in 1952. The questions I’m trying to focus on is how race and racism works in the brain. Both these books will help to get to a more definite answer to how race effects whites as well as blacks. I hope that this project will lead to answer my primary question of how race distinctions only exist in the mind and or brain and are not a physical characteristic of humans.

My primary secondary source will be Desmond, Matthew and Mustafa Emirbayer. 2016. Race in America. New York: WW Norton. This is a sociology textbook discussing how race functions in America and advantages and disadvantages associated with race. It also talks about how racist behaviors and actions began in America and how it is a continued phenomenon in a country that claims to be “color blind.” My other secondary source will be Bonilla­Silva, Eduardo. 2010. Racism Without Racists: Color­Blind Racism & Racial Inequality in Contemporary America. Third Edition. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. This book poses questions related to race and racism in present day situations and offer real life answers by subjects from the study. With further research I hope to find sources that explain how conditioning works in the brain and brain-washing which will lead to a possible explanation of how racism works.

My motive for this project is to understand how racism is taught and not innate. My purpose is simple which is to add to the conservation of how racism is an ongoing phenomenon which needs to be removed in order to have true “equality.” There have been hundreds of books written in multiple styles to address the problem of how racism works in America, but I hope to add to the conversation by exploring how conditioned perspectives help to perpetuate racism in the twenty-first contrary.

Cultural and Social Factors in Sir Gawain

So, even after the discussion I’m still really confused about this work…not that the plot or what is going on is confusing but that I think that everything is pretty much as is and I kinda of take it at face value. I’m not sure how to read deeper into the story or really see things that aren’t there…usually that isn’t a problem but I think I just have a fear of Medieval texts…that being said I’m just going to talk about a part of the supplemental reading I found interesting.

“But that’s hardly the point; more important is that there is good late medieval evidence that sexual acts were fundamental to an individual subject’s sense of self and location in larger cultural structures” (Dinshaw 207).

This quote kind of stood out to me because it reminded me of this sociological study I was reading about. The study was basically that gay men, I think in the 60’s, would be married and have kids with women they didn’t really love or even want just so that they wouldn’t be a disgrace to their families or the larger social settings they were a part of. Now, this is a stretch but just hear me out, if Gawain was gay right and being gay was looked down upon, was he just entertaining Morgan for a fear of the larger cultural and social structures? I mean I get that there’s a huge gap in time between the two instances but would that then explain why he doesn’t really pursue Morgan? It would certainly explain the weird behavior of Gawain and Morgan, but it would also explain the underlying behaviors between Gawain and Bertilak.

I do have to ask the question though was this the intention of author? I always seem to take the authors choices and intent into consideration because after all, it is their creation….

Side Note:

After partnering with Krystal in class and listening to how woman are portrayed in the piece, it got me thinking about the time period…It would make sense for woman to be depicted this way because this was the general consensus of woman back then. Now that there are all these new theories and feminists perspectives out it makes thinking about the story different, but I also think it’s important to keep the text in its original context.

Depression: Then and Now

So, I’m going off topic here, but I think it’s still relevant to the class because the issue of depression is a neurological issue that we haven’t really talked about. Hopefully this makes sense, but I’m still working through my own thoughts about the readings, maybe someone can help.

The first time I was taught Bartleby I was taught that this story depicted a very American idea, after all written by a one of the greatest American writers. It’s supposed to show us that you could do everything you possibly can for someone and it still not be good enough, or so I was taught. It’s also supposed to be reminiscent of biblical references. Where the lawyer is sort of a God figure and Bartleby is just a regular person.

After reading through the story again with all the information I have from this class the story seemed to mean something completely different. Although I do think the story does reflect American life I saw differences in the characters themselves.

The mental state of Bartleby seems to be shaky. I’m not a doctor so I can’t say if it’s depression or anxiety or whatever the case is. But the fact that he keeps repeating, “I would prefer not to” appears to be a repetitive phase like “I’m okay” or something bordering “good” mental health. Bartleby this time around appeared to be infantilized. He doesn’t complete the tasks asked of him and his response to everything is “I would prefer not to.” He kind of sounds like a teenager and not an adult.

In “The back of my own head” by Alberto Rios also seems to have the essence of depression perpetuated throughout the short story—a topic we haven’t really discussed—but is also a neurological phenomenon. The story is about a woman who’s husband was taken away from her or “stolen” as the story states. She goes into a serious state of depression which we can tell when she says, “I have been without energy, have been robbed not just of my husband, but of myself as well” (Rios 62).

The same essence of depression is noted in Bartleby as well, but probably more subtle because it is an older text. When asked to examine his work the lawyer says, “Will you not speak? Answer! ‘I prefer not to,’he replied in a flute-like tone.” This seems to me that Bartleby lost any ambition he once had. The lawyer is obvious angry and demands an explanation but Bartleby always replies the same “I would prefer not to.”

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