English 325: Midterm Exam Study Guide

The purpose of this study guide is not to indicate exactly what will be on the exam. The ideas below are intended to help organize your studying and to think about the works we've read and studied this semester. Use these ideas with 1.) 1.) your notes and own ideas to think about the poems and prose we have read and 2.) a review of the texts we've read--key passages.  Don't forget the Intro. to the Victorian Age and the Queen Victoria's Empire video give you historical and social context for many of these ideas, along with the author bios. This is not an all-inclusive list and does not cover every idea or work that may be on the midterm exam.

A main focus should be the course themes (Course Notes) around which our course is organized. (See below.)  Think about how each work we've read and discussed reflects its theme.  But also consider how individual works address more than one theme.    The exam will cover the Intro to the Victorian Age through Dr J & Mr H--mainly Dr Jekyll's narrative, ch 10.

Write out practice responses to previous quiz questions and questions you make up. Remember the quiz examples we went over in class. The Watson card from in-class group work should be helpful. The Course Notes (website) page also has info. to help you study.

Question types:

  1. Identifications: You will identify an unmarked passage (title of the poem or prose piece) and explain its significance as well as its relationship to the entire work.  (I will not give you obscure passages.)
  2. Multiple choice, matching, or fill in the blank
  3. Short Answer*

*like quiz questions.

Time for midterm: You will have the full class period--75mins--for thinking, writing, and revising/editing)

You will also have some choices about questions you have to answer.

Below are some issues we have considered this semester. Expand on these and add works not listed here. Also, works might fit in more than one category. The midterm will cover the Intro to the Victorian Age through Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. You should know some basic dates (e.g., beginning and ending of the Victorian Age) as well as key historical events (e.g., Hamidian massacres)



We focused our theme of empire using postcolonial theory.  A key idea from this theory is the idea of "cultural imperialism," a term used by critic Edward Said.  As we discussed in "TSB," force begets force, a warning that force as a way of governing an empire had violent repercussions.  However, rather than the use of force--or in addition to the use of force--this imperialism used a Eurocentric discourse (e.g., white, European values and attitudes) to define indigenous people as uncultured, primitive, impulsive, and inferior. This distinction helps to answer our questions: What are the distinctions between colonialism and the (new) imperialism?  (See the NA Intro to the Victorian Age/bkgrd info on empire.) We also considered empire as a place (realism, geography) and an idea (romance, storytelling).  Does the storyteller (e.g., Dr. Watson/narrator of "TMWWBK") control and shape our view of indigenous peoples, British citizens who travelled abroad, or the empire itself in negative and positive ways?  Also, how are empire and storytelling dependent on each other (e.g., the empire as a blank, open space to be filled, stories as having a narrator who shapes and interprets them, and stories as promoting adventure and cultural values that perpetuate empire, even living a story (fiction) by making it real).  And what is the relationship between the use of force and storytelling?  Are they mutually reinforcing?  At odds with each other?  Both? Can literature be used to call on a nation or empire to act morally and ethically? Finally, is it possible to rule an empire benevolently, responsibly, and justly?  Can military and industrial power be used to enforce moral and ethical values?  Or is the idea of having an empire antithetical to moral and ethical human and social values? 

Examples:  Kipling's "The Man Who Would Be King," The Purple East (Watson sonnets)


For this theme we explored how children are taught as well as methods of teaching.  But we also considered the goals and values of education as we looked at elementary and grammar schools as well as university education.  What do the texts we read reveal about Victorian attitudes about education?  How do children learn best?  What type of education do they need?  What curriculum best serves children?  Is moral and ethical instruction an important complement to core subjects? In addtion, how should teachers teach?  What challenges did teachers face, and what methods were most effective?  Finally, as we examined university education, we made personal connections to the purpose of a university education and what a university eduction should prepare us for, e.g., job training? careers? becoming better citizens? knowledge for the sake of knowledge?  How do issues of gender and social class play into education?  The background info on Victorian education is very helpful.

Examples:  Hard Times, Lark Rise, The Idea of a University

Individualism, Society, and Democracy

During the Victorian age, a significant question was the relationship between the individual and society.  How can the desires and freedom of the individual be balanced against the need for law and social order?  Is society instrumental in defining what a "self" is?  What constitutes the "self"?  Also, to what degree does a democracy require freedom?  Obedience to the law? What happens when an individual exercises too much freedom?  Acts on his or her desires in a way that threatens social order?  And what happens when society's social codes and conventions stifle individuality, force individuals to repress elements of themselves? Another question is the idea of freedom itself.  What is freedom? And what does one do with freedom when he or she has it? Finally, what responsibility does a society have to provide for its poor, disenfranchised, and voiceless members? What are the effects of poverty and no or little education?

Examples: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Crossover works:  What works fit in more than one category?  For example, can "The Speckled Band," listed under Empire," also be listed under the Individual, Society, and Democracy?  Consider other possibilities.

Genre:  How does short fiction, prose, and poetry allows us to experience the themes we've studies so far this semester?  For example, the sonnet form in The Purple East, the prose structure of The Idea of a University, or the short stories we've read.