PAPER 5 A brief overview of particular problems. What is the format of the Paper 5 test? Section A: 1 hour Close analyze an unseen poem, play or prose passage. You will have two options to choose. The prompt will be inane and broad: “Comment closely and critically on the speech as a representation of womanhood.” Section B: 1 hour Comparison question on two of the set texts. You can decide which texts to compare. They will give you two prompts to choose from. Something like “Compare the distinctive ways in which issues of gender-identity are presented in any of the two texts you’ve studied” or “With detailed reference to any two of the texts you have studied, compare ways in which the writers treat the motherhood and marriage.” Section C: 1 hour Answer one of two questions about the remaining text (ie you can’t write about one of the two texts you used in Section B). The prompt will be something like “Discuss the presentation, develop and significance of the mother-daughter relationship in Housekeeping” or “Discuss Shakespeare’s use of hawking imagery in The Taming of the Shrew” (I made these up…). I have difficulty picking out devices/features. What if I can’t see anything in the texts to be analyzed—what if all I see is the content? What do I do then? Be the self-conscious, sensitive teenager you are. Why do you think the poem is about (content) what you think it’s about? Which clues does the author give you? Another way to understand how a poem works is to understand yourself and your own thinking: how do you arrive at your own conclusions? Which instruments does the writer use? Instead of torturing yourself over how the writer brings you to conclusions, perhaps you should ask how you got there yourself. Nothing is self-evident when it comes to literature. Writers use tools to encourage you to think a certain way about what they’re saying. Because language is so associative, there are many, many tools at the writer’s disposal. From rhetorical tools (argumentative tricks), to sound devices (which suggest certain things that might not be explicit in the poem), to images (which can connote a variety of different--even contradictory--things). Can you see how literature leaves a lot of room for interpretation and argument? If every device can be analyzed and interpreted, there are many different arguments that can be made about one literary text. Does that mean that every argument is correct? That literature can mean everything or nothing? Heck no. Most of the decision made in the world today have nothing to do with empirical results (a formula that will yield a correct answer). War, politics, religion, even science and economics—these are all about making strong arguments and minimizing the possibility of error (risk). The same goes for literature: the strongest argument wins. If your interpretation is more convincing than the next student’s, then you win. I DON’T UNDERSTAND THE POEMS This is the inverse of the previous problem: what to do if you only see what the poem means vs. what to don’t see what the poem means. You probably won’t completely understand a poem upon the first reading; You probably won’t completely understand the poem after looking at it for an hour. If that were possible, why would people still be talking about these poems? We tend to be passive readers and we get frustrated when the meaning doesn’t give Writing about poetry forces us to be active readers. As in the sciences, we know poetry only through what we can observe in it. Poetry is empirical! Who’d’ve thunk it!? The best way to become an active reader is to: 1. Annotate the poem as you read & re-read it. Circle words that seem out of place, images that jump out at you, repetitions of sound, etc. 2. Read once for content. Read twice for devices. Read a third time for sonic devices (try whispering the poem and counting the syllables). 3. Make an outline—list literary devices and points of comparison. It’s likely that you will have a much better idea about what’s going on in the poems after you’ve written a few pages about them. As you begin writing, leave room to adjust your argument after you’ve written the essay. Leave some space to change your introductory paragraph and topic sentences. Is your conclusion stronger than your intro paragraph? That happens all the time. Try rewording/borrowing from your conclusion to strengthen your intro. Re-write it beautifully. I STILL DON’T UNDERSTAND THE POEM. Ask the poem questions if you don’t understand what the poem is “about.” Try with the Five W’s: Who, What, Where, When, Why? WHO: Who is the speaker? Who is he talking to? Why? WHAT: What is he talking about? Why? What is his motive? What does he want? What is his attitude? What is the action? What happens? What is the occasion? What is the event? What is the subject? What do you think of the characters? What does he want you to see? What is his position? What is the poet’s argument? Does it change? Is there a realization or epiphany? What is the subtext? WHERE: Where does the action take place? WHEN: When was this written? When does the action take place? WHY: Why was the poem written? Why is the speaker talking? Why does he describe things the way he describes things? OTHER QUESTIONS: Do you believe this character? Why? Is he honest? Then you deal with the How. How a poem means is literary analysis; What a poem means is narrative. When you deal with how, you deal with literary devices. I STILL DON’T UNDERSTAND THE POEM. Read more poetry. I DON’T UNDERSTAND OLD POEMS. 1. TRANSLATE Thee/Thou: you (personal pronoun) Thy/Thine: your (possessive pronoun) Shall: will; should --éd: an accent indicates that there is a syllable that should be enunciated, even though it’s not natural to do so. For instance untrimméd would have three syllables and be pronounced “un-trim- med.” This is metrical cheating. If a poet is writing in iambic pentameter and he only has 9 syllables in his line, he might opt to pronounce the “ed” as a syllable to bump up his total to ten. --’n: an apostrophe indicates elision—the syllable is dropped. For instanced, heav’n would have one syllable and be pronounced “heavn” instead of two syllables as is usually the case “hea-ven.” Untrimm’d would have two syllables and be pronounced “un-trimd.” This is also metrical cheating. If a poet is writing in iambic pentameter and he has 11 syllables in his line, he might opt to change heaven to heav’n to save him an extra syllable and keep the line to ten syllables total. --st: this is a hold over from a conjugation we no longer use. Just drop the –st. Shouldst becomes should; owest becomes owe. 2. UNTANGLE Untie the syntax--switch around subjects and objects so the poem doesn’t sound like Yoda. Remember: Early modern poets were formal to a fault. They would twist sentences to preserve rhymes and metrical schemes. That’s why you get the kind of tortured syntax that makes early modern poetry hard on our fragile contemporary ears Old English* Early-Modern English (Shax’s English): Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? nu scylun hergan Thou art more lovely and more temperate: hefaenricaes uard Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, metudæs maecti And summer's lease hath all too short a date: end his modgidanc Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, uerc uuldurfadur And often is his gold complexion dimm'd; swe he uundra And every fair from fair sometime declines, gihwaes By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd; eci dryctin But thy eternal summer shall not fade or astelidæ Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest; he aerist scop Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade, aelda barnum When in eternal lines to time thou growest: heben til hrofe So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, haleg scepen. So long lives this and this gives life to thee. tha middungeard moncynnæs uard *More specifically, West Saxon. English snobs that call Singlish (or, for that eci dryctin matter, American English, Ebonics or anything that is not the Queen’s English) a perversion of the English Language are deluding themselves into thinking that æfter tiadæ there has always been one single, official, original English. False. From the start firum foldu there have been multiple Englishes. This poem, “Caedmon’s Hymn,” is probably the first English language poem. And yet we have manuscripts of it in two frea allmectig different dialects. What is the original English? There is none. Language is fluid and English is perhaps one of the most fluid languages because hundreds of different language streams feed into it. It is always growing. Are sonic devices (consonance, assonance, alliteration, sibilance, rhyme, etc) used to produce a sound we can identify? YES. Language began as an oral institution. Alphabets and scripts were sometimes centuries behind oral languages, and sometimes they never developed at all. Poetry began as an oral tradition as well* and as such, most of it is meant to be read aloud. It seems silly to ask students to close analyze a poem without being able to articulate it in the exam hall. We wouldn’t ask you to analyze a painting of a rainbow and only give you a black and white copy of it. We wouldn’t ask you to analyze a dialogue in a film and only give you the stills. Certainly you could still make some commentary in either situation, but you would be missing a large element that conveys meanings. The same is true of poetry. If you can’t read the poem slowly, loudly, then the best way to identify sonic devices (yes, they’re meant to be identified) is to whisper the poem to yourself slowly or sub-vocalize and pay close attention to the voice in your head. *That’s why the question of authorship is so fascinating from Homer (Ancient: Who’s the author? The one who invented with the story or the one who heard it and wrote it down?) to Shakespeare (Early modern: What if the story the author wrote was lost? What if all we have are the fragments of lines that the actors and audiences happened to remember?) to Raymond Carver (Contemporary: Who’s the genius behind a book lauded for its minimalism if the editor expunged more than half the author’s manuscript in the editing process?). I mean, is the sound created directly related to a theme of the poem? SOMETIMES. Sound of course isn’t everything. A poetry reading is a rare thing these days; the oral tradition isn’t as strong as it once was*. Sound is only one of the senses that poets can harness to convey meaning. Sometimes the poet will use sound to convey theme and meaning. Sometimes the poet will use sound just to make the poem “pretty.” Sometimes the poet won’t use any sonic devices. Given the sheer volume of synonyms in the English language today (and it grows every day), poets can say the same thing (denotative meaning) in a bajillion different ways (connotative meaning). ON WHY A ROCK IS NOT A STONE. As I said in class, there is no denotative difference between rock and stone. They even have the same syllable-count and vowel. But one might sound rougher, one might sound smoother. I might want the bad guy to fall to his death on the rocks below, but save the stones for the young lovers to skip on a broad river at dusk. I might want the sibilance of stone in a poem about ghosts whispering in a cemetery, or I might want the reader’s mouth to be open at the end of the word as if she has swallowed a rock. Then again, maybe I just want a word that rhymes with alone. Imagine yourself a poet. Heck—don’t imagine—be a poet! Interpretation is creative; try to understand creative choices. *In the dominant culture of America. I’d argue that Anglo-American (white) culture is particularly deficient in oral culture. We tend to privilege texts and literacy over oral traditions. African-American (black) culture is light-years