Literature 450: Guidelines on Exam One

The first exam is worth 25% of your final grade.  It will take place Tuesday, October 23 during class time.  Bring at least one large blue book with you to the exam!!  These are available at the campus bookstore.

I. The Essay Topic, Question, and Outline in Sum

The exam will consist of an essay on a topic of your choice.  This essay will demonstrate how well you can synthesize the materials covered in Section I 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 an essay outline and an essay question (or, alternatively, a thesis statement) in advance.  You will be able to consult your question and outline during the exam.

II. The Essay Exam

You do not need to write a polished essay for the exam, 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 (75 minutes).  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 texts 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 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 primary and secondary texts accurately and expertly, showing how these texts 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: 

III. The Essay Requirements

Requirement #1: You also must discuss in at least one paragraph Sigmund Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams.

Requirement #2: Over the course of the essay, you must discuss at least ThREE of the following five Hitchcock films, each in a full paragraph. If you discuss fewer than the five required primary texts, or have insufficient discussion about the texts that you do discuss, your total grade will be reduced (up to 15% for each). 

1.  Spellbound (1945),**

2.  Vertigo (1958) **

3.  Strangers on a Train (1951) **

4.  Psycho (1960) **

5.  Rebecca (1940) **


Requirement #3: At some point in your essay, you must incorporate quotations from the two of the following texts to support your argument. Make sure to describe the ideas expressed in the quotations correctly in your own words, show the connection between those ideas and your own argument, and finally clarify your own position in relation to them (e.g. do you agree, disagree, or agree only in part?).  If you include fewer than two quotations, your total grade will be reduced (8% for each missing).

1.   Freud’s “The ‘Uncanny’” (ER)

2.    Freud’s “Femininity” (ER)

3.   Jonathan Freedman, “From Spellbound to Vertigo(ER)

4.    Robert Corber, “Hitchcock’s Washington” (ER)

5.    David Sterritt, Films of Alfred Hitchcock **


Requirement #3:  Put the supporting quotations from the texts, as well as your thesis statement, on your outline to refer to during the exam and turn in once you are done.  The outline must be typed rather than handwritten, consuming no more than one side of ONE page (with whatever formatting options you prefer). It must be a true outline; that is, a brief, orderly sketch of memory-triggering expressions without fully formed sentences or paragraphs. You can include up to two quotations from each text and/or film. 

** Note: Besides the thesis and quotations, no other complete sentences or ideas can be on the outline, nor should the thesis itself be more than one sentence.

IV. Strategies for a Successful Exam

You will have one hour and fifteen minutes (75 minutes) to complete the exam, so you should have plenty of time to answer thoughtfully and thoroughly. Pace yourself by devoting roughly 10 minutes to each of the seven paragraphs: the introduction (delineating the scope of your topic and stating the thesis at the end), the four body paragraphs that together support your thesis (each on a different film or The Interpretation of Dreams), and finally the concluding paragraph that reinforces the main argument and indicates the larger implications of that argument once proven. Make sure to leave space around your essay and/or on the back of the page in case you have time to revise or expand it 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 and consult about the exam, my office hours are in Pray Harrold 603J (M 1:30–3:30, TTh 3:15–4:45).