A week or so after each OU exam they reproduce the examination paper on the course website for the students to agonise retrospectively about the questions and to discuss in depth on the various forums what they did wrong.
These were the questions I elected to answer:
Write a critical analysis of the following passage from Byron’s Childe Harold’s
Pilgrimage Canto III. The analysis should:
• locate the passage within the context of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage Canto III as a whole;
• identify the distinctive features of Byron’s poetic language;
• summarise the poet-narrator’s description of his state of mind.
The stanzas that were selected for the exam were III to VII inc. - too wordy to reproduce, but if you are interested you can go and see them here
To what extent should we see Sir John Soane’s architectural ideas and practice as a blend of Enlightenment and Romantic values? Discuss with detailed reference to specific buildings and/or written texts.
Did the notion of the sublime change in the period covered by the course?
(you had to select three 'texts' to use for this third question and I chose Edmund Burke, Turner's painting 'Snow Storm: Hannibal and his army crossing the Alps, The Brighton Pavilion. The word 'texts' is a bit of a misnomer really; you just had to know inside out three out of about 15 subjects that had been covered in the course)
I've still not really caught up on the things I thought I would do after I'd finished studying. A cold and cough has been hovering; you know what it's like - you feel a bit peaky one morning, fine the next and then peaky again. I just wish it would either appear or vanish.
I'm finding it almost impossible to read fiction these days (despite awaiting the latest A S Byatt book - yes, ASD I did order it) and am still immersed in the Shelley biography as recommended by Elizabeth in New York. I never knew Percy Shelley was such a revolutionary until reading this book. He lived with Mary Godwin* who was the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft and also in the household was her half-sister Clare Clairmont (who had a child by Byron). They were frowned on by the establishment due to their unorthodox lifestyle (yes, it was a menage a trois) and Shelley's revolutionary poetry and rabble-rousing articles and they chose to become expats - as did Lord Byron.
We tend to think that it was only in the recent decades that hippy values prevailed but there have been so many iconic figures from the past that chose to live in alternative ways and take substances that would alter their perception of things. That is why I hardly ever read fiction these days - the lives of these literati make much more interesting reading.
* She is of course known as Mary Shelly, the writer of Frankenstein (although large parts of it were actually conceived and written by Shelley