the midterm will be an essay exam covering one of the topics listed below the choice of topic will be yours

Topics for the Midterm:

  • Role of the individual in society (also: the individual in or vs. community)
  • What sort of society should we have (also: what is the best way to live?)
  • Family (also: the role of the family in society)
  • War

How to Prepare:

Selecting a Topic and Readings:

There are really two ways to do this. You can pick your topic first and find readings that you think will best fit it, or you can pick your readings first and look for the topics within them. If you choose the second method, I would suggest picking several readings that you think you can work well with and re-reading them closely, and then re-reading your discussion boards, focusing on the readings you have selected.

Regardless of what method you choose, I would suggest settling on a topic and 3-4 readings that you can discuss in some detail for the topic you select. Also feel free to think outside the box. For example, it may not seem obvious on first glance, but issues related to family, for example, are relevant to readings as diverse as those covering the Puritan poets, the Salem Witch Trials, Occom, Equiano, Crevecouer, and John and Abigail Adams.

Try to use readings that provide some diversity of viewpoint.

Get to Know the Readings and the Topic:

I would suggest making lots of topic-related notes on your selected readings.

Keep your focus on the actual readings, not on analysis that someone somewhere provided on the Internet.

Make an Outline:

You can know before you open up the Midterm what you’ll be writing on, so take advantage of the opportunity and create a detailed Thesis / Topic Sentence Outline.

  • What is the main point you want to make about how this topic is addressed in the readings you’ve selected? (This would be your thesis)
  • What is the main point you want to make about how each specific reading addresses the topic? (This would be the topic sentence for the paragraph on that specific reading – but it should also support the thesis, or main point of your essay)
  • What details do you want to include to support the point you’re making in your paragraph topic sentence? (This would be your evidence)
  • Put all this together in bullet points or a handwritten outline

The more work you put in before the Exam, the better your chance of doing well.

Five Paragraph Essay Might be the Simplest Format to Use:

It is perfectly fine to create a traditional 5-paragraph essay for the Exam. If you do this, I would suggest writing an Introductory paragraph addressing the topic and introducing your thesis, three body paragraphs – each focusing on a different reading and how the specific reading addresses the topic, and a concluding paragraph summing up the main points.