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 3: Lyric & Elegy of Classical Rome; Christian Self-Declaration
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 Classical Roman poetry and later-Roman Christian prose 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 writer or the subject(s) or the occasion
or the audience(s) - in the context of the individual poem or prose work or of that
author's work and career or of the literary traditions in which the work participates
(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 poetic or prose works we have
studied (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.
Explain them. Show what evidence supports them, and how. Recognize 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 ready 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 Classical Roman lyric and elegiac poetry, or poetry, or later-Roman
Christian prose, or their literary traditions, 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 authors whose work we've read (names, rough dates, biographical information we know
that relates to important ideas or techniques in their writing)
- important figures in poems or prose works we've read (for example, Lesbia, Vergil, Lycoris,
Cerinthus, Cynthia, Dinocrates, Felicity, Monnica, Ambrose)
- concepts used in literary analysis (such as Alexandrian, allegory, apostrophe, carpe diem, climax,
crisis, fiction, genre, hyperbole, memoir, metaliterary, passion, persona, personification, prayer,
programmatic, recusatio, translation)
- terms relating to social constructs that may be reflected in literature (such as catechumen, cosmopolis,
deacon, gender, Hellenistic, imperialism)
- historical and cultural concerns relating to works we have studied (such as Roman civil wars, conquest of Egypt,
religious conversion, baptism, martyrdom, astrology, Manichaeism, Platonism, rhetoric)
- what images, visual or otherwise, are prominent in the work, or particular passage of a longer work?
what effect do they create?
- what emotions does the work evoke, or particular passage of a longer work? how? what does it do with them?
- what characters does the work present? how does it portray them: what sorts of person do they seem to be,
and by what means does the work suggest they are such sorts of person?
- does the work give a sense of a particular person speaking through the work, either a sensibility
engaged with the events & activities described as a participant, or the person who did participate at the
time now looking back from a different perspective as author, or a non-participant thinking about participants? how?
- what ideas does the work talk about, or particular passage of a longer work? how does the work or passage
fit its ideas into a relationship of persona and audience? consider both particular, concrete ideas the work
addresses directly and broader themes it suggests more indirectly.
- how is the work organized? how does that organization unfold as the work is being delivered - how
does the organization shape the audience's experience of the work?
- does the work, or series of works such as individual poems in a collection, or passage within a larger
work, tell a story? how?
- does the work or series or passage imply a story without telling it? how? how does this story relate to
the things the work says?
- literary form
- what literary form(s) or tradition(s) does the work invite its audiences to make reference to, in some kind of
dialogue with the particular work itself? how? how does the work set itself in line with and/or against expectations?
- what impulses, personal or otherwise, does the writer suggest produce this work? by what means does the
writer/persona suggest those impulses operate?
- what does the writer suggest this work in does to its audiences? how?
- how does the work fit itself into the relationships between individuals and their community? what types of
relationship are important in the work?
- what conduct and what values does the work recommend? for what reasons? by what means does the work make
- the cosmos
- how does the work suggest that natural forces relate to human life?
- how does the work suggest that divinity relates to human life?
- how does the work 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 matter.
- Show the evidence that supports your argument. 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!
BACK to UCLR 100C Schedule of Readings & Assignments
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