You are Fatima, a middle-aged, middle-class woman in El Nahra, Iraq in 1954. You have met an American woman for the first time in your life, and have come to know her pretty well. But you just cannot understand how she can be happy living according to the American customs she has described to you. Construct Fatimaâ€™s argument for why the customs of Iraq, especially as they relate to gender roles and gender relationships, are vastly superior to those of the United States.
2.Although veiling and the seclusion of women are presently associated in Westerm minds with Islam, these phenomena were present in the Middle East centuries (probably millennia) before Islam gave them new meaning. Explain some of the NONRELIGIOUS reasons that veiling and seclusion of women could develop in the area. Why did veiling and seclusion NOT develop among the (precontact) Kung? NOTE: climate is not an issue (it gets to be l20 degrees in El Nahra in the summer); property and subsistence are.
3.Explain the Brahmin problem in general terms. How does the Brahmin problem operate in El Nahra? Why is it particularly severe during the time described in Guests of the Sheik? There are at least two reasons.
As the next exam appears on the horizon, I thought I would contribute a little more insight into how to write an essay exam. Although most people in both classes dis very well, some did not. From reading the exams with problems, I am not certain whether their authors just blew off the exam, or whether they simply had no experience with take-home exams.
The point of a take-home exam is twofold. First, it reduces freakout caused by time pressure. Second, it allows students to consider more interesting and significant questions and their implications, and to produce more complicated and complex responses. Thus, students are far more likely to understand the material than they would if they simply had to fill in bubbles on a multiple choice exam. I loathe multiple choice exams, and I never give them. But many people do, primarily because they are much easier and faster to grade, so many students get used to them.
The goals of take-home exams are completeness and complexity, NOT brevity. I want detail. I want students to explain and explore ways in which phenomena are related. I want them to explore alternate interpretations of events, institutions, and behaviors. From time to time a student will tell me that s/he doesnâ€™t have time to write an essay exam. And more frequently I hear from a student that s/he â€œdoesnâ€™t learn that way,â€ or simply that s/he is not â€œused toâ€ essay exams. If someone does not have time to write essays, that person should not be enrolled in university classes. I think the popularization of â€œalternate ways of learningâ€ has done a terrible disservice to students. While there is certainly legitimacy to the position that different styles of learning exist, that does not provide a free pass to people who want a university education in the contemporary United States. When it comes to writing, everyone can learn to write reasonably well, and thatâ€™s enough for any class I teach.
So for the next exam, make sure you answer each part of each question carefully and completely, with plenty of concrete, specific detail to illustrate and support the points you make. After youâ€™ve written an answer, go back to the question and reread it. Then reread your answer and make sure you havenâ€™t left any part unanswered. The goal is completeness, not thrift, though there ought to be a high proportion of content to words. Donâ€™t restate the questions, but do number them. And make sure you cite your sources.
By the way: the “Brahmin problem” refers to the problem of toop many unmarried high status women. It was first described by British ciuviul servants in India, where they noticed that although the highest caste men could marry slightl;y lower status women, the highest caste women could not marry below their own subcaste. Since some of the men of their own subcaste had married slightly lowwr subcaste women, that left a number of high caste (Brahmin) women unmarried. People in El Nahra are not HIndu, obviously, but the same basic problem exists there.
And one more thing: When you answer the question that begins “You are Fatima….” it does not refer to the character in Guests of the Sheiok who is named Fatima. The name was just chosen because it is a very common Iraqui women’s name.