CLEP Humanities : Analyzing the Form of Classical Nonfiction and Philosophy

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for CLEP Humanities

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Analyzing The Form Of Classical Nonfiction And Philosophy

St. Augustine of Hippo's Confessions (c. 397 CE) is notable as an early example of the literary form known as __________.

Possible Answers:

epic poem

travelogue

autobiography

catechism

historical fiction

Correct answer:

autobiography

Explanation:

Augustine's Confessions follows the life of the author from his birth through thirteen separate books. Primarily the story of Augustine's early spiritual and educational life and his eventual conversion to Christianity, the book nonetheless covers the important details of Augustine's life. This makes the Confessions one of the earliest examples of an autobiography.

Example Question #2 : Analyzing The Form Of Classical Nonfiction And Philosophy

Which of the following best describes the literary style of Plato?

Possible Answers:

Tome

Treatise

Discourse

Dialogue

Letter

Correct answer:

Dialogue

Explanation:

Although there are several letters attributed to Plato, the bulk of his works are written in the form of dialogues. In his philosophical works, he often writes of how Socrates disputes and discusses some matter with various figures of Athenian civic life. The dialogue style itself is masterful, often using literary devices to make subtle philosophical points. In this, he differs greatly from his student, Aristotle, whose works are quite dry (though also much more direct and clear than are Plato's works). Many later philosophers would write in the form of dialogues, though it is arguable that few ever matched the excellence of Plato's style.

Example Question #3 : Analyzing The Form Of Classical Nonfiction And Philosophy

Which of the following best describes the genre of the Confessions of St. Augustine?

Possible Answers:

Autobiography

Divulgence

Dialogue

Discussion

Interrogation

Correct answer:

Autobiography

Explanation:

In the Confessions, Augustine of Hippo pens a story of his conversion to Christianity. In this, he does "confess" his guilt and arrival at conversion from this guilty state of life. The whole work is written like a monologue to God—a long prayer. This is not offered as an option among those provided for this question. Instead, the closest genre here noted is that of autobiography. In a general way of speaking, Augustine does pen an autobiography by writing the Confessions. It does tell his life story up to a certain point in history, thus giving us a form of monologue-to-God-biography.

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