ahead of white culture when it comes to orality. Hip-hop, freestyle, battles, rap, and slam are all excellent examples of oral poetry today that is thriving today. Some very heavy alliteration (consonance) SONIC DEVICES with the plosive B. But does it suggest anything? Is it significant? I can’t make an intelligent argument for it at the moment. I’m sure a better scholar has come up with something brilliant for this, but I’m drawing a blank. As far as I can tell, this is just stylistic alliteration; it’s just pretty and prettiness— that vague quality—is something we expect Lying In a Hammock at William in a poem. I wouldn’t mention this on the A- Duffy's Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota level unless I had a significance for it. Do you think it’s significant? If so, tell me! I want it to Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly, be significant, but so far I got nuthin’. Asleep on the black trunk, Blowing like a leaf in green shadow. Down the ravine behind the empty house, Please say these lines out loud. The O your The cowbells follow one another mouth makes gets smaller and smaller, Into the distances of the afternoon. right? Like the sound of the bells getting To my right, smaller and smaller as they disappear into In a field of sunlight between two pines, the distance. The assonance suggests the The droppings of last year's horses sound of the bells receding. The tolling of Blaze up into golden stones. bells is a rather hackneyed reminder of time I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on. receding as well. The last line of the poem A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home. makes explicit what the sounds of the poem I have wasted my life. have been saying all along: Time is disappearing; a life is wasting. -- James Wright SONIC DEVICES Oysters Our shells clacked on the plates. My tongue was a filling estuary, My palate hung with starlight : As I tasted the salty Pleiades Orion dipped his foot into the water. Alive and violated, They lay on their beds of ice : Bivalves: the split bulb And philandering sigh of ocean. Over the Alps, packed deep in hay and snow, Millions of them ripped & shucked & scattered. The Romans hauled their oysters south to Rome : I saw damp panniers disgorge We had driven to that coast The frond-lipped, brine-stung Through flowers and limestone Glut of privilege And there we were, toasting friendship, Laying down a perfect memory And was angry that my trust could not repose In the cool of thatch and crockery. In the clear light, like poetry or freedom Leaning in from sea. I ate the day Deliberately, that its tang Might quicken me all into verb, pure verb. -- Seamus Heaney SONIC DEVICES Onomatopoeic: the sound the shells make on the plat sounds like “clack”—is it significant or merely stylistic? Is translating sense into language important to this poem? Let’s see… Oysters These internal rhymes and the “ng” consonant combination (there is a specific name for this, but you don’t have to know it--just describe it as best you can) push the tongue against the soft palate. Feel your soft Our shells clacked on the plates. palate (the back of the roof of your mouth) with your tongue (seriously, My tongue was a filling estuary, do it). The texture is like oysters. This poem has an aural as well as a tactile/sensual element to it: you textually experience oysters (to say My palate hung with starlight : nothing of which particular organ the imagery suggests…“frond- As I tasted the salty Pleiades lipped” oysters with ”split bulbs”…clean it up Seamus.) Orion dipped his foot into the water. Of course, the entire poem is about the sensual (almost sexual) experience of trying to enjoy oysters without the moment being ruined by the awareness of privilege and the guilt that inevitably conjures, Alive and violated, and finally the call to action that correcting that guilt demands. They lay on their beds of ice : Bivalves: the split bulb And philandering sigh of ocean. Over the Alps, packed deep in hay and snow, Millions of them ripped & shucked & scattered. The Romans hauled their oysters south to Rome : I saw damp panniers disgorge We had driven to that coast The frond-lipped, brine-stung Through flowers and limestone Glut of privilege And there we were, toasting friendship, Laying down a perfect memory And was angry that my trust could not repose In the cool of thatch and crockery. In the clear light, like poetry or freedom Leaning in from sea. I ate the day The only end rhyme in the poem should grab our attention. Rhyme makes Deliberately, that its tang things fun to say, but since the whole poem is not rhymed I bet this one is Might quicken me all into verb, pure verb. particularly significant—I bet it’s doing more (while being pretty funny). Rhyme suggests denotative similarities between the rhyming words by highlighting the sonic similarities or—in the event that the words are -- Seamus Heaney different—it highlights that difference. The human mind loves patterns. When we hear a rhyme, we want the rhyming words to be similar. When they’re not, it stands out to us. These words are denotatively different. But the rhyme suggests that there is a similarity: the perfection of this memory is a crock of $hit. To rhyme off it, the rhyme makes a mockery of his “perfect memory” because only the ignorant and privileged can enjoy oysters in a world that contains colonialism, violence, poverty, etc. SONIC DEVICES Oysters The sea is calm to-night. The tide is full, the moon lies fair The Sea of Faith Upon the straits; on the French coast the light Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand; Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled. Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay. But now I only hear Come to the window, sweet is the night-air! Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar, Only, from the long line of spray Retreating, to the breath Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land, Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear Listen! you hear the grating roar And naked shingles of the world. Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling, At their return, up the high strand, Ah, love, let us be true Begin, and cease, and then again begin, To one another! for the world, which seems With tremulous cadence slow, and bring To lie before us like a land of dreams, The eternal note of sadness in. So various, so beautiful, so new, Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, Sophocles long ago Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain; Heard it on the A gaean, and it brought And we are here as on a darkling plain Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Of human misery; we Where ignorant armies clash by night. Find also in the sound a thought, Hearing it by this distant northern sea. -- Matthew Arnold What is the difference between narrative and analysis? NARRATIVE: Quotation and significance. What the text means. ANALYSIS: Identification, effect and significance. Or, Identification of literary device, how the literary device works, why the author chose to use it (what it means in the passage). How the text means. What is the difference between narrative and analysis? NARRATIVE: Similarly in “Love in Time’s Despite,” time is personified as a “cold conqueror, unfeeling lover.” It “robs your deep heart’s treasuries as in play, / Trampling your tender harvests over and over.” This highlights the lack of mercy and remorse of time, as it takes what is dearest for the fun of it and completely destroys everything. Problem: This is close, but personification works many ways. Mickey Mouse is a different personification than Time in this poem. What specifically about the personification highlights the lack of mercy and remorse of time? What is Time personified as? What does it suggest? What specifically does this use of personification suggest? What is it personified as? ANALYSIS: Similarly in “Love in Time’s Despite,” time is personified as a “cold conqueror, unfeeling lover.” By describing time as an intimate partner, time’s destruction is made more horrible. In the first poem, we cannot be threatened by time because it is only acting according to nature—it must feed itself like an animal. But in the second poem, time is a personal threat rather than a natural threat. What is the difference between narrative and analysis? NARRATIVE: The use of diction such as “Can I help you?” and “I am engaged at the moment” shows us how the playwright establishes character. Problem: Diction is a single, specific word choice, or several examples of single, specific word choices; not an entire phrase. This is narration cleverly disguised as close analysis. The student tells us what the passage means and makes it look like analysis by mentioning diction. The student incorrectly identifies the device. He fails to describe the effect of the device and the significance is vague. What specifically establishes character? Which literary devices are used? How do the devices establish character? Which character? What is the character like? ANALYSIS: Marlene is portrayed as a professional and as such her tone is professional, pleasant and polite, but on the whole impersonal. She uses elevated diction like “engaged” to dismiss Mrs. Kidd while at the same time employing niceties like “Can I help you?” to appear as if she is willing to help her. She could just as easily say “I’m busy,” but of course that would not be professional. In contrast to Mrs. Kidd, Marlene embodies not the woman confidant, but the cool, clear-headed career woman. HOW DO I DISSECT A PLAY? For now, you only need to be able to dissect a passage of a play. Plays utilize space, movement and dialogue more than any of the other two forms. All we know about a character must be deduced from their dialogue and stage directions. Some playwrights will be very specific about how they want certain lines delivered. Others—like Shakespeare—won’t give us any hints, leaving much up to the interpretation of the actors and directors. What devices does a playwright use to characterize? Who is in the scene? Who does most of the talking? Are there any silent characters on stage? Silence is a huge component of plays. How close are the characters in terms of physical space? Where are they looking? Does their spatial arrangement or positioning imply anything about their relationship? Does the lighting emphasize anything in particular? What are the props? The actors share space with props—what might that signify? What do the costumes say about the character? What is the character willing to say to other characters? What is he only willing to say to himself (the audience, by way of monologue/soliloquy)? Do certain characters have a distinctive manner of speaking? What does it suggest? Where does the action occur? Is the climax onstage? Do the character’s actions and gestures suggest something about what the character says? What does their body language suggest? Is the play realistic? Is the dialogue natural, heightened or surreal? Is the action representational, symbolic, impressionistic, surreal or abstract? Are the characters flat or round? Are any of the characters mere vehicles or foils? Wouldn’t talking about issues raised regarding women in literature turn the essay into a narrative one instead of an analytical one? There are two components to the study of literature from the JC level up through doctoral programs. First and foremost you need an understanding of how texts work, which is close analysis (discussion how formal devices indicate meaning). That is the technical side of literary studies. But what is the point of literary analysis if all it yields is a discussion of how poems work? It can be quite fun, but it doesn't really serve much of a purpose in terms of