Monday, June 22, 2009

These were my OU exam questions

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:

Question 1
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

Question 2
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.

Question 3
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


Carol said...

Blimey FF, your exam questions...I am so so impressed you came out of there with a smile on your face!! *takes hat off to you*

Sorry to hear that your feeling a bit poorly...hopefully those nasty germs will depart soon and you'll be back to your usual happy self :-)

Oooohh, the Shelly biography sounds interesting....I think I may have to add that to my 'to be read list' (Chris isn't letting me buy books till I have read the ones I have so I now have a 'to be read list')

C x

Jennysmith said...

Yes, FF, it certainly does but don't you long to lose yourself in something fictional? As a treat for all your hard work.

Mind you, i'm reading The Reader at the moment so its hardly beach reading. But afterwards I'm going for a Jackie Collins - awful isn't it. BUt the voices tell me to buy it and read it

do you think a paper will come up on that one? xxxxx

Jennysmith said...

Oh yeah, sorry , hope you feel better xxxx

Elizabeth said...

What a fabulous course.
There was a wonderful review of Edna O'Brien's biography of Byron in the NY Times book review on June 14th.
Said it was a good thing drugs weren't invented in time for him.....

well, they were- but not LSD etc etc....

There was a super novel about Mary Woolstonecraft (sp?)and Fuseli published in America some years ago.
Sounds hokey but was stunning.
Will research and get back to you.
So glad you are enjoying :The Pursuit

So hard to unwind after stressful scholarship.
Dog walking?

Nora Johnson said...

Wow! I feel shattered simply READING those exam questions!
Is your AS Byatt book The Children's Book? If so, I'd be interested in your opinion (when it arrives & you've had a chance to read it!) I'm currently reading Sarah Waters's The Little Stranger and (for pure fun) any criminal/suspense thriller I can lay my hands on...!
Hope you're feeling better,
Take care
PS Your gorgeous Misty & Poppy might like a peek at some photos on my current page!

Veggie Carrie said...

I couldn't begin to answer those questions. Try not to agonise over them though, what's done is done. I'm sure you've done really well.

Incidentally I live very, very close to Mary Godwin's former house!

Lulu LaBonne said...

It must be a relief that you've done it though.

That Shelley biog sounds good I'll have to get a copy.

(I'm busy ploughing through John Julius Norwich's books on Byzantium first though)

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3 said...

I am going to read some Byron when I've waded through the pile of books I have. I don't know too much about him. Hope you feel well soon - sending healing thoughts!!

Steve said...

OMG. I can't think of anything worse than having access to the exam paper after the exam has been sat. What awful torture! Once the exam is over that's it for me - it's gone, over, finished with, baby. I never want to see it again. Or my answers. I just want my grade! (Still waiting...)

Elizabeth said...

Vindication by Frances Sherwood (novel)
Vindication by someone else (biog.)
both excellent.

Maternal Tales said...

Crikey FF - I couldn't even make it to the end of the exam paper!! Hats off to you for surviving. I still have nightmares about being stuck in a maths degree exam having successfully forgotten to tell anyone that I don't even know my times table. I always wake up in a cold sweat! Glad you're back x

Clarity said...

"summarise the poet-narrator’s description of his state of mind."

Byron may have raised an eyebrow at that.

Charming blog.

I visited Brittany on a school trip and always wanted to go back - there was a place (name forgotten) that had an avenue or line of pottery shops in blue and white (the pottery!) and a few old bookstores. That's where I would return to and just melt into the aromatic old books...

Rob-bear said...

Wow! Tough exam questions.

But I can tell from the questions, and your backgounding of them, that this must have been a truly amazing course.

Hope your marks are great.

LadyFi said...

Fascinating insight into the lives of these literati!

As for those exam questions...

Frankofile said...

My former English teacher, Audrey Robinson, wrote 'Shelley: his links with Horsham and Warnham'. Not read it, to my shame - I always imagined teenage Shelley (like teenage me) was only too keen to shake country-town dust off his feet!

French Fancy said...

