Thanks to my committee members and the graduate office of the English department, I am able to post some sample questions. Of course, these are not the actual questions that will show up on the exam. These are either similar to questions that have shown up on previous exams, or questions I was asked by members of my committee before my exam. I think they are incredibly helpful in thinking about how to answer questions for the test using both required and optional texts on the list.
Look at William Wordsworth's "Preface to Lyrical Ballads" and discuss the differences (if any) between his beliefs on what the poet should be and what T.S. Eliot believes from "Tradition and the Individual Talent."
Starting with George Washington Gomez by Americo Paredes and it's sub-heading as a "Mexicotexan Novel," discuss the issue of works falling under more than one genre heading. Use two other works from the list, at least one of which must be pre-1850.
In any two works discuss the issue of the unreliable narrator.
1. Using Troilus and Criseyde, Dr. Faustus, Samson Agonistes, and Frankenstein, discuss if the main female figure in the work is loyal or not. Why, why not, and to whom?
2. Using The Sound and the Fury, "The Artificial Nigger", and Breath, Eyes, Memory, discuss the mother figure in each work and how they have or have not abandoned their family.
What became clear to me when attempting to answer these questions is how important it is to know the timeline and where each work falls in history. You’ll have to be able to know works that come before the year 1850, works that fall in the post-modern era as opposed to modern, and also things like whether a work came before or after the invention of the printing press. Yes, this is a lot of stuff to just “know.” And yes, I am scared too.
With that being said, this will most likely be my last post before the actual exam. The written for the Fall 2011 semester is scheduled for Monday, October 24th from 12:00-4:00pm. And my oral is scheduled for Thursday, October 27th at 3:15. I hope for the best for everyone out there.