Oral Examinations


ENG 343: The American Novel

Oral Examinations
Dec. 9-13, 2002


To take your oral examination for this course, please come to my office (Dial 118) at the appointed time, as indicated by the schedule below.  You may come to the ETL Library no more than an hour in advance and pick up a copy of the questions I will ask you.  During this hour, you may prepare for the exam by jotting down notes.  You also may use any print source, including your text book and your notes.  You may not consult with another person.  Please bring a blank cassette to your exam.


Monday, December 9

10:30 a.m.:

10:50: Jerry Hinson

11:10: Claire Secrist



Tuesday, December 10

10:30 a.m.: Lance Floyd

10:50: Amy Robinson

11:10: Erin Murner

11:30: Cresta Strickland

11:50: Nicole Kinlaw


Wednesday, December 11

10:30 a.m.: Jemn Hershberger

10:50: Jennifer Hicks

11:10: Shakima Ellis

11:30: Michael Hemminger

11:50: Eddie Rochester

Updated December 8, 2002
Mark Canada, 2002


During this week, each of you will meet with me for 20 minutes to take your final oral examination.  A schedule of the presentations appears at the left.


I hope that you will think of the oral examination as an opportunity for you to shine—that is, to show off all that you have learned about the American novel.  Here are some details of the exam, along with some tips for preparing:

The exam will have two parts: identifications and extended discussion.  In the first of these parts, you will be given five terms, names, or dates, and you will have to identify three of these items.  Specifically, you will need to answer basic questions such as what the term means or when the person lived, as well as questions about the item’s significance.  In the second part, you will be given three questions that call on you to discuss connections among at least three works we have read in this course.  You will be allowed to choose which two questions you prefer to answer.  You will have 20 minutes to respond to both parts of the exam.  I may nudge you from time to time or ask follow-up questions, but you should plan to do most of the talking.

A few strategies can help you do your best on this exam.  First, use the next week or two to review what we have covered and what you have learned in this course.  I suggest that you begin with the weekly lessons.  Check to see that you have met the objectives listed on these lessons.  Use the “Think Fast” and “Think Again” questions, as well as the prompts for collaborative learning, to quiz yourself.  Review the notes you have made in your notebooks and textbooks.  Make up your own exam and have a partner listen to you as you respond to it.  You may want to consider the following questions, which I have copied or adapted from the review session we had in class on Monday, November 25:

       How does form help move socially conscious novels along?

       Several of the novels have characters who are in search of independence.  Discuss this issue.

       Most protagonists are sympathetic, but not all are.  Identify and discuss unsympathetic protagonists.

       Discuss the role of religion or spirituality in at least three novels.

       Discuss the character conditions in at least three novels.  Do the “good characters” tend to die more often than other characters?  Why or why not?

Also, make sure that you can discuss the history and structure of the novel in detail and that you can comment insightfully on how formal elements help to shape meaning.

When the day of your exam arrives, show up in the ETL Library an hour before your scheduled time and pick up an exam.  Read the material on this exam very carefully and think about it briefly.  Jot down any ideas that come immediately to mind.  Next, use your notes and textbook to gather examples that you can use to support your points.  Jot these examples down on your exam sheet.

When you meet with me, you may use the notes that you have made on your exam sheet.  Strive to be both thorough and concise.  That is, provide as many details and examples as you can in a short time and avoid talking in generalities.  In the case of the identifications, try to answer the standard reporter’s questions—Who?  What?  When?  Where?  Why?  How?—in a sentence or two and then explain the item’s significance in another sentence or two.  When answering the questions in the extended-discussion section, make your claim clear right away and use the remaining time to illustrate your point with specific textual evidence.


I have enjoyed working with you this semester, and I wish you the best in your future endeavors.