Midterm Questions for HUM 3255: Modern Humanities

The midterm will consist of a subset of the following questions, of my choice. I reserve the right to have a question on the test that you have not seen before. The test will be in class, and you will have the whole class (50 minutes) to write. You should use all the resources at your disposal to answer these questions - texts, lectures, website material, videos & movies, guest lectures, the library. The best answers will be well organized, well written, comprehensive, and to the point. The test is worth 20% of the final grade.


1. In which ways are modernism and individualism mutually supporting, and in which ways might they be at odds?

2. How might Freud be considered a (modernist) scientist, and how might he be considered a storyteller? What are the strengths and limits of his science of the self?

3. What does "modernism" mean? How does it differ from "modernity"? What are the "strengths" and "weaknesses" of modernism? Take a figure we have discussed in this course other than Freud or Werther/Goethe and suggest ways in which he or she could be considered as modernist, and alternatively, as part of modernity.

4. How would Freud and Kierkegaard analyze Bladerunner, from the point of view of our sense of self?

5. How could modern technology be linked with the modernist self? With modernist social organization?

6. The following is from Sorrows of Young Werther, 47-48

"We often complain that there are so few good days and so many bad ones," I began, "but I think we are wrong to do so. If our hearts were always open, so that we could enjoy the good things God bestows on us every day, we should also have the strength to bear the misfortunes that come our way." - "But we cannot control our dispositions," countered the vicar's wife; "so much depends on the body! If we feel unwell, nothing will please us." - I conceded the point. - "In that case," I continued, "let us consider ill-humour a disease, and inquire whether there is no remedy for it." ... "Ill-humour is just like indolence; in fact it is a kind of indolence. We are inclined that way by nature, but if we only have the strength to pull ourselves together our work goes wonderfully and we take real pleasure in what we are doing."

What would Freud say about Werther's position, and about the vicar's wife's position? What would Kierkegaard say?

7. Is Kierkegaard's The Present Age a depiction of modernity, modernism, or both, or neither? Explain your answer.

8. In what ways does the city of Orlando exhibit modernism in its design? What are the strengths and/or limitations of this form of modernism?