Exam One: Femininities, Masculinities, and Sexualities

The first exam for WGST 202, an essay exam worth 25% of your final grade, will be on Monday, October 10.  You will have the entire class period (75 minutes) to complete the exam, so you should have plenty of time to write a comprehensive essay.

You will need to bring at least one large bluebook with you, as well as your outline for the essay and whatever writing implements that you feel most comfortable using.  Make sure to get your bluebooks in advance!  These are available at any campus bookstore.


I. The Essay Exam in Sum

The exam will consist of an essay on a topic of your choice relating to sexuality and/or gender as found in either the film American Beauty or the film Full Metal Jacket.  This essay will demonstrate how well you can synthesize the course materials covered in the first section of the term into a unified topic of inquiry, a topic of interest to yourself and of importance to others.  You will identify this topic on your own before the exam begins, composing a thesis statement and an essay outline in advance.  You will be able to consult your thesis and outline during the exam.

To encourage you to prepare for—and ultimately succeed on—the exam, a draft of each (worth up to 15 points) will be due by Monday, September 26, when you will workshop your approach to the essay with your peers.  You will need to bring revised versions with you to the exam and turn them in once finished. 

II. The Exam Criteria

You do not need to write a polished essay, so there is no need to worry about spelling or other technicalities.  The goal is to communicate as much meaning as possible and cover as much material as possible within the time that you have.  In other words, you need to demonstrate what you know relating to the topic of your essay inasmuch as you can, using concrete details from the films and critical essays or books to support your claims. 

There are five criteria for the essay, each weighted equally at 20% of the total grade:

1)  Selecting an interesting and important essay topic relating to gender and/or sexuality in the film, and clarifying its significance to your reader; 

2)  Reflecting on your topic with concerted, critical, and creative attention; 

3)  Substantiating your argument about the topic (that is, your thesis) with an array of concrete and convincing details, details that other, less conscientious, readers may have overlooked;

4)  Discussing both the filmic and critical texts accurately and expertly, showing how each relate to your topic and support your argument;

5)  Keeping your argument consistent, your focus coherent, and your writing organized throughout the essay.

See the Rubric for Essay Exams for specific characteristics of an effective essay: http://people.emich.edu/acoykenda/examrubric.htm. 

III. Essay Requirements

Over the course of the essay, you must directly quote at least Five of the critical materials, picking from the following and excluding any two of your choice. The texts are available in the Electronic Reserves, password 202.

1.  John Berger, Abridged Ways of Seeing (1972)

2.  Catharine MacKinnon, “Sex Equality” (1989)

3.  Michael S. Kimmel, “Masculinity as Homophobia” (2004)

4.  Ella Shohat, Abridged “Tropes of Empire” (1994)

5.  Uma Narayan, Abridged Dislocating Cultures (1997)

6.  Gayle S. Rubin, Abridged “Thinking Sex” (1984)

7.  Michel Foucault, “We Other Victorians” (1976)

** Note: You need to paraphrase (put into your own words) the ideas within each of the five quotes and show the connection between those ideas and your own argument.  If you are missing quotes from any of the five texts, or those quotes are thrown into the essay randomly without the significance or connections being made clear, your grade will be reduced up to 7% for each quote missing and/or under-analyzed. You can use additional texts to support your argument as well supposing that you have time. 

III. Essay Outline and Thesis

You must prepare a outline to refer to during the exam.  The outline will have your five supporting quotations as well as your thesis statement.  The outline must be no longer than one side of ONE page (with whatever formatting options you prefer). It also must be a true outline; that is, a brief, orderly sketch of memory-triggering expressions without any fully formed sentences or paragraphs.  Besides the thesis statement, no other complete sentences or complete ideas can be on the outline, nor can the thesis statement be more than one sentence.

V. Strategies for a Successful Exam

You will have one hour and fifteen minutes (75 minutes) to complete the exam, so you should have sufficient time to write the essay. Pace yourself by devoting roughly 15 minutes to each of the five paragraphs: namely,

a)     The introduction (delineating the scope of your topic and stating the thesis at the end);

b)     The three body paragraphs that together support your thesis (each on distinct and clearly delineated subtopics);

c)     The concluding paragraph (reinforcing the main argument and indicating the larger implications of that argument once proven).

Make sure to leave space around the paragraphs and/or on the back of the pages in case you have time to revise or expand the essay in any way.  You can often improve your grade simply by double-checking your work before leaving the room.

If you want to stop by to consult about the exam, my office hours are Monday 4:45-5:15, Wednesday 4:45-6:45, and Friday 11-12:45 in 603J Pray Harrold. Remember that the first time that you visit my office hours in person with a course-related inquiry, I will give you 10 points extra credit for the visit.