CLST 295 / WSGS 295:
Women in the Classical World
Fall Semester 2011
Dr. Jacqueline Long
Study Guide for Exam I
The exam will have three parts; there will be some measure of choice
within each part.
- cut-and-dried identifications: basic factual information
(small credit per item, and a small component of the exam)
- selections from the primary sources (ancient texts and objects) that we've examined:
identify context, and discuss briefly but concretely a couple of the trends
in our study-material that the the passage or object illustrates most prominently -- for the
discourse from which the item comes or for Classical societies and cultures
more generally (each primary-source essay earns a medium-small quantum
of credit, but they add up to a major component of the exam)
- essay: discuss an interpretive question, drawing for support of your
contentions on specific, concrete evidence from several primary sources,
explaining what the sources illustrate, and demonstrating how they support
your interpretation (the largest single item of credit; a major component
of the exam)
Things to study
Terms and items you might be asked to identify include:
Themes and overarching considerations to consider (both for passages
and for the essay; see also daily Study
- the evidence we have considered, who produced it, when, for what audience
- the cultural traditions (literary or otherwise) in which our study-materials
participate, and conventions of these traditions: choral lyric, didactic epic,
hymn, iambic, joke, kore (s.) / korai (pl.), lyric monody, partheneia, priamel
- major figures -both individuals (e.g., Gaia, Hagesichora) and social
categories (e.g., maiden, nurse)- in the evidence we've considered
- concepts and terminology of Classical scholarship especially relevant to our
material, e.g., aetiology, Archaic period, aretalogy, Bronze Age, charter-myth, city-state
(polis), citizenship, Classical period, colonization, cult, Dark Age, documentary
source, household (oikos), humanism, literary text, miasma, mystery-cult,
persona, positivism, primary source, secondary source, time (s.) / timai (pl.)
- concepts and terminology of social and cultural criticism
conventionally used in feminist inquiry, especially into the Classical
world, e.g., androcentrism, chastity, diversity, fertility, gender, parthenogenesis,
patriarchy, patrilocality, sex, natural/organic processes, bonds, values, etc., versus
think of specific passages that illustrate important points, so you
can back up your arguments with concrete evidence on the
test. Be sure you explain clearly how the passage helps
demonstrate your point. Helpful elements: What does it say? What does that mean?
Why does it mean that? How do you know?
reassurance: this list looks long because I'm
trying to think of as many possible dimensions of study in our material
as I can -- and succeeding! What I'm really trying to do is to remind
you of possibilities and to encourage you to open the doors of inquiry
wide to your own interests.
reflection: We are about about societal
and cultural understanding, not memorization of minutiae. It is convenient to be able to
identify major figures swiftly, by name, but it is far, far more important to be able
to recognize and understand (and demonstrate your knowledge and understanding by explaining
clearly) how details of our sources, the actions and relationships evoked in them,
and characteristic associated imagery, reflect concepts and values relating to women
and gender in the Classical world.
- categories of existence conventionally recognized in the Classical world, qualities
conventionally associated with individuals in each category, expectations for interactions
- groups by order of being, e.g., gods, humans, animals
- groups by gender, e.g., male, female
- groups by life-stage, e.g., child, maiden/youth, adult, old person
- groups by familial relationship, e.g., father, mother, daughter, son, widow, employee, slave
- groups by class and social power, e.g., rulers and ruled, slave and free, rich and poor
- groups by ancestry and occupation, e.g., royalty, nobility, warriors, traders,
- groups by location and relationship to location, e.g., native and foreign
- groups by civic participation, e.g., magistrate, citizen, resident alien, non-citizen
- groups by religious participation, e.g., chorus-member, initiate
- occupations typically of women, e.g., fabric-making, child-care, house-keeping
- how social and cultural conceptions are envisaged and experimented with in myth
- how social values are read onto and from women's roles so as to distinguish communities
- in what ways women are associated with the household
- in what ways women are associated with communities beyond the household
- in what ways women practice religion
- in what ways women are associated with life-giving
- in what ways women are associated with the end of life
- how social transitions are negotiated
- social honor and dishonor
- women's affections - to whom they are directed, under what circumstances, and how
representation presents them to wider audiences
- why and how women's sexuality is important
- ideals of feminine desirability
And yet more strategic advice
- Identifications come across especially clearly and convincingly
when you back them up by mentioning a specific point in one of our
sources that illustrates your point.
- Both passage-essays and topic-essays want to address the
question, "So what?" More formally, "What does it mean?" and "Why
does it matter?" Show how the source works to support your insights.
- Explain your reasoning clearly, logical step by logical step.
Take your reader with you, in order to persuade.
- With primary-source essays, you've got text right there in which
you can anchor your discussion very specifically. Take advantage
of this resource for concreteness and detail.
- Connect the dots: when you want to add a source to your
discussion, in support of your interpretations or for comparison,
show what makes it relevant - then when you explain what's going on in it,
it will also help support your central argument.
- The first level of a good demonstration has to be accurate information:
what do the sources actually say, or for material evidence, what do they look like?
- Don't waste space and energy transcribing all the information onto the exam, but from
your knowledge select the points that do the most to help you prove your points.
- Inaccuracy, such as saying a source says something other than it says, only causes confusion.
- Vagueness doesn't say anything.
- The second level of a good demonstration is clear explanation: how do logic and, potentially,
related information from other sources come together with the piece of evidence on which you're
focusing in order to yield understanding of what that piece of evidence means?
- Unless the source directly says what you're trying to prove -in which case you're back on
evidence, not into interpretation- there has to be some reason that takes you from what it says
to what it tells you about women and gender in the Classical world. Answer for your reader the
questions, "why?" and "how?"
- Building on discussions we've had in class and taking even further
the understanding we've established together of Classical society and culture
and the discourses of gender, makes exam papers truly exciting. Education
aims above all for you to develop your knowledge, skills, confidence, and
the interest to claim an inquiry for yourself. Go for it!
BACK to CLST 295 / WSGS 295 Schedule of
Readings and Assigments
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