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For the poet Phillis Wheatley, who was brought to colonial

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For the poet Phillis Wheatley, who was brought to colonial [#permalink] New post 21 Aug 2012, 21:39
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For the poet Phillis Wheatley, who was brought to colonial New England as a slave in 1761, the formal literary code of eighteenth-century English was thrice removed: by the initial barrier of the unfamiliar English language, by the discrepancy between spoken and literary forms of English, and by the African tradition of oral rather than written verbal art.Wheatley transcended these barriers—she learned the English language and English literary forms so quickly and well that she was composing good poetry in English within a few years of her arrival in New England.

Wheatley’s experience exemplifies the meeting of oral and written literary cultures. The aesthetic principles of the African oral tradition were preserved in America by folk artists in work songs, dancing, field hollers, religious music, the use of the drum, and, after the drum was forbidden, in the perpetuation of drum effects in song. African languages and the functions of language in African societies not only contributed to the emergence of a distinctive Black English but also exerted demonstrable effects on the manner in which other Americans spoke English. Given her African heritage and her facility with English and the conventions of English poetry,Wheatley’s work had the potential to apply the ideas of a written literature to an oral literary tradition in the creation of an African American literary language.

But this was a potential that her poetry unfortunately did not exploit. The standards of eighteenth-century English poetry, which itself reflected little of the American language, led Wheatley to develop a notion of poetry as a closed system, derived from imitation of earlier written works. No place existed for the rough-and-ready Americanized English she heard in the streets, for the English spoken by Black people, or for Africanisms. The conventions of eighteenth-century neoclassical poetry ruled out casual talk; her voice and feelings had to be generalized according to rules of poetic diction and characterization; the particulars of her African past, if they were to be dealt with at all, had to be subordinated to the reigning conventions. African poetry did not count as poetry in her new situation, and African aesthetic canons were irrelevant to the new context because no linguistic or social framework existed to reinforce them.Wheatley adopted a foreign language and a foreign literary tradition; they were not extensions of her past experience, but replacements.

Thus limited by the eighteenth-century English literary code,Wheatley’s poetry contributed little to the development of a distinctive African American literary language. Yet by the standards of the literary conventions in which she chose to work, Wheatley’s poetry is undeniably accomplished, and she is justly celebrated as the first Black American poet.



1. Which one of the following best expresses the main idea of the passage?
(A) Folk artists employed more principles of African oral tradition in their works than did Phillis Wheatley in her poetry.
(B) Although PhillisWheatley had to overcome significant barriers in learning English, she mastered the literary conventions of eighteenth-century English as well as African aesthetic canons.
(C) Phillis Wheatley’s poetry did not fulfill the potential inherent in her experience but did represent a significant accomplishment.
(D) The evolution of a distinctive African American literary language can be traced from the creations of African American folk artists to the poetry of Phillis Wheatley.
(E) Phillis Wheatley joined with African American folk artists in preserving the principles of the African oral tradition.

2.The approach to poetry taken by a modern-day Italian immigrant in America would be most analogous to PhillisWheatley’s approach, as it is described in the passage, if the immigrant
(A) translated Italian literary forms into the American idiom
(B) combined Italian and American literary traditions into a new form of poetic expression
(C) contributed to the development of a distinctive Italian American literary style
(D) defined artistic expression in terms of eighteenth-century Italian poetic conventions
(E) adopted the language and forms of modern American poetry

3. According to the passage, African languages had a notable influence on
(A) the religious music of colonists in New England
(B) the folk art of colonists in New England
(C) formal written English
(D) American speech patterns
(E) eighteenth-century aesthetic principles

4. By a “closed system” of poetry , the author most probably means poetry that
(A) cannot be written by those who are not raised knowing its conventions
(B) has little influence on the way language is actually spoken
(C) substitutes its own conventions for the aesthetic principles of the past
(D) does not admit the use of street language and casual talk
(E) is ultimately rejected because its conventions leave little room for further development

5. According to the passage, the standards of eighteenth-century English poetry permitted Wheatley to include which one of the following in her poetry?
(A) generalized feelings
(B) Americanized English
(C) themes from folk art
(D) casual talk
(E) Black speech

6. Which one of the following, if true, would most weaken the author’s argument concerning the role that Wheatley played in the evolution of an African American literary language?
(A) Wheatley’s poetry was admired in England for its faithfulness to the conventions of neoclassical poetry.
(B) Wheatley compiled a history in English of her family’s experiences in Africa and America.
(C) The language barriers thatWheatley overcame were eventually transcended by all who were brought from Africa as slaves.
(D) Several modern African American poets acknowledge the importance of Wheatley’s poetry to American literature.
(E) Scholars trace themes and expressions in African American poetry back to the poetry of Wheatley.

7. It can be inferred that the author of the passage would most probably have praised Phillis Wheatley’s poetry more if it had
(A) affected the manner in which slaves and freed Black people spoke English
(B) defined African American artistic expression in terms of earlier works
(C) adopted the standards of eighteenth-century English poetry
(D) combined elements of the English literary tradition with those of the African oral tradition
(E) focused on the barriers that written English literary forms presented to Black artists

8. Which one of the following most accurately characterizes the author’s attitude with respect to Phillis Wheatley’s literary accomplishments?
(A) enthusiastic advocacy
(B) qualified admiration
(C) dispassionate impartiality
(D) detached ambivalence
(E) perfunctory dismissal


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Re: Wonderful RC Passage [#permalink] New post 22 Aug 2012, 10:09
Good passage indeed. May I know the source? Good answer explanation too.
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Re: Wonderful RC Passage [#permalink] New post 22 Aug 2012, 11:12
Good passage....did one silly mistake in question 4.... Please let us know the source.


One more question......will GMAT have such long passages.....took 3 minutes to read passage and 8 minutes for questions......what should be the optimal time for the above passage.
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Re: Wonderful RC Passage [#permalink] New post 22 Aug 2012, 15:49
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vivekdixit07 wrote:
Good passage....did one silly mistake in question 4.... Please let us know the source.


One more question......will GMAT have such long passages.....took 3 minutes to read passage and 8 minutes for questions......what should be the optimal time for the above passage.



According to MGAMT RC you should spend

Quote:

For short passages: Spend approximately two to three minutes reading and creating your
Headline List. Spend approximately 60 seconds answering General questions and between 60 to
90 seconds answering Specific questions.

For long passages: Spend approximately three to four minutes reading and creating your Skeletal
Sketch. Spend approximately 60 seconds answering General questions and between 60 to 90 sec-
onds answering Specific questions.

In general, simply use the following timing formula for each passage:

(# of Questions) x 2 = Total # of Minutes You Should Spend

This total number of minutes includes time for reading the passage, creating a Headline List or
Skeletal Sketch, and answering all the questions.


based on this, 16 minutes should be used to answer the 8 questions but

1) for me is not a really good passage, it seems more a cut and paste of phrases because , I rely on my sensation, the passges on OG even when are really convoluted and dense of details have a pretty straightforward thread

2) In a short passage you will typically see 3 questions and 4 for long ( maybe 5 or 6 but NOT 8 questions). Either way this is not a rigid rule.

Hope this help :)
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Re: Wonderful RC Passage [#permalink] New post 22 Aug 2012, 18:35
vivekdixit07 wrote:
Good passage....did one silly mistake in question 4.... Please let us know the source.


One more question......will GMAT have such long passages.....took 3 minutes to read passage and 8 minutes for questions......what should be the optimal time for the above passage.



This question appeared in LSAT 1991. What I liked about the passage is the way it was structured and the questions depend on how well you understand the structure.
Good for honing RC skills, but GMAT does not have such lengthy passages.
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Re: Wonderful RC Passage [#permalink] New post 22 Aug 2012, 19:21
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I bet it came from LSAT

I knew :)

After all, a good excercise
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Re: For the poet Phillis Wheatley, who was brought to colonial [#permalink] New post 02 Oct 2012, 22:42
got 4/8 correct time 14 min 50 sec
bt i am facing difficulty in structuring the skeleton, moreover the flow of readin in such passage is really difficult can someone advise what should i do
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Re: For the poet Phillis Wheatley, who was brought to colonial [#permalink] New post 03 Oct 2012, 09:33
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Archit143 wrote:
got 4/8 correct time 14 min 50 sec
bt i am facing difficulty in structuring the skeleton, moreover the flow of readin in such passage is really difficult can someone advise what should i do


The good news is that the passages in GMAT will be much shorter than this one, so if you are intimidated by the length, fear not :)
That apart, my personal opinion is that the stratagem required to conquer this passage is same as that required to score in GMAT RC. Usually everyone has their own technique which they employ for RC. What is your technique? I mean that's the question you should ask yourself. Are you taking mental notes after each para, asking yourself how this para relates to the overall structure? Do you take notes on paper? With every passage, consciously work on your technique till it becomes automatic.
If you thought that the content was difficult, I suggest you start making a habit of reading GMAT fiction, other books and magazines and stuff which you find boring. GMAT rarely gives you interesting topics (rather interesting topics in lucid language). In fact they purposely make it boring and convoluted.

Not sure if this answers your question but structuring passages is a thought process which will be unique to every passage so its difficult to give you tips on that.
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Re: For the poet Phillis Wheatley, who was brought to colonial [#permalink] New post 08 Jan 2013, 20:35
It's amazing. I got it all correct in 14 minutes!
Practice is now paying off.

I'm shock and I'm not even a native speaker... :D
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Re: For the poet Phillis Wheatley, who was brought to colonial [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2013, 10:27
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I m truly amazed , got this one down in 11:24 . Got 6/8 right, pretty happy that i got the answers right for the right reasons.
2 and 6 are the ones i got wrong.. Chose C in both . But these mistakes are scalable :-D
Good passage .. +1
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Re: For the poet Phillis Wheatley, who was brought to colonial [#permalink] New post 18 Mar 2013, 10:35
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Great Passage.
Got all right except for 4 question in under 11 mins.

Was wondering why "B" can also not be the answer here!

4. By a “closed system” of poetry , the author most probably means poetry that
(A) cannot be written by those who are not raised knowing its conventions
(B) has little influence on the way language is actually spoken - Is this not true? The poetry did not want to be influenced by street form of the language?
(C) substitutes its own conventions for the aesthetic principles of the past
(D) does not admit the use of street language and casual talk - Agree this is a stronger option only after I got it wrong :P
(E) is ultimately rejected because its conventions leave little room for further development
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Re: For the poet Phillis Wheatley, who was brought to colonial [#permalink] New post 22 Mar 2013, 08:56
Hi - I agree, B was tempting!

The way I got to D, was by looking at the sentence structure. Here is the relevant section:

The standards of eighteenth-century English poetry, which itself reflected little of the American language, led Wheatley to develop a notion of poetry as a closed system, derived from imitation of earlier written works.


If you look at it (using your best sentence correction skills...) the piece of the sentence that relates to 'closed system' is the bit immediately after the comma that follows it derived from imitation of earlier written works

If you just take that section, answer D is correct.

Answer B actually refers to reflected little of the American language which is not the part of the sentence describing 'closed system'

Hope that helps.
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Re: For the poet Phillis Wheatley, who was brought to colonial   [#permalink] 22 Mar 2013, 08:56
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