Saturday, September 6, 2014

An Exam Question: You Have Twenty Minutes to Answer

In the English Department at Texas State University, freshmen are challenged with this essay question:

"1. Roger Boylan called his second novel 'The Great Pint-Pulling Olympiad: A Mostly Irish Farce.' Consider that subtitle. One presumes that it held some significance for him; few contemporary novelists, after all, use subtitles. Write an essay about how this novel is 'A Mostly Irish Farce.' In what senses is it 'mostly Irish'? Don’t waste your time with such obvious things as noting the simple presence of scenes in, and characters from, other countries. Ask yourself why these these things are there, about how seemingly fully Irish elements may be “mostly Irish,” about the significance of Boylan’s Irish-American background, and so on. Make sure that you understand precisely what a farce is. Ask yourself exactly how this book is a farce, whether other works we have read this semester are farces, whether there is a significant relationship between farce and Irish comic writing (or “mostly Irish” comic writing), and so on."

An excellent question. Not sure I could answer it. What about you, Olympiad readers? In 1,000 words or less?

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