MID-TERM STUDY GUIDE   —    Spring 2011

I.   Be prepared to write two essays – longer than 4 paragraphs each —  from the list below (A, B, C) – addressing two of the three assigned texts (choosing one topic from the two choices for each text).  Notes will not be used in class!

A.   From Civil Disobedience

  1. What are the main issues that caused Thoreau to be so upset with government and with the Constitution?   How did his philosophy affect others?   What might Thoreau think about the role of government in today’s society?  How would you connect the philosophy of Thoreau with the philosophy of Ossie Davis?


  1. How tenable is Thoreau’s case for Civil Disobedience?   Is he arguing that we should break the law whenever we think it unjust?   What safeguards against such arbitrary and individualistic politics does he assert or imply?   Is there such a thing as absolute goodness?  Would you describe Thoreau as optimistic or pessimistic about people’s ability to improve the world?   Explain.   How would you connect the philosophy of Thoreau with the philosophy of Ossie Davis?

B.   From Life Lit By Some Large Vision

1.   Why does Davis feel that “the English Language is my enemy”?  What does he mean when he suggests that “the English language must become democratic?”   Does he view the theatre as a response to his concerns about language?  Did his experience with blacklisting affect him?


2.   How was Davis’ life molded by his mentors?  Who were the mentors of Davis at Howard University?   Who are the heroes of the “World of Hunger and Me” speech?


C.   From African American Music – Spirituals:

  1. What is nommo and how does it relate to the Spiritual?  How does it relate to the Griot?   How has the Spiritual been used to give artistic expression to protest in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries?   Give specific examples.


  1. Analyze the verbal content of eight Spirituals, with a focus upon how the themes and messages of the songs reflect the influence of the Bible and the African experience in the United States.


II.   ESSAY:   (This essay should have been prepared at home.   Hand it in with the completed mid-term)

Identify FOUR of the Manifestos that have made an impact upon you (other than your own).   What impact did they make, and why?   How do the four presentations relate to any of the theories of protest and aesthetics and other issues presented in class readings (e.g. Davis; Thoreau; hooks; Caldwell)?


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