Monday, May 03, 2010

HUM 221: final exam (w/ working link to Luci Tapahonso poem)

Humanities 221: Native American Cultures
Benedictine University at Springfield
Instructor: Pete Ellertsen

Final Exam, Spring Semester 2010

Below are one 50-point essay question and two 25-point short essay questions. To earn maximum credit, please write three to four pages (750 to 1,000 words) on the 50-point essay and at least a full page (250 words) on each of the 25-point essays. This means you will write answers to all three questions below. Use plenty of detail from your reading in the assigned books, 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. Due at the regularly scheduled time for our final, at 10:30 a.m., Monday, May 10, in Dawson 220.

1 (50 points). In scene notes to his movie “Smoke Signals,” Sherman Alexie says “Cast Indians as Indians, because you’ll get better performances.” And reviewer Gene Siskal of The Chicago Sun-Times said the movie “is not, in any way, a standard film involving Native Americans. [Victor and Thomas] are very specific characters, but not every utterance and every event in the film revolves around their Indian heritage. The result is to expand our notion of just who Native Americans are and can be.” But Gerald Peary, writing in The Boston Phoenix, said the movie has universal themes of “anguish, pain, anger, forgiveness, release.” How much, in your opinion, does “Smoke Signals” transcend the boundaries of its Native American cultural milieu? To what degree does it qualify as a specifically Native American cultural expression? To what degree does it reflect universal feelings and values shared by people in many cultures? How do you relate to it in light of your own cultural background? Cite specific examples to support your points.

2A (25 points). What have you learned in HUM 221 that surprised you? What was your overall impression of Native American culture before you took the course? Has that impression changed as a result of your reading, class discussion and research for the course? What specific thing (or things) surprised you the most? Why? What do you think was the most important point made in the course. As always, cite specific evidence - in this case, while discussing what you learned in the course. Your grade on the essay will depend on the specific evidence you cite. So be specific.

2B (25 points). On a separate sheet you will be given a copy of the poem “A Whispered Chant of Loneliness” by Luci Tapahonso Write a reader response essay in which you tell: (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 are grounded in Tapanonso’s Dineh (Navajo) culture but still convey meaning across cultural boundaries. What specific passages are grounded in American popular culture? Do they also convey meaning across cultural boundaries? Be specific. Always be specific.

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