American Civilization

March 6, 2009

MidTerm Prompts

Filed under: prompts — equiano @ 11:26 am

Midterm Exam Prompt
American Studies 1B, Spring 2009 (Connelly, Daly, Georges)

BRING THIS SHEET TO THE EXAM ALONG WITH TWO COMPLETELY BLANK LARGE BLUE OR GREEN BOOKS AND TWO PENS OR PENCILS. DO NOT MARK ON THIS SHEET OR YOUR EXAM BOOKLETS IN ANY WAY! NO NAME, AND NO MARKS OF ANY KIND INSIDE OR OUT.

Three questions are printed below. Although only two will be randomly selected for you to write on during the exam period, you must prepare answers for all three.

Exam date: Thursday, March 12. Time: noon. Location: BBC 004 (lecture hall).

Details
> No books, notes, electronic devices, etc. – just exam booklets, pens, this sheet.
> Exam ends at precisely 1:15—no extra time for anyone.
> Please write in pen or pencil, using only one side of each page.
> We may assign or re-assign seating before or during the exam.
> No seminar meetings after the exam.

Exam Questions

1) The Progressive impulse that gained its highest visibility between 1895 and 1920 galvanized a variety of individuals and groups across the lines of race, ethnicity, class, and gender to reform American society. Describe Progressivism in terms of its causes and goals, and assess its outcomes using the works of three individuals from the list below to illustrate how the Progressive cause was advanced.

Ida Wells-Barnett, “Lynch Law in America”
W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk, Chs. 1 or 3 (choose one)
Booker T. Washington, Up From Slavery, Chs. 13 and 14
Jack London, “South of the Slot”
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper”
Anzia Yezierska, “America and I”
Jane Addams, Twenty Years at Hull House, Ch.8 “The Problems of Poverty”
Zitkala-Sa, “School Days”

2) Support for the earlier phases of U.S. imperialism took many forms. Arguments were advanced by policy makers and in popular culture to justify various instances of American intervention and aggression, from the racial cleansing of the western plains to the annexation of Hawaii to the colonization of the Philippines. Using the Norton, formulate a list of some of the most significant pro-imperialist arguments and explain the reasoning behind them, then consider them in light of three of the following anti-imperialist texts: “The Emperor Jones,” “This Bloody Blundering Business,” “Editha,” and “School Days.” How do these three texts criticize American empire not only in terms of their content but also in terms of their form?

3) Most—if not all—of this course’s primary sources evince an identifiably gendered perspective. Whether or not a text is overtly concerned with gender issues, gender and gendered dynamics—i.e., masculinity and femininity, male privilege and female subordination—often work in the background (as a “subtext”) to help create the text’s larger meanings.  Formulate a thesis about gender at the turn of the century based on a careful examination of the gendered perspectives in three primary sources. Think about the following questions to help you get started: How did gender intersect with other important categories of experience, like race, class, immigrant status, and religious identity? What role did gender and gendered dynamics play in the struggle against segregation and racial terrorism? In the Progressive movement? In westward expansion and imperialism? In responses to industrialization, immigration, technological change, etc.? Use the Norton and lectures to help establish historical context.

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