Have you ever wondered at the poetic wisdom of Shakespeare or the brilliance of Zadie Smith? Do you think the authors lining your bookshelf are in better mental shape to take your upcoming midterms? Or maybe you’re looking for deeper answers to the questions of your interdisciplinary studies than the ones from a textbook.
If you handed the exam to your favorite authors, here’s how they would respond:
Why is there something rather than nothing?
“It’s enough for me to be sure that you and I exist at this moment.”
― Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
What is the meaning of life?
What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world. The paragon of animals. And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?
-William Shakespeare, Hamlet
What is happiness, according to the views of three philosophers?
“No mockery in this world ever sounds to me so hollow as that of being told to cultivate happiness. What does such advice mean? Happiness is not a potato, to be planted in mould, and tilled with manure. Happiness is a glory shining far down upon us out of Heaven. She is a divine dew which the soul, on certain of its summer mornings, feels dropping upon it from the amaranth bloom and golden fruitage of Paradise.”
– Charlotte Bronte, Villette
Describe three events that caused WWI.
“All this happened, more or less.”
-Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five
Analyze the causes of the French Revolution.
“Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure”
-Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Name three people that made great contributions to science in the 20th century.
“What difference does it make after all?–anonymity in the world of men is better than fame in heaven, for what’s heaven? what’s earth? All in the mind.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Intro to Literature
What are some of the major themes in the books we read this semester?
“Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.”
-Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Explain why Shakespeare is widely regarded as the greatest dramatist of his time.
“The very stone one kicks with one’s boot will outlast Shakespeare.”
― Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse
Explain the importance of Renaissance art to the modern man.
“Art is the Western myth, with which we both console ourselves and make ourselves.”
― Zadie Smith, On Beauty
Name three infectious diseases and their symptoms.
“A bodily disease, which we look upon as whole and entire within itself, may, after all, be but a symptom of some ailment in the spiritual part.”
– Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
4xsin(y) – x2 = 1. Find dy/dx where y = 3.14/6
“The horror! The horror!”
― Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness