Engl 277b
Spring '00

Final Examination


Write two essays (2-3 pages long) on two of the following topics. Your essays must engage texts you read for the course after the mid-term exams. In writing the essays, you may consult the texts themselves, your class notes, and the material on the course webpage. Please do not consult supporting texts other than those already used in class. You may not discuss the exam with others when taking it. There is no time limit for this exam. Exams from seniors are due at 5 PM on Saturday, 6 May 2000. Please note that this deadline is absolute since we must file senior grades on Monday. Exams from the rest of the class are due at 12 Noon on Friday, 12 May 2000. Please do not try to send me the exams as email attachments, but drop them off in the folder on my office door in Hall 204.

The following topics require you to relate aspects of the theoretical and sociological essays we read for the class to the novels. Be specific and focused in your essays, bringing in adequate and appropriate textual detail to support your analyses.

Good luck, and have a wonderful summer.

1. In her essay "From Chipko to Sati," Radha Kumar offers examples of women's activism that not only leave unchallenged patriarchal assumptions about gender roles but rather bolster and draw strength from them. Discuss one or two episodes from a text of your choice that produce similar effects. Explore the causes and effects of such instances.

2. In her discussion of the growth and maturing of women's movements in contemporary South Asia, Kumar elaborates on the ways feminist concepts of sisterhood are practiced as well as redefined. Analyze the textual features that represent bonds between women in a text of your choice.

3. In Kumar's discussion, the strategy of "troping the trope" (reworking, redefining, appropriating traditional figures) of femininity is shown to be unstable, contradictory, and sometimes downright dangerous as political strategy. How does this revisionist gesture work in a text of your choice?

4. Vandana Shiva argues that the processes of our contemporary world create pervasive conditions of homelessness--physical and psychological. She suggests that one remedy to this problem is to re-understand the soil, earth, and land as the maternal and indeed sacred basis of our being, and thereby to begin reasserting a sense of spiritual belonging. Consider these claims in relation to a text of your choice.

5. Shiva draws out the contradictory history of rhetoric that yokes motherhood to nation. Consider the terms by which this connection is explored in a text of your choice.

6. Mohanty reveals that her notions of home and community are unavoidably refracted through the prism of her experience of race, class, and gender relations in the U.S. Examine a text we read this semester for the way it represents home and community in terms of larger social hierarchies.

7. Mohanty delineates the "partial, interested, and deliberate" genealogy she creates for herself as a springboard for her political and social activism. Discuss the ways a novel represents similar processes of self-invention. What do these processes enable character and text to realize?