Thursday, February 18, 2010

HUM 221: Midterm, study questions

Midterm • Humanities 221 • Spring 2010

Below are three essay questions – one worth fifty (50) points out of a hundred, and two shorter essays worth 25 points each. Please write at least two to four pages (500-1,000 words) on the 50-point essay and one to two pages (250-500 words) on each of the 25-point short essays. Use plenty of detail from your reading in the textbook, the internet and handouts I have given you, as well as class discussion, to back up the points you make. Your grade will depend both on your analysis of the broad trends I ask about, and on the specific detail you cite in support of your analysis. To be written in class Monday, Feb. 22.

1. Main essay (50 points). “All cultures,” according to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, “have developed over time their own myths, consisting of narratives of their history, their religions, and their heroes.” Myths also embody the values of a culture. One favorite American myth is the story of the “first Thanksgiving,” in which the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians shared a harvest feast in 1621. What values of American culture are reflected in the Thanksgiving myth and holiday? How do those values compare to the values of Native American cultures we have studied (e.g. Dakota, Alaska Native)? How are they the same? How are they different? What were the Pilgrim's values expressed in historical fact in 1621, in the legend as we tell it today? What were/are the Wampanoag people's values regarding Thanksgiving? What purpose does the myth serve in helping us sort out our values now as 21st century Americans? Be specific.

2A. Reflective essay (25 points). What have you learned about Native American cultures in this class so far that you didn’t know before? Consider what you knew at the beginning of the course and what you know now. What point or points stand out most clearly to you? What points are still confusing? What has surprised you the most – i.e. what have you learned that was really unexpected? In grading the essay, I will evaluate the relevance of your discussion to the main goals and objectives of the course; the detail you cite to support or illustrate your points; and the connections you make. So be specific! Always be specific.

2B. Short essay (25 points). On a separate sheet you will be given a copy of “Eagle Poem” by Creek/Muscogee author Joy Harjo. Text available on line at ... Harjo's video is at Write a reader response in which you discuss: (1) your response to and interpretation of the poem; (2) what in your cultural background, taste, attitudes, etc., makes you feel that way about it; and (3) what specific passages in the poem seem to be grounded in Harjo’s understanding of Native American traditions but still convey meaning across cultural boundaries. What seems to you to reflect Native attitudes and traditions, and what is more universal? Be specific. At the risk of repeating myself, aways be specific.

Instructor: Pete Ellertsen, 211 Beata Hall

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