Old Sock Drawer

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#059: The Slackers’ Guide to the Arts One Final

June 6th, 2009 by Mary Leong

Currently listening to: “Don’t Stop Believing’ (Glee version)” – Glee Cast

I’m afraid I’ve been dreadful at keeping up with this blog over the past two months – April, through all the end-of-semester madness, and finals, and then May, when I was traipsing across Canada, mea culpa. I’ll try my best to get back into the loop. So, lots of recap for now…


Finals came and went. I finished Arts One!!!! Yeehaaaaa!! Such a crazy course – so amazing, but so incredibly crazy at the same time! There was a point of time where I gazed around at the spread of 20 books around me, and went, “How on earth am I going to study for this final?!?!?” 20 books, so little time, so many quotes to memorize! For future Arts One students, here’s the Year-long Slacker’s Guide to the Arts One Final. I got through it, you will too :)

In the final, you will find 10-ish quotes (it varies from year to year). Yes, quotes, from any of the 20 – 22 books you will have presumably read throughout the year. You will be asked to identify the book the quotes are from, the author of the book, and you’ll have to write something meaningful about it. Seriously? Consider the fact that the exam is worth 20% of your year’s mark and the quotes are worth 20% of that. That’s 4% of the whole year. Your essays are worth the rest. DO YOUR ESSAYS FIRST. Don’t stress about the quotes.

How about the essays? Well, firstly, you have to write two. They can be about anything and everything, and tend to be some sort of all-encompassing broad idea. You’ve got 20-ish books or so. Gather some fellow Arts One students and make a giant spreadsheet of each theme, e.g. liberty, progress, colonialization. Then, analyze each book and note down where they lie in relation to other books. I shall proceed to quote verbatim from a section of our study brainstorm this year:

– Different views of progress (Linear, Regression, Plato)
– Genesis (from hunter-gatherers to cities; farming and societies take over nomadic forms of life; God as narrator disagrees with progress; cities are destroyed; there is no way to go back to perfection)
– Rousseau (savage man with no attachment to each other, has no reason and self-awareness; nascent man [ideal state]; civil man – inequality, selfish, unethical)
– Plato (idealism, achieve ideal state and staying there — grasping the truth — going from appetite to spirit to reason SEE DIAGRAM HERE )
– Mill (individual thought, rationalism, utilitarianism; diversity of opinion brings us closer to the truth)
– Gandhi (Swaraj – liberation & self rule, self respect; regression to traditional India – focus on small communities – eliminating technology & the British system / influences; education for freedom)

Et cetera. It really works! Firstly, it allows you to compare and contrast each book – ideal for those essays in the exam, where you’ll have to write on four books/texts for whatever subject they choose to toss at you. Secondly, gathering it under each umbrella theme makes for moments where you’ll be able to pull things out of your hat easily during the exam. Colonialization? No problemo, Gandhi and Forster! (And about a zillion more BUT that is beside the point.) Gender? How about EVERY OTHER BOOK we’ve read? Also, brianstorming with your fellow Arts Oners gives you nifty ideas you might not have otherwise thought of. AND you get to bond over coffee and throwing copies of Home and the World at each other. Yippie! Sip the juice of erudition from the giant bin of brain juices and watch them letters and words floating on the slick surface of thought and ideas, my friends.

Oh yea. And you have time after the essays, do your quotes. Just, you know, don’t stress too much about them. They can be tricky. Rousseau can sound a lot like Plato sometimes. Descartes abuses commas. Erratic capitalization = Dickinson. There’s no real trick to learning the quotes. You may have read the books, every single one of them, but when they throw something at you randomly, there is no guarantee you’ll know it. DON’T TRY TO MEMORIZE THE BOOKS. BAD IDEA. Just know the main ideas, and you’ll segue into it just nicely. Chances are if you know what the books are about, you’ll be able to deduce. And even if you get it wrong, you’ll have deduced, well, intelligently.

Just out of curiosity, is anyone (potential first-years!) reading this considering Arts One? If so, why? Feel free to ask questions et cetera. I’ll try my best to answer them (:

Cheers for now,

P.S. I promise I’ll talk about my trip at some point soon. Maybe…even tomorrow…who knows?

Tags:   6 Comments

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Tysune Jun 7, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    What books did you have to read?

  • 2 Phoebe Yu Jun 7, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    These sound like great tips!

    Two or three people have msged me via email and Facebook about Arts One, and I have been referring them to your blog Mary =)

  • 3 Eastwood Jun 7, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    I. Cannot. Get. Started. On. My. English 112. Paper.


  • 4 Mary Leong Jun 8, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    @Tysune – Haha, an incredibly wide range of books! But just to give you a selection: anything ranging from Homer’s Iliad to Decartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy to ancient Urdu poetry to Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses to Conrad’s Heart of Darkness…lots of philosophy, literature, and history. Good stuff, though. It really makes you read books you otherwise wouldn’t have thought to pick up.

    @Phoebe – Hee, thank you! One of your friends added me on Facebook and asked a bunch of questions re: Arts One and I was glad to oblige (:

    @Eastwood – Gooooooooo! You can do it! -hands cookie of eloquence-What’s the paper on?

  • 5 Eastwood Jun 8, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    I’m writing about how newspapers have changed the perception of mental illness, leading to society’s gradual understanding and acceptance.

  • 6 Mary Leong Jun 12, 2009 at 11:44 pm

    @Eastwood – That’s a great topic! Let me know how it goes (: