UCLR 100C-004: Interpreting Literature - Classical Studies
Personal Statement in Greek and Roman Literature
Fall Semester 2018
Dr. Jacqueline Long
Life Science Building 412
Study Guide for Exam 1: Lyric Poetry of Archaic Greece
The exam will have three parts; there will be some measure of choice
within each part.
- short identifications: basic information such as facts & terms,
and brief statements of their relevance to our studies
(small credit per item, but adding up to a significant component of the exam)
- passages of translated archaic Greek lyric we have read: identify context
and discuss in concrete specific terms important ideas in our study-material
that the the text illustrates most prominently - in form or in content, by sound
or by ideas or by expression, about the poet or the performer(s) or the occasion
or the audience - in the context of the individual poem or fragment or of that
poet's work or of other poets' works and of archaic Greek lyric more generally
(each passage-essay earns a medium amount of credit, adding up to the biggest
component of the exam)
- essay: discuss a thematic question, drawing for support of your
contentions on specific, concrete evidence from different poets (the thematic essay
also earns a medium amount of credit; a significant component of the exam)
Things to study
It is always useful -in any class- to think about how the different elements of the
course-work serve the course-design. How have the texts we have read and discussed served
as literature to be interpreted? How have different questions we have asked, and different
exercises we have done, opened up different ways of interpreting our texts? What insights
have you gained - into those texts, into how literature does what it does, into other
readers of literature, into yourself as a reader of literature? What patterns do you see?
Pursue significance: ask, "why does it matter?" Take your answers seriously. Be able to
explain them. Be able to show what evidence supports them, and how. Recognize too that
understanding grows as you build it, in more and more dimensions. The connections you see
now and the insights you develop will equip you to keep reading more and more productively.
identify important ideas and identify specific passages that illustrate them;
be able to explain with clear reasoning how the ideas work, what makes them important,
and show with concrete evidence how the texts back up your insights.
You could be asked to identify some of the following items. Besides reporting specific
information, you should also be able to state, briefly, concrete reasons why the information
is important for understanding archaic Greek lyric poetry, or poetry, or literature more
generally. By recognizing why information matters, you equip yourself to understand more
Themes and techniques: for the following and for terms and concepts also suggested above as potential identification-items,
identify good particular examples in poems and fragments. Be able to analyze them individually and to trace them through
multiple poems or authors so as to build up a comprehensive view.
- the poets whose work we've read (names, rough dates, biographical information we know
that relates to important ideas or techniques in their poetry)
- important figures in poems or fragments we've read (such as gods and mythological or real-life people with
whom the poets show notable concern in their poetry: for example, Aphrodite, the Muses, Zeus; Geryon, Helen,
Kastor & Polydeukes; Anaktoria, Lykambes, Peisistratos)
- ancient Greek poetic forms (such as dithyramb, epinician, epithalamium, funerary elegy, hymn,
kletic hymn, partheneion, skolion)
- ancient Greek social practices that relate to ancient Greek uses of lyric poetry (such
as chorus, festival competition, hoplite, symposium)
- concepts used in literary analysis (such as antihero, genre, metaliterary, persona, personification)
- terms relating to social constructs that may be reflected in literature (such as androcentric, gender, misogyny)
- structures of ideas in poems we have read (such as animal-fable, hyperbole, palinode, paradox, priamel,
triad [strophe, antistrophe, epode])
- what images, visual or otherwise, are prominent in the poem? what effect do they create?
- what emotions does the poem evoke? how? what does it do with them?
- does the poem give a sense of a particular person speaking through the poem, either the author or a performer? how?
- what ideas does the poem talk about? how does the poem fit the ideas into a relationship of performer/persona
- how is the poem organized? how does that organization unfold as the poem is being delivered - how
does the organization shape the audience's experience of the poem?
- does the poem tell a story? how?
- does the poem imply a story without telling it? how? how does this story relate to the things the poem says?
- to what ancient Greek literary form does the poem belong? how does the poem work within and/or against
standard expectations of that genre?
- what impulses, personal or divine, does the poet suggest produce this poem in particular, or poetry generally?
- what does the poet suggest this poem in particular, or poetry generally, does to its audiences? how?
- does the poem say anything about when or where or how it was performed?
- how did the (probable) circumstances of the poem's performance relate to its content?
- how does the poem fit itself into the relationships between individuals and their community? what types of
relationship are important in the poem?
- how does the poem fit itself into personal relationships?
- what conduct and what values does the poem recommend? how?
- the cosmos
- how does the poem suggest that nature relates to human life?
- how does the poem suggest that divinity relates to human life?
- how does the poem suggest, or recommend, that humans understand their relationship to the natural and divine world around them?
Strategic advice for exam-writing
- Identifications come across especially clearly and convincingly
when you back them up by mentioning a specific point in one of our
texts that illustrates your point.
- In both passage-essays and topic-essays, be sure to explain clearly how your ideas
work and why they're significant.
- Show the evidence that supports your argument and explain your reasoning clearly,
logical step by logical step. Take your reader with you, in order to persuade.
- With passage-essays, you've got text right there in which
you can anchor your discussion very specifically. Take advantage
of this resource for concreteness and detail.
- Connect the dots: when you want to add a passage to your
discussion, in support of your interpretations or for comparison,
show what makes it relevant - then when you explain what's going on in it,
it will also help support your central argument.
- Building on discussions we've had in class and taking even further
the understanding we've established together, shows how you are growing your own learning.
It makes exam papers truly exciting. Education
aims above all for you to develop your knowledge, skills, confidence, and
the interest to claim an inquiry for yourself. Go for it!
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