Carol - I don't have big book piles anymore I used to but I have finally read them all. All that is now waiting is a book of letters between Byron and his publisher and the Byatt that is en route. thank you for doffing your hat -

Jen - without sounding too precious I just can't read most fiction these days. Not the stuff known as 'popular' anyway. It makes me cross.

Elizabeth - the thing is that (as you said) drugs were around in Byron's time - laudanum and opium, although alcohol was meant to be his thing. However, he was a very good friend of Ali Pasha and there were lots of exotic drugs around that particular culture and that particular time.

One of the OU tutors read the O Brien and didn't recommend it. It's the sort of book I would check out of a library but we don't have those sort of libraries where I live - not for English books anyway (and I'm not reading that sort of book in French -lol)

Nora - yes, it is The Children's Book. I loved Possession and I think I will like this too - athough some of the reviews have said she has written a factual book more than fiction - but that suits me very well

Carrie - is there a blue plaque outside her house? I mean Frankenstein is a classic so she does deserve that at least

Lulu - the Byron bio I read recently is better than the Shelley. It's the one by Fiona MacCarthy and is just brilliant. The Shelley one is interesting about his life but MacCarthy writes in a better way

Reasons - read the Byron bio that I've just mentioned above - it is a first class book. I'm just about to start letters from Byron's publisher to him. Hoping it will fill the gaps in my Byron knowledge

STeve - still not heard? Blimey! Fingers crossed

Elizabeth - off to Book Depository now

Maternal Tales - now a maths exam would make me cry. I've got no ability with that side of the brain (although I am very quick with mental arithmetic)

Clarity - hello. We've not 'met' before. I wonder if it was Quimper you went to - which is my favourite place in Brittany and where the blue and white faience is produced.

Rob - aw thank you so much. I loved this course and it has given me love of Byron if nothing else.

Fi - they were much more straight forward than those on previous papers - I think they had received complaints about previously worded questions being too obscure.

Frankie - Shelley was such a one-off. Didn't believe in marriage or religion and spouted against them both at any opportunity. Nowadays he would be one of many but he was very much alone back then. Fascinating and difficult man

A Super Dilettante said...

Thank you FF! You just give me an idea about my future talk. The subject on Sublime. Although I'm not so sure how much the audience can take in on Burke's essay on Sublime or Longinus's treatise. But we have a few paintings I could use as an example consist of dramatic Scottish landscapes and painters of great big stags...nothing in comparison to Turner, one of the few artists who went to extreme to experience sublime, to achieve his artistic ends by strapping himself on the ship mast in the storm.

Don't worry about not being able to concentrate on ficition. You can get like that in post-exam period. You will get back into it. A S Byatt's new novel is a literary has to digest it slowly.

Ann said...

FF, you are having an after reaction, hence the cold, virusy type things, we take so much out of our body, and it needs to replenish itself, one day you will wake up again and be you, takes a wee while.

The brain is starting up again, as soon as I read the questions, it set in motion, I told it to behave, as the exams were over, amazing how much I learned.

Just relax, read, save some spicy chicken for me, and all will be well in your world.

Anonymous said...

I actually really like those exam questions. They are very well considered and if I actually had studied the material I would have found them an interesting challenge.
Otherwise, it is so nice to see you again and read your words. As for fiction, I have found that I have read diminishing amounts as the years have gone by.

cheshire wife said...

Hope that you will soon be feeling better. I think that the hippy lifestyle thing goes round in circles as marriage goes in and out of fashion.

(Very) Lost in France said...

FF - I got last after the bit that says 'Write your name'. I take my hat off to you. Well done. VLiF

Deb said...

Hi ~ I have missed you!First I was on a blogging break and then you were studying so maybe now you can come out to play ? I truly respect how hard you have worked. Thise questions scared me. A champagne toast to you! Celebrate.

Blu said...

You brainy girl, I couldnt understand the questions tee hee.

Great that you are reading about these interesting people, and spreading the news about them to us plebs.

Best wishes Blu x

French Fancy said...

ASD - I bet you'd make even the Sublime sound interesting. In retrospect I don't think I did a great job of linking the three examples I chose for the third question. Now my brain has relaxed a bit I can see how I could have taken a much better and bolder approach - oh well, too late now.

Looking forward to the Byatt; only got 100 pages left of the Shelley bio (I'm a slow reader of good works)

Ann - actually I feel much better today and a wee bit bored. Today I wouldn't have minded going to work - although jobs for expats are very scarce here. there is a salmon factory that want packers and do you know that for a mad moment this morning I thought about applying - anything rather than set to with the weeding. But then they'd make me wear a white hygiene hat probably and all my curls would get squashed and I'd look a bit silly. Plus I would stink of fish - but I bet I'd learn great colloquial French.

Mr WO - you are totally correct - those questions are straightforward and much better than some of those featured on older exam papers.

cheshire wife - Shelley was totally against the concept of marriage or fidelity within relationships. A bit like Lord Bath and his wifelets really

VLIF - do you know I got in a muddle with the cover paper I had to fill in. I left it until the end of the exam and then when the invigilator told me to write the paper number on the cover sheet I looked at her like she was talking Arabic or something. What she was saying made no sense - paper? number? paper has a number? - she meant the course number

Deb - aw, it's lovely to be missed. Yes, I will come back to play

Blu - these people had such fascinating lives. I'm going to need to buy another bookshelf soon for our library because I just want to buy bio after bio,

Anonymous said...

Congrats on getting through the exam [are you done now?] I quite liked most of the questions...they have a similar theme to my lit exam...Frankenstien was the book I chose to answer questions on...and Pride and really.

I graduated in 02 and still cannot bring myself to throw out all the six years of text books and tapes...pathetic really, the scroll does not seem enough somehow.

Good to have you back.
Oh, and it was many months before I accepted that it was ok to read for fun again.

Anonymous said...

You are a braver woman than I.

Congrats on aceing the exam!

Mama said...

Hey there FF, I think it was post exam/study blues you had there, hope you are feeling much better now. I think I would take the weeding over salmon packing though :-), I once had a job in a hospital kitchen (I might have told you this before) I was dishing up dinners for the elderly patients, but was told off (scolded hehe) by the head chef for giving them way to much food oops. I am going to read Byron asap as you have sparked my interest especially those letters to/from his family and publisher, he did sound an all round good guy.
Tks for your sweet comments on my photos it was something I dabbled in before the kids then forgot about, but those Agapanthus pics were taken after a couple large glasses of Pinot!.
Those questions would have freaked me but you know your stuff girl and I am looking forward to your results, happy Wednesday. My sister only has a few more days here so we will be making the most of them, oh and she is gonna start a blog so I told her to check out your site as I think she will really love it too, speak soon, Kathyx

Anonymous said...

Those questions look pretty intimidating to me! Well done - is this the last course for your degree?

Lenin has been doing something about Shelley at school and has taken a strong dislike to him. Didn't Mary Shelley's proto-feminist mother disown her as a result of the relationship?

claire p said...

I'd forgotton how terrifying the exam questions were! Well done you for getting though it.

Yes the Shelly, Byron thing is facinating. There really is nothing new is there?

Lane said...

Woa, I haven't seen questions like that for years and even then...

Finger's crossed for your results. I bet they're going to be great.

Hope you're feeling better now too.

French Fancy said...

Moannie - I have three courses left for the BA and then will move on to an MA in Literature. I've done the course you mentioned (A210) but didn't pick Frankenstein - I chose Turgenev's Father and Sons. It was a great course though.

I hope your diploma is framed and in a prominent place.

Dedene - well 'aceing' might be an exaggeration. Let's hope I get a good mark though

Kath, I cannot recommend the Fiona MacCarthy bio of Byron strongly enough. She had access to info that was found about 15 years ago - Byron's friend Scrope Davies had left his trunk at Barclays Bank for safekeeping, prior to fleeing London due to debt. The trunk just remained hidden away in the basement and MacCarthy is the only one to have had access to it. There was much new Byron info discovered from this trunk. Scrope Davies was a good friend and close confidante of Lord B.

Lovely your sister is with you and I look forward to getting to know her through her new blog

CA - the questions are much better than in previous years. Re Mary Shelley's ma - it was actually her father, William Godwin, who disliked Shelley, despite the fact that Godwin sponged off Shelley for much of his life. I think Mary Woolstonecraft was dead by the time Mary and Percy got together

Claire - It is very easy to get obsessed with the lives of these Romantic poets. They were urbane, intelligent, talented, romantic and fascinating.

Lane - hello there you. I'm feeling much better today ta

A Woman Of No Importance said...

FF: Congrats on getting so well through such a complicated paper - I know you will do tremendously well!

What's that about Shelley having put Mary Shelley on to Frankenstein - That wasn't the chain of thought when I was at Uni... Are the profs back to believing that women couldn't possibly have been bright enough to write a great piece of literature back then?

Mary came from exceptional literary and intellectual stock - I've a hankering for believing that she had a novel in her, as we all (probagly) do...

Great and good luck, Madame FF - Bonne chance! x

Anonymous said...

Hooray! Finally, I'm in!

In case anyone else tells you that they can't get into your blog, the answer is to clean out all the temporary files.

Your exam paper made my eyes water.

Glad it was you taking it and not me,


The wife of bold said...

Oh my this is making my brain hurt just looking at it and i studied English lit at uni - i love byron though my favorite poenm ever is "they say that hope is happiness" - brilliant. Shelly takes me back to my A levels too x

the fly in the web said...

Goodness, how your OU info has made me water at the mouth.

I would love to study again, but I know I cannot give it..or rather me..the time.

My dream has been to write a thesis on class and society in the 1930s to 1950s as seen through the novels of Angela Thirkell...a master work of smallminded snobbery..
BUT my degree was not in literature, it's a long time since I had contact with academe and, I have too many commitments.

Damn and blast.

Anyway, your determination and enjoyment of your OU course really picked me up.

Thank you!

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Oh those OU exam questions! I think I'd rather have my piles clipped than revise for and take those exams again! I'm thinking of swapping courses from the Psychology to a literary degree. There are too many nutters doing psychology as they look for answers to their own problems.

I left you an answer on my blog re my HRT Babe blog. Perhaps you may want to read that and we can chat via email re HRT. I have a lot of stuff to say on that or at least some advice on what works and what doesn't but we are each all unique. I hope the HRT is working for you - I still get bad mood swings if I don't take care of my diet othewise it can be fine. All the best, I'll keep up with your blog as I've seen you around and always meant to visit you.

Phil Lowe said...

I envy your focus on intellectual things and yes real life (present or historical) can be a lot more interesting or wierd than that of fiction. I have done a couple more posts and am trying to be more disiplined about concentrating on my blog. I keep spending a lot of time with my photography and my photographer friend, Stephen. Whole weeks can just vanish.

French Fancy said...

AWONI - it's good to see you come out of your blog persona - I reckon Mary did indeed write Frankenstein but her preface to the 1818 edition does imply that she had some ideas suggested to her. This next sentence is from Wiki

*On 1 October 2008, the Bodleian published a new edition of Frankenstein which contains comparisons of Mary Shelley's original text with Percy Shelley's additions and interventions alongside.*

So I think Percy must have had a bit of input.

NWBD - hoorah - you can gain entrance again - hoorah

Hello there wife of bold - I must come and find out more about someone with such an intiguing name. Re Byron poems - I love Don Juan - long and fantastic

Hello fly in the web - what I just said to wife of bold applies to you as well - great name! As for studying, it is very addictive - I do not want to stop

hello mob - I must come and find out what you put

Hiya Phil - discipline and concentration - words that used to make me shudder , now they seem to be much more friendly

Ann said...

Waves, helllooo hen, missed you.

No somehow I could not see you working in a salmon factory, or any factory, mainly of course because it would squash your curls, and that would be a terrible thing to do, I would love to try and get my hair under a white hygiene hat as well ha!.

Your life will come back, bit lost just now maybe!!.

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

great course.....great books...glad you got it

now the wait..

Mark said...

Hello popped over here from 'over in Thailand'.

I find reading comes in waves - almost everything I've read recently is dark and depressing; othertimes I read only non-fiction or perhaps children's books Generally I like introspective writing whether fiction or not. And sometimes I like to return to old favourites - Orwell's essays is always by my desk - a kind of writers comfort food.

Amyhow, enough. Thanks for great blog.