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Posts Tagged ‘Wilfred Owen’

The rubric for this module is, I think, the shortest for any English module in the HSC. It reads:

This module requires students to engage in detailed analysis of a text. It develops students’ understanding of how the ideas, forms and language of a text interact within the text and may affect those responding to it

Although brief, this paragraph has a lot of ideas packed into it. Here are the key ones:

Ideas: this refers to the themes and message of a text. One way we’ve discussed it in class is the “big ideas” of the text.

Forms: this is the type and structure of a text; for example, whether it’s a poem, a novel, or a play and then how it is put together within its text type.

Language: this refers to the word choices and techniques used by the composer.

Then we need to work out how these interact and how the mix of ideas, form, and language affect responders. (Psst, you’re the responder but so are the people for whom the text was originally composed).

Wilfred Owen’s poem ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ is written in sonnet form (form). Sonnets are usually about love so Owen’s ideas about war (ideas), expressed using violent imagery (language), are made even more confronting (affect on responders) for his readers.

Mark Haddon’s novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, uses first person narration (language) and chapters labelled using prime numbers (form) to highlight the protagonist’s Asperger’s affected worldview (ideas). This invites the reader to empathise with him (affect on responders).

Being able to bring these three elements–ideas, form and language–together and analyse the affect on the responder, is not easy. But if you can get on top of it before the dreaded Trials, you should be able to nail this module.

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The Standard Module B: Close Study of Text Rubric reads:

This module requires students to engage in detailed analysis of a text. It develops students’ understanding of how the ideas, forms and language of a text interact within the text and may affect those responding to it.

The key words are:

detailed analysis – this goes beyond the “describe” that is often the key to Standard English modules. This requires making links between “ideas”, “forms”, and “language”. In other words, how does the composer use the textual form and language to convey ideas to an audience? To do this, you will need to know your text really well.

ideas – this is another word for theme or message. What is the text about, in a general way? What is the composer trying to achieve? For example, Wilfred Owen’s poems are “about” war but his message is a warning to future generations to avoid war’s horrors.

forms – it is important to acknowledge and understand the effect of text type. The Curious Incident is a novel and needs to be read differently from Cosi, which is a play or Into the Wild which is a non-fiction text. Each textual form has its own conventions and techniques, which convey its message.

language – this is not just the composer’s choice of words. It also refers to the techniques, or language tricks, if you like, used in the text. While Owen employs graphic imagery and biblical allusion to reinforce the severity of his message, Haddon uses the rather stilted first person narrative to convey the confusion of his protagonist.

responding – audiences (I prefer this term to “responders”, which is a bit clunky) are affected in different ways by texts. This module asks you to consider how an audience would respond to the way in which composers use textual form and language to convey a message. The best way to begin attacking this part is by keeping a reading journal as you study or revise: what is your personal response to the text?

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