Final Exam Assignment 2016


Email submission window: 3-10 May

(Official exam schedule: 9 May, 7-9:50pm.)

Essay 1: Overall learning experience

Essay 2: Special topic

Essay 1: Overall learning experience (continue midterm essay?)

Assignment: Referring to our course's primary and critical texts especially since the midterm, describe, organize, and unify your learning experience with Tragedy and Africa, assessing the potential value of the course materials. How may Tragedy and Africa meet, with what results? What do we learn about the nature of Western literature from classical tragedy and about Africa as a precolonial, colonial, and postcolonial state from its tragic literature?

As a review of your overall learning experience, you should refer to your midterm essay, your research project, and possibly the instructor's responses. You are not required to reproduce your earlier writings beyond summaries or possible quotations.

Refer briefly to other texts, courses, or experiences, or ideas of your own, but keep refocusing on our texts, objectives, handouts, and discussions—the common ground where the class meets.

Cover as much course material as you can explain compellingly and readably, but you can’t cover everything and aren’t expected to. Much of your own contribution will be selecting, prioritizing, emphasizing, and connecting what matters to you and whatever set of identities you represent or values you promote. Make it interesting!

You may personalize your discussion and use the pronoun “I” (not required), but keep returning to shared material. You might organize by describing previous knowledge or experience of genre, then what learned.

Possible themes or emphases:

Where may the two traditions of Classical Greek Tragedy and modern African literature meet and diverge? What do we gain or lose by reading them separately or together?

What do we gain as readers by bringing two such distinct literary traditions into dialogue?

How does our seminar topic topic test or challenge a student of literary studies? What values does it affirm, challenge, or extend? How does our subject matter challenge typical preparation  for literary studies and offer new possibilities, however difficult or disorienting? What do we learn (positively or negatively) about literary studies from these possibilities?

Essay 2: Special topic (Any of these topics or options may be combined.)

Aristotle's Poetics and Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy (esp. the Apolline & Dionysiac) as guides to understanding Greek tragedy and possibly African tragic narratives. Potential and limits to Western criticism as interpretive guides for African texts.

Status or representation of women in Greek tragedy, African literature generally, and particularly our single woman-authored text, The Rape of Shavi. Potential extensions to tragedy's representation of family and state as gendered domains.

Historical significance of tragedy as an imperial or postcolonial phenomenon.

Tragedy's depiction of humanity as a cross-cultural concept in Greek and African texts. (Do tragedies reflect universal or cultural values?)

Moral distribution (sharing of guilt, shame, honor, virtue) in tragedy and African literature. (How does Tragedy complicate questions of crime and justice?)

Choose a specific objective (or part of one) from Course Objectives. Evaluate, illustrate, criticize, revise. Or suggest an additional objective or addition.

Mediate Africa as birthplace of humanity with Classical Athens as birth of Western Civilization (not to mention Birth of Tragedy)

Discuss the importance of a central stage, agora, marketplace, theater, or palace for enactment of tragedy.

Choose a particular term or related set of terms (tragic flaw, hamartia, hubris, catharsis, spectacle, chorus, irony) and apply to Greek tragedies and African texts.

Define the tragic narrative in relation to comedy, romance, and / or satire. Apply your definition to at least one Greek tragedy and one African text. (Narrative genres)

Describe the unconscious power of narrative using the metaphors of melody but especially ritual or ceremony, and apply to at least one Greek Tragedy and one African text.

Aristotle's Poetics indicates family as a recurrent if not essential subject for tragedy. Evaluate and apply to at least one Greek Tragedy and one African text.

The realms of humanity and divinity (or the afterlife) are somewhat distinct but also inseparable in Greek tragedy and African literature. Describe how African and Greek texts resemble and differ in these respects.

The connection between Africa and Tragedy may remain tenuous or experimental, but a defense for this course may be the quality of its primary texts. How account for the profundity and durability of tragic literature across time, space, and culture?

Develop a topic of your own devising.

default discussion questions for every class:

1. How or why is a text classified as a Tragedy or not?

2. Do texts reflect universal or cultural values (i.e., Western Civilization or African? Modern or Traditional?)

3. What aspects of the text elude classification as Tragedy? What other terms or categories are applicable?

4. What is surprising about Tragedy? (As greatest genre, tragedy must evolve)

5. How does Tragedy complicate questions of crime and justice?

6. How may Tragedy and Africa meet?