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3 short separate Essay. This is a literacy Criticism class. I have attached the actual assignment to this post. Below is just a few more things that will help complete this assignment. These are a list of the books used for this class…Bennett, Andrew and Nicholas Royle. An Introduction to Literature, Criticism, and Theory, 5th ed. New York: Routledge, 2016.Beidler, Peter G. Henry James, The Turn of the Screw, 3rd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010. Print. Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism. Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things. New York: Random House, 1997
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ENGL 3099: Literary Criticism
Course Exam (take-home) – Due: November 6th
Please read the exam guidelines and questions carefully. I encourage you to refer frequently to
the questions as you are composing your essays.
For the course exam in Literary Criticism, you will write THREE essay questions. The exam is
worth 150 points.
The exam is made up of two parts. Part One consists of three essay questions (Questions A, B,
and C); you must choose two of the questions and write an essay for each. Part Two consists of
a single essay question (Question D) which every student must answer. In total, each student
will write THREE essays, two from Part One and one from Part Two.
Your essays will be evaluated based on:
(1) Your demonstrated grasp of the key ideas and concepts relevant to each question.
(2) The level and quality of critical thinking you demonstrate in your essay (Are your claims
consistently strong, clear, and precise? Do your essays demonstrate sophisticated and
nuanced engagement with the ideas relevant to each question?)
(3) Your ability to communicate your ideas in clear, persuasive, and well-organized prose.
(4) The completeness with which you address the specific elements of each essay question.
Use your word count wisely, and craft essays that make strong, clear, and precise claims. I
recommend that you outline your points before composing your essays, and that you build
enough time in to go back and revise them after completing an initial draft. (Revision is best
done after you’ve been away from your draft for a few hours, or better, a full day.)
Finally, please note the recommended word count guidelines for each essay question.

For those who struggle to generate prose, please note: The lower number of the
suggested word-count range represents the minimum you should shoot for in order to
present an essay that is developed enough to do adequate justice to the question.
Essays that are significantly shorter than the lower number of the range will likely suffer
from being under-developed.

For those who are inclined to write a lot: Please try not to exceed the upper number of
the suggested word-count range. For you, this exam will be an exercise in concision—
that is, communicating your ideas as succinctly as possible while still being clear.
Formatting guidelines:

Collect all of your essays into one single file.


Clearly label your work as follows: “Essay A”, “Essay C,” and so on, making sure to
provide a few spaces between each essay.
Your essays should be typed, double-spaced, with standard margins (1-inch, or 1 ¼inch)
Note: Please carefully PROOFREAD your exam before submitting it. You may lose credit if your
work is difficult to read due to typos, grammatical errors, or other easily preventable mistakes.
PART ONE: Choose TWO of the following questions (from A, B, and C), and write
an essay, about 700-900 words long, for each.
QUESTION A: on Paul Armstrong, “Interpretive Conflict and Validity”
Paul B. Armstrong frames his essay, “Interpretive Conflict and Validity” by evoking two extreme
theories of literary interpretation, represented on one side by the “radical relativists” (or
“anarchists”) and on the other side by the “monists” (or “absolutists”). Armstrong claims that
“[n]either standpoint can account for the paradox that characterizes the actual daily practice of
literary studies—the paradox that critics [and other readers] can have legitimate disagreements
about what a text means but that they are also able to say with justification that some readings
are wrong, not simply different” (2). In his essay, Armstrong calls for a “theory of limited
pluralism to explain this paradox and to chart a middle way between the anarchists and the
absolutists” (2). A key feature of Armstrong’s “middle way” is his articulation of three “tests for
validity” which “act as constraints on understanding and mark a boundary between permissible
and illegitimate readings” (12).
First, explain what Armstrong means by the phrase “limited pluralism and briefly
summarize his three “tests for validity.” Then, discuss how Armstrong’s essay might help us
better understand how it is possible for there to be multiple conflicting, but still valid,
interpretations of a single literary text—a text like The Turn of the Screw, for instance. Finally,
critically evaluate Armstrong’s essay on “Interpretive Conflict and Validity” by discussing
what you find most persuasive and what you find least persuasive (if anything) in the essay.
QUESTION B: on the Canon Controversy
The term “canon” in literary studies refers to “those literary works that are privileged (accorded
special status) by a given culture.” We use the term synonymously with “classics, or ‘Great
Books’—texts that are repeatedly reprinted, anthologized, and taught in classes” (Bedford
Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms). One widespread assumption concerning the canon is
that some works just are great, and will inevitably be recognized as such; time will naturally
“sift” them out from all the other lesser works. This assumption has faced increasing scrutiny in
recent decades, as many literary critics and theorists have come to question the objectivity of
canon formation. The resultant controversy over the canon—over which works should be
canonized, how works get canonized, and who gets to decide—has been one of the most
important developments in contemporary English Studies.
With these reflections as a backdrop, and using the following bullet points as a guide when
composing your essay, summarize the arguments presented in the essay by Tompkins (“But Is
it Any Good?…”) and the Preface to the first edition of the Heath Anthology of American
Literature (1990). Once you have finished summarizing these arguments, conclude your essay
by discussing which ideas (from Tompkins and the Heath Anthology Preface) you find most
compelling, and which ideas (if any) you find less compelling.
Note: Although you don’t need to explicitly reference Bennett and Royle’s discussion of the canon in Ch.
6 of our textbook (“Monuments”), you may want to review that chapter before you draft your essay.
Feel free to cite or quote from the “Monuments” chapter if it would help you develop your essay.

