Introduction to Critical Theory

1. In Plato’s Cave, Socrates tells Glaucon the following:
And now look again, and see what will naturally follow if the prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows; and then conceive some one saying to him, that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now, when he is approaching nearer to being and his eye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision, -what will be his reply? And you may further imagine that his instructor is pointing to the objects as they pass and requiring him to name them, — will he not be perplexed? Will he not fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the objects which are now shown to him? (3 points)

What is the point that Socrates is trying to make?
a. Truth is easy to discern if one is in the right place and at the right time
b. Truth is hard to discern because we depend upon others to show us the way
c. Wisdom comes at a price that we must pay
d. How one perceives reality is dependent upon the lens or discourse one has been taught or has experienced

2. Plato believed that artists were not always truthful, meaning that their art wasn’t based on the truths found in reality, so he held them in less esteem than Aristotle who believed (3)
a. that artists often had to change facts of reality in order to find and relate deeper universal truths.
b. thought was ultimately “One” and could be known through a dialectical method.
c. language, rhythm, and harmony were the most important determinants of art.
d. a statue would have merit if it were true to life.
3. On the one hand Oedipus is a good man in that he seeks to learn the truth about why his city is “sick,” on the other, Oedipus truly did get himself into a mess by arguing, fighting and then killing that man on the road (his father), and then (3) a. attesting to the power of the community in shaping a ruler’s consciousness to lead correctly b. answering the riddle by the Sphinx to become the ruler of Thebes. c. leading to the major paradox of the play d. leading his family to the funeral pyre in mourning
4. What does Christine de Pisan write about education in The Book of the City of Ladies? (3) a. Women must not become educated because they must serve the king in the role for which they were born b. Women must become educated only if they need to obtain a job because they are widowed. c. I am amazed by the opinion of some men who claim that they do not want their daughters, wives, or kinswomen to be educated because their mores would be ruined as a result. d. Only foolish men want women to become educated.
5. Four hundred years ago, Aphra Behn wrote the following in her Preface to The Lucky Chance: “This being my opinion of Plays, I studied only to make this as entertaining as I could, which whether I have been successful in, my gentle reader….For waving the examination why women having equal education with men, were not as capable of knowledge, of whatsoever sort as well as they: I’ll only say as I have touched before, that plays have not great room for that which is men’s great advantage over women, that is learning” (Leitch). (6)
In your opinion what is the purpose of this remark?____________________________________________________
6. What is the purpose of art for Sir Philip Sidney? (3) a. To think about art, one must go inside oneself and become still, to think about what is there and then to reconcile that inner art of oneself to what one finds outside oneself. b. nature is a great waste of time because art that is filled with God’s presence is all one needs c. to make people behave better, to help people avoid evil, help people know how to obey laws, become virtuous, become just, become good citizens, to avoid evil and follow the light. d. to make people rely upon one another for support instead of God
7. The famed Englightenment thinker, Immanuel Kant believe that freedom was (3) a. the ability to do whatever one wished. b. noted in relation to thinking, that in fact, one could not be free if one did not think things through. c. following the Church, meaning one’s priest and bishop, told one to do. d. subjectively drawn, meaning we must feel it on a whole host of levels.
8. Mary Wollstonecraft and Germaine de Stael share many common beliefs: Both Wollstonecraft and de Stael believed that women will become equal by education with respect to opportunity. Wollstonecraft and de Stael also shared the belief that women have the capacity to transform the entire social order. Another common idea that could be attributed to both women writers is that women become agents of their lives through experience. Read over the class material on Wollstonecraft and de Stael and point out one way these two women differ. (6)
9. Many critics have written about the realism found in Henrik Ibsen’s famous play A Doll’s House. Most people associate realism with art’s ability to mirror reality. What is one other meaning of the word realism and the one that made Ibsen’s play so ahead of its time? (3) a. realism refers to critiquing the norms and standards of a society b. realism refers to discussing the government’s role in art c. realism refers to creating peace during war d. realism refers to Freud’s id, ego, and superego
10. For W. E. B Dubois, Art (3) a. ought to be realistic b. should show love c. lead to freedom d. champion social justice
11. Choose one of the following poets, Dunbar, McKay, Toomer, Hughes all found in LPA and connect something they have written to Dubois idea of double conscious (For DuBois, double consciousness referred to the idea of having to hide one’s true self in order to reveal one’s true self. Dubois believed that the only way a Black writer could participate in America’s literary tradition was to keep his head tuned into two opposing cultures, one discriminating and one being discriminated against. (6)
12. Which author and work shows Barbara Smith’s notion of “intention” toward an elderly couple who are “Mostly Good” (Gardner 593)? We all know the kinds of people she is describing, who live simply, honestly, and do not mind working hard for what they have (I’m speaking about material possessions and spiritual peace of mind). (3) a. Gwendolyn Brook’s poem, “We Real Cool.” b. Allison Joseph’s poem, “On having been told I don’t speak like a Black Person.” c. Thylias Moss’s poem, “The Lynching.” d. Gwendolyn Brook’s poem, “The Bean Eaters.”
13. The computer technology that has turned into a media extravaganza, which has made much of the planet visually reachable, began as a result of: (3) a. World War I b. World War II c. The Korean War d. The Vietnam War
14. Experimental literature took many guises; gender roles were questioned, Freud and psychoanalysis influenced writers in their quest to explore the human psyche; subjectivity became the predominant feature in storytelling. The emphasis of art as emotional resonance in many genres of literature began in the ________ period along with the play of object and subject, space and time, circularity and linearity. Choose one response to fill in the blank. (3) a. antiquity b. middle ages c. baroque d. modern
15. Virginia Woolf understood that audiences loved the cinema because (3) a. of its ability to convey perspective and emotionality easily b. audiences wish to enter the dream landscape c. it gives people a chance to escape from their problems d. of its novelty
16. One of the ways psychoanalytic theory can be applied to literature has to do with the term “doubleness.” Doubleness has to do with a character that shows a different character’s qualities: one character might be vibrant and happy and successful, while another character would be sad, morose, and/or unsuccessful. Which two characters in Mrs. Dalloway best represent the feature this feature of doubleness: (3) a. Miss Kilman and Mrs. Dalloway b. Richard and Mr. Whittaker c. Clarissa and Sally d. Dr. Holmes and Septimus
17. What other feature of the mind is common to modern writers? (3) a. Portraying external space as architectural interfacing with internal, psychic resonances in the characters modern authors portray. b. Disclosing the vibrancy of spirituality c. Announcing the vibrancy of religion d. Showing the science of nature
18. A key concept of Freud’s psychoanalytic theory is the idea of displacement. Displacement is the idea that something other than the real concern or focus is under consideration. On a psychic level, one changes one’s focus so the real concern, issue, or problem doesn’t have to be considered. In “Hills like White Elephant,” Hemingway shows this defense mechanism in the story of (3) a. the young man in the story wishes to take woman he just met to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower. b. the young woman in the story wishes to speak to her partner about her real concern, she wants to settle down and start a family, perhaps stop traveling—change their lifestyle—while the young man doesn’t want to discuss any of it. c. the young man in the story wishes to take his girlfriend fishing with an old man. d. the young woman in the story wishes to save her “white knight” by waking him up during a nightly fire.
19. In Hills Like White Elephants, the beautiful view that the woman speaks of becomes a projection of (3) a. her wish to be more beautiful b. her fullness of feeling with her best girl-friend c. her child-like love of mother and father d. her lack of fulfillment in the intimate relationship she imagines with her man.
20. In “Heteroglossia in the Novel from Discourse in the Novel,” Bakhtin conceptualizes “Heteroglossia” (3) a. as the underlying reason that short stories are more valuable than novels. b. as the Russian equivalent of the American election for president. c. as the space in the novel where multiple voices occur with respect to genre, to intent, to discourse, and dialogic imagination. d. as the systematic account of excess that is contained in the thought process in the mind.
21. In the end of the selection of In Myths: Of Women in Five Authors, our theory reader presents, de Beauvoir points out the idea of the absent feminine and that in its own way it is “symptomatic” of greater societal problems (678). What might one interpret this statement? (3) a. “absent feminine” in our own day could refer to limitations that women see in themselves or the devaluing of particular traits deemed “feminine.” b. “absent feminine” in our own day could mean the acquiescence of masculine values to those of the feminine. c. “absent feminine” in our own day signifies the inversion of gender roles on a greater social landscape. d. “absent feminine” in our own day suggests that women deny all femininity at the expense of masculinity.
22. Write an intertextual response about Henrik Ibsen’s The Doll House OR Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway through ONE of the theorists we have studied so far this semester. You may choose Susan Sontag, Simone de Beauvoir, Mary Wollstonecraft, Germaine de Stael, Virginia Woolf, Freud, Plato, Aristotle, W.E.B. Dubois, Bakhtin, Barthes, Fault, de Saussure or another I have not listed her but found on our syllabus rendering of Week/Module One through Six. (10)