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IJMB Literature 102 Past Questions 2015




INSTRUCTION: Answer Section ONE (1) and TWO (2) other questions; ONE (1) from Section B and ONE other from Section C.


Instruction: Read the passage and answer all questions that follow:

1. “The true art of memory”, said Samuel Johnson “is the art of attention”. In the intervening 200 years, nothing scientists have learned has undercut Johnson’s conclusion: we remember what we concentrate on. Mnemonics, then, although defined as methods that assist memory, are really exercises in concentration that force us to process information in the mind’s deeper reaches. Researchers led by Michael Epstein of Rider College found that people who are instructed to find differences between related pairs of words, (like shoe and boot) and similarities between unrelated (like fence and helicopter) recall almost twice as many items as people who are told outright to memorize them. Psychologists think that “depth of processing” is related to retention; in some not-yet-understood sense, studying words for their meanings brings more of the mind into play than a mere attempt at memorisation. Moreover, the improved recall lasts. Information processed “at a deeper semantic level,” Epstein says, is recalled well because it decays more slowly than information noted superficially. “If people paid attention, they could improve their memories 50 per cent”, he says.

The myriad course and books offering help in remembering anything, from the phone number for Chinese takeout to the number of a dozen strangers at a party, rely on just a few tricks. Among them:

  • To remember a name, link it to an image with a similar sound. Visualization is one of the most powerful tools of memory. If a woman’s name is Terry, imagine her picking berries. Or break the name into a silly idea: a man named Madison might be thought of as “mad at his son”.
  • Try rhymes. I before E except after C really does work. So do rhymes. Homer’s hexameter undoubtedly helps preserve the “Iliad” in oral tradition.
  • If you come up blank in your efforts to find a rhyme or visual association, for a name, rehearse it. Say it to yourself as soon as you are introduced, wait a few seconds and say it again. Wait twice as long and rehearse a third time. “The increasing waits make this technique more effective than simple repetition”, says psychologist Douglas Hermann of Hamilton College, “because you have to sustain attention”.
  • To memorize unrelated things, like a shopping list try the “loci” mnemonic, distributing items to be remembered along a familiar street. A Russian renowned for his memory could hear a list of words and recite them back without error 15 years later. As he heard each item he mentally placed it along Moscow’s Gorky Street, outside a shop he knew well. To remember the items, he took a walk down Gorky and picked them up one at a time. 
  1. Suggest a suitable title for the passage (2 marks)
  2. What does “depth of processing” mean in relation to memory? (3 marks)
  3. What is Epstein’s understanding of how memory works? (5 marks)
  4. Why does studying words for their meanings work better than mere memorization?             (5 marks)
  5. Explain the meanings of the underlined expressions used in the passage.                               (15 marks, three marks each).


INSTRUCTION: Answer ONE (1) question only.

Jane Austen > Emma

2. Jane Austen’s subject matter is limited to the life and manners of a very small group of middle-class English families. How accurate is this assessment of Emma?

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eight-Four

3. Discuss the effective use of language in the treatment of the theme or themes in Orwell’s Nineteen Eight-Four

William Golding: Lord of the Flies

4. In what way is the Lord of the Flies a parable of humanity?

5. General: Compare and contrast the distinguishing features of the African and non-African novels.


INSTRUCTION:  Answer ONE (1) question only

6. General: Using at least two African novels you read, justify Achebe’s contention of the novelist as a teacher.

7. What are the characteristics and relevance of literature in society? Use at least one non-African and an African novel to illustrate your answer. Compare Fragments and Footprints as novels of pros-independence disillusionment.

8. Alex La Guma: A Walk in the Night

Discuss the fate of Michael Adonis as a victim of Apartheid in South Africa of the era.

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