In her essay, Jane Tompkins directly challenges two conventional assumptions about
the canon—namely: (1) that canon formation is an objective, unbiased process, and
(2) that “literary excellence” is something timeless and universal. Summarize her
arguments against these two popular assumptions.

For the Heath Anthology Preface (“To the Reader”), answer the following questions:
What are the main ideas, principles, and values guiding their construction of this
new (i.e., new in 1990) anthology of American Literature? What was revolutionary
about those ideas, principles, and values back in 1990?
QUESTION C: on Sexual Difference
In their discussion of sexual difference (Ch. 23), Bennett and Royle offer a critique of
essentialism. Explain what essentialism is and how it operates with regards to sexual difference.
In your discussion of essentialism, be sure to define what binary oppositions are and explain
how they are relevant to the concept of essentialism. Then discuss what our textbook authors
find problematic about essentialism, and what kind of thinking they offer as an alternative.
In your discussion of essentialism and binary oppositions, you should use a specific literary text
to help you illustrate your points. Feel free to use “The Yellow Wall-paper” for this purpose, just
as Bennett and Royle do in Chapter 23. Or, if you want a more challenging task, you can use
another literary or cultural text to illustrate your points.
Turn to the next page for the final essay question   
PART TWO: Write an essay, 900-1000 words long, in response to the following
question. (Note: this essay is required.)
QUESTION D: on Your Philosophy of Interpretation
Compose a statement of your own philosophy of interpretation, indicating how your thinking
has changed and/or developed over the course of this semester. First, reflect on the
assumptions about literary interpretation you brought with you into this course, and then
sketch a statement of your philosophy of interpretation as you see it developing in response to
our readings and discussions this semester. Ultimately, your narrative should demonstrate a
growing self-awareness on your part about the assumptions that have driven your personal
reading and interpretation habits, and offer some deep reflection on how you see those habits
and assumptions evolving as a result of the critical reflection we’ve done in this course. Use the
question prompts below to help shape your essay. You don’t need to address all the questions,
only the ones that speak most directly to how your own thinking has changed or developed this
semester.
Note: In your essay, you must make meaningful reference to at least 3 chapters from our
Bennett & Royle textbook.
Your essay will be evaluated in terms of: (1) how clearly and persuasively you present your own
position on the issues you discuss, (2) your demonstrated understanding of the terms,
concepts, and ideas that you reference in your essay, and (3) the degree of thoughtfulness in
your personal reflections on how your thinking has changed this semester.
Question prompts to guide your essay:





How has your thinking about authorship and authorial intention changed or developed
in this course?
Which of these entities—author, text, reader—do you tend to prioritize or give the most
authority to when interpreting a novel or poem, and which do you tend to ignore, or deemphasize? Why? (And does your approach vary from work to work? If so, explain.)
Finally, how has your thinking evolved on this issue over the course of this semester?
What do you make of Paul Armstrong’s case for “limited pluralism”? How has
Armstrong’s essay challenged or informed your own thinking about interpretive
conflict? When you started the course, were you closer to a monist or a radical relativist
when it comes to literary interpretation? Where are you now, and how do you justify
your current position?
As we’ve discussed in class, one of the more general trends in literary criticism and
theory since 1970 has been a greater emphasis on context in the interpretation of
literary texts. Here, “context” refers to historical, social, cultural, and political contexts,
as well as consideration of social issues like race, gender, and class. How prominent a
role do these contextual issues play in your own reading and thinking about literature?
How would you justify your position on this issue, especially in light of your reading and
thinking for this course?
Finally, what other issues or topics from this course have been most important in
helping you develop your own thinking as a critical reader and interpreter of literary
texts, and why?

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