Final Exam!

Final Ехам: final-engl-371

“This earth that we live on is full of stories in the same way that, for a fish, the ocean is full of ocean. Some people say when we are born we’re born into stories. I say we’re also born from stories.” -Ben Okri

To me, the power of Magic Realism is in its ability to reveal the many facets of life that we tend to shove away because they are too difficult to visualize or talk about. It’s kind of like the way you shove away a weird dream when you wake up and get to “real” life – and yet you feel that dream influencing you the entire day. These invisible facets of life can be amazing, mysterious, or terrible, but they are as “real” as a cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee – and a darn sight more real than “Fantasy Harbour.” By visualizing and recognizing them we can live more knowingly in the world, and influence our own stories more powerfully.

We have seen how Kafka concretizes the soul crushing effects of bureaucracy, how Cortazar immerses us in an unstable world of fluid identity, and how Marquez conjures a land where every idea comes to life. We’ve traveled with Borges to the edge of the universe to ponder the raw puzzles of existence, and we’ve found these same puzzles reimagined in a weirdly familiar modern Japan. We’ve looked into Iran and Nigeria to see how terrifyingly distorting extreme political and social forces can be, and gained glimpses of how to resist them. To me, literature does what a thousand documentaries cannot – it brings the far way close, the outside inside, and the foreign familiar. The minute we identify with a character we’ve made the leap – the magic of fiction.

Magic Realism helps to visualize the invisible forces, webs, and threads that run through life – we feel them influence us, and although we cannot see them, in fiction they can walk through the house like a tiger, or float us into the sky with the laundry.

For the final writing I want you to consider invisible threads and forces in the works of the last three authors in the course:

Shahrnush Parsipur – Women without Men

Haruki Murakami – The Elephant Vanishes

Ben Okri – Stars of the New Curfew

These invisible threads and forces can take many forms, including:

Connections between people and each other

Connections between people and nature

Connections between people and objects

Connections between people and their own subconscious selves

Connections between people and texts

Connections between people and other times, places, knowledges

Connections between people and power structures

Connections between people and war/ political events

Connections between people and Simulacra


Directions: In  short, coherent short essays, discuss how Parsipur, Murakami, or Okri make an invisible force, thread, or connection visible in their works. Have fun, talk to each other about this, be creative.

3 separate essays (each can address a different “thread”)

-Each should be a short logical whole, 1 ½ to 2 pages.

-Illustrate points with examples from the texts and at least one quote per essay.

-Works Cited is not necessary

-You may use “I.” Do proofread and write clearly.

Grading Rubric:

Follows Directions, Completes Assignment: 50

Writing is Clear and Coherent (i.e. I can understand what you are talking about): 40

Neat, grammatical, Proofread: 10

Due Dates:

Final Draft of Paper – December 15

Final Exam Essays – December 15


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