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Posts Tagged ‘Module C’

Poets in Partnership

Another source of insight into the relationship between Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes for Module C Conflicting Perspectives.

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A good way to get started analysing your related texts is to treat them as unseen texts from Paper 1 Section1. Sit down with your text (or, if it’s a long text such as a novel or a film, one or two extracts) and annotate it (for a film, write a detailed viewing log); then answer these questions:

  1. What is the text’s message about belonging (or conflicting perspectives or history and memory)?
  2. Identify and explain at least two language (or visual or aural) features that explore this aspect of belonging (or conflicting perspectives or history and memory).
  3. What is the tone?
  4. Identify and explain at least one language (or visual or aural) feature that reinforces this tone.

Now you should have at least two points to make about the piece and at least three quote/technique/explanations (triangles of doom) to support them. That’s a paragraph’s worth of information. Need more? Sit down with a study buddy and do this for each other’s related texts. This is great practice for Paper 1 Section 1 and should also result in more notes for both of you.

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Here is how I would approach Paper 2:

Tactic Time (mins) Count Down Clock
Reading Time
Read the questions for Modules A, B, and C. Make sure you check that you read the correct questionfor your elective/text. 5 2h
Writing Time
Annotate the question for Module A and plan your response, including a strong thesis statement and between two and four main supporting points. Remember the focus of this module is CONTEXT. 5 1h55m
Write your Module A essay. 35 1h20m
Annotate the question for Module B and plan your response, including a strong thesis statement and between two and four main supporting points. Remember the focus of this module is RECEPTION. 5 1h15m
Write your Module B essay. 35 40m
Annotate the question for Module C and plan your response, including a strong thesis statement and between two and four main supporting points. Remember the focus of this module is REPRESENTATION. 5 35m
Write your Module C essay. 35 0

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One way to approach the concept of Conflicting Perspectives for Module C is through imagery and extended metaphor. Conflicting Perspectives are about how people standing in differently places, see things (events, personalities, situations) in different ways. You know what else people see differently depending on their perspective? Art.

This is “Ascending and Descending” by MC Escher. Depending on how you look at it, the figures are either climbing or walking down stairs. The staircase is also endlessly rising or falling; again, depending on your perspective. From this image we can draw two ideas (thesis statements):

  1. Conflicting perspectives are an inevitable part of the human experience (the figures are trapped within the staircase, heading in opposite directions).
  2. Conflicting perspectives are shaped by differing contexts (how you look at the image directs whether you see the figures as “ascending” or “descending”).

This is  Salvador Dali’s portrait of his wife, entitled “My Wife Nude”. This image shows a classic nude portrait of Gala, Dali’s wife, echoed by a Gala-shaped building in the background. This image also inspires two ideas about Conflicting Perspectives:

  1. Conflicting Perspectives are  shaped by both intimacy and distance (when viewed up close, Gala is Dali’s beloved wife; from a distance, she becomes a construct).
  2. Conflicting Perspectives can exist within an individual (it is Dali, the artist, who sees his wife in these two ways).

These images could be used as related material by students who are confident in visual analysis; or they could be used as extended metaphors to shape the ideas in an essay.

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There are, as I have said in previous posts, a couple of different ways to approach the selection of related material for Module C. This is true also for Peter Carey’s The True History of the Kelly Gang (which, by the way, I think is quite a difficult text) in the History and Memory elective.

Approach One: Stick to Ned, his gang and 19th Century Victoria

Some other texts that would work for this approach are:

Gregor Jordan’s 2003 film Ned Kelly. It has Heath Ledger, it has Orlando Bloom and it opens with a scene which it represents as being Ned Kelly’s personal memory. What more could you want?

The Jerilderie Letter. This link is to the State Library of Victoria page on this artefact/text. You can find the full text of the letter (I think this is also reproduced in the novel). There are some other text links from this page that also look interesting.

Stringybark Creek. Ballads are interesting because they have the status of being oral history but are actually usually quite recent. This one supposedly comes from the Kelly era and the story goes that people caught singing it could be fined up to five pounds.

And while we’re on songs:

For a broader approach, I suggest looking at the National Museum of Australia’s webpage about their current exhibition Not Just Ned: A True History of the Irish in Australia. Its appropriation of Carey’s title is deliberate. Like the Smithsonian site (another core text for this module and elective) this site includes personal stories as well as official history. Websites are brilliant to analyse because of their multimodal nature.

Approach Two: Explore other Historical Personalities, Events and Situations

For example:
Constitutional Crisis 1975

Situation: The Whitlam government was elected in 1972 with a small majority in the House while the Senate was controlled by the Opposition. In 1975 the Opposition used its Senate majority to block supply, effectively shutting down the government and causing a constitutional crisis.

Personalities: Gough Whitlam, Prime Minister; Sir John Kerr, Governor General; Malcolm Fraser, leader of the Opposition.

Event: The sacking of Gough Whitlam by Sir John Kerr on November 11 1975.

Texts:

Whitlam’s Speech This link to an audio extract of the speech at Australian Screen Online  includes curators notes and links to other visual and audio texts.

Whitlam Dismissal Online This site contains links to songs, official documents and new clippings about the situation, event and personalities. There is also a sound and picture archives.

Jeff’s Cartoons Political cartoons from 1975.

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The focus of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is on the following personalities, events and situations:

Personalities: Caesar; Brutus; Cassius; Antony; Calpurnia; Portia and Octavian.

Situations: the expanding Roman Empire; the failure of the triumvirate; the civil war resulting from Caesar’s death and the ultimate end of the Roman Republic.

Events: Antony offering Caesar the crown; the night of omens; Caesar’s assassination; and the battle at Philippi.

Julius Caesar is an essentially political play. An interesting approach to selecting related material would be to consider other political situations that have inspired conflicting perspectives (otherwise known as every political situation ever) and find some texts that portray different perspectives.

Good places to find texts include:

Texts can be articles, images, blog posts, news reports or even forum discussions (if they’re well written).  You can also usually find books, both non-fiction and fiction, about historical events and, if they were sufficiently interesting or significant, there may be a film. Here are some ideas to get you started searching (try to find something that interests you).

Personalities: Julia Gillard; Bill Clinton; Tony Blair; Margaret Thatcher; Idi Amin; Winston Churchill; Charles de Gaulle; Nelson Mandela.

Situations: The war in Iraq; the Suffragette movement; the Cuban Missile Crisis; the Indonesian invasion of East Timor; the fall of the Ottoman empire; the Apartheid regime in South Africa.

Events: The assassination of President Lincoln; the fall of the Berlin Wall; the coronation of Elizabeth I; the abdication of Edward VIII.

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The focus of Birthday Letters (or at least the poems selected for study) is on the following personalities, events and situations:

Personalities: Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath and, to a lesser extent, Otto Plath

Situations: The marriage between Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath and its subsequent breakdown.

Events: Seeing a photograph, eating a peach, destroying an heirloom sideboard, a trip to Paris, a wild ride on a runaway horse, Plath’s eventual suicide.

There have been other literary marriages and relationships that have been personality driven and tumultuous. Exploring some texts that portray conflicting perspectives about these relationships could be an interesting approach to this module.

Personalities: F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, writers, expatriots and icons of the roaring twenties.

Situations: Their whirlwind courtship, acrimonious marriage, F. Scott’s alcoholism, their literary careers, Zelda’s obsession with ballet, her struggle with mental illness.

Events: Zelda being admitted to a sanitorium and diagnosed with schizophrenia, F. Scott’s affair with Sheilah Graham, his death in Hollywood, Zelda’s death in a fire.

Texts

Nancy Milford’s fascinating biography of Zelda Fitzgerald. Well researched and, although sympathetic towards its subject, inclusive of other perspectives.

The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Allegedly Fitzgerald stole excerpts from his wife’s diaries and included them, verbatim, in this and other novels. When Zelda Fitzgerald drew on their relationship for her writing, F. Scott became enraged.

Article: Would you swap places with Zelda Fitzgerald? from The Guardian

A visual biography of the couple, which was created drawing on their individual albums and scrapbooks.

The Collected Writings of Zelda Fitzgerald, includes her novel Save Me the Waltz as well as semi-autobiographical short stories and magazine articles.

Given the theme of conflicting perspectives, these texts could also work for The Justice Game, Julius Caesar, Snow Falling on Cedars or the other core texts. I think they could also work for History and Memory, particularly The Woman Warrior or The Queen.

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Module C is about the REPRESENTATION of events, personalities and situations. The Smithsonian website, September 11: Bearing Witness to History, represents an event: the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

A different approach to selecting related material for this text is to choose an historical event–or situation, or personality–that has been represented in an interesting way in texts that include personal memory as well as documented history. I like multimodal texts for this module because they are rich in techniques.

The best way to go about this selection is to follow your own interests but here are some suggestions to get you started.

Event: The Apollo 11 Moon Landing 20 July, 1969

The first moonlanding (video)

Television was still a relatively new medium. Look at how it is used, consciously and deliberately, to represent this historic moment.

Apollo 11 Mission Report (declassified)

Focus on the cover page and the way in which NASA represents the mission objectives and its crew (page 91)

Satellite of Solitude (Article) by Buzz Aldrin

Beautiful article by Buzz Aldrin recounting his personal memories of his experiences in space.

Buzz Aldrin’s memoir. Beautifully written and a lovely combination of historical fact and personal recount.

 Event: The Atomic Bomb attack on Hiroshima August 4, 1945

An Unrecognized Loss (film)

This is a documentary film from the UN, representing life in Hiroshima before the dropping of the atomic bomb.

Hiroshima Peace Museum (website)

A very moving site with beautiful animations. This text would work well as a complement to the Smithsonian site.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki Remembered (website)

This site focuses on the historical facts of the attack but also includes personal accounts under the heading “Hibakush Stories”.

Although I always advise students to prepare more than one related text each module, any one of these texts would work by itself as they all explore the interplay between history and memory.

More ideas: significant historic personalities

  • Julius Caesar
  • Hatshepsut
  • Eric the Red
  • Elizabeth I
  • Albert Einstein

Significant historical situations

  • Cambodia’s Killing Fields
  • The Black Plague
  • The American Civil War
  • The Enlightenment
  • The Cuban Missile Crisis

Some resources to get you started:

Iconic Photos Blog

This site is particularly useful as many of the photos are connected to articles and news videos.

Wikipedia

I know it’s shocking that a teacher is suggesting using wikipedia but it can be a great starting place. Once you’ve found the event, personality or situation you’re interested in, scroll immediately to the bottom of the page and start working through the links.

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As much as I enjoyed teaching both Birthday Letters and The Justice Game for Conflicting Perspectives, I have to confess that I found the Smithsonian site more interesting than either. A website is a rich and varied text to explore, the Smithsonian site doubly so as it resists providing the same reading path more than once so that each visit is a unique experience. And however much I loved the drama of the Plath/Hughes relationship as a teenager and however much the trials of Robertson’s career are seminal and important, September 11, 2001 is a day that has shaped the history of the 21st Century, my century, and a day that will live on in my memory.

There are a few different ways to approach the selection of related material for this text and module. The first, and easiest, is to choose texts that portray the same event: the attack on the World Trade Center. There are a number of interesting texts out there, here are a couple of suggestions:

Michael Moore’s vitriolic (and quite entertaining) rant against the Bush administration’s response to the attack on the World Trade Center. This documentary, like the website, contains different media and a mixture of historical and personal sources. Moore’s purpose in questioning official history and trying to make his own is very clear.

This beautiful book focuses on the idea of heroes, whose bravery was revealed during the events of September 11. Like the website, it tells the stories of real people but using a traditionally fictional form: the graphic novel.

This documentary is fascinating and deeply moving. The insights into the American psyche, particularly regarding the (photographic) representation of the fall (or jump). I have rarely had more interesting discussions in the classroom than I had after viewing this documentary.

There are also a large number of articles and essays about the event. This year is the ten year anniversary so there’s likely to be a proliferation of media responses coming out soon.

Part Two of this post will be published this week.

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For Birthday Letters, the approach I have suggested is to find texts with perspectives on the same personalities and situations as the core text (Hughes, Plath, their marriage, her suicide). The Justice Game is a different type of text. Although Robertson is undeniably a strong personality and there are certainly texts with conflicting perspectives on the cases discussed, related material that explores a contemporary issue works well for this text.

The criteria I am using to select issues and texts is as follows:

1. The issue must reflect a conflict between differing attitudes or value systems.

2. One of the suggested resolutions for conflicting perspectives on the issue must be a change in the law.

3. Texts which represent the issue must acknowledge (if only to dismiss) perspectives that conflict with the composer’s own.

Examples

Issue: The wearing of Burqas

(thank you to the Year 12s whose argument in the computer lab yesterday inspired the inclusion of this issue)

Summary: The reasons for opposing the wearing of the burqa range from its perceived status as a symbol of female oppression to security fears. France has banned it and other European countries are considering following suit.

Memoir: Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

News Report: Is Islam on Trial?

News Article: Muslim woman ‘right’ to question cops

News Article: Australia may use fingerprints to ID burqa wearers

Opinion Piece: Is that a feminist under your burqa?

There are many others, on both sides of this question. Use the Google News tab to get up to date articles and opinion pieces.

Issue: British Libel Laws

Summary: In 2008 author and journalist, Simon Singh, published an article in The Guardian, which criticised chiropractors. He was sued for libel by the British Chiropractors Association. This raised not only the question of free speech but also the out-dated nature of British libel laws.

Opinion piece: Beware the Spinal Trap (Singh’s original article)

Opinion piece: English Libel Law is a Vulture Circling the World

Press release: Update on BCA v Simon Singh

Blog post: Judgement: BCA v Singh (great legal perspective)

Issue: Boat People

Summary: Refugees sometimes come to Australia in boats (often small, unseaworthy, dangerous boats) looking for asylum. Due to popular and political pressure, these refugees are confined in remote detention centres or sent to nearby (or not so nearby in the case of Malaysia) countries as part of the so-called Pacific Solution. Some Australians feel that this treatment is inhumane.

Television series: Go Back To Where You Came From

Opinion piece: The lawful presence of ‘illegal arrivals’ on ‘illegal boat

Opinion column: You call this even-handed? Refugee series is strictly for the gullible.

Other issues worth exploring include: Julian Assange and Wikileaks; International Law and the War on Terror; Google Books and Copyright; Apple’s App Store and Censorship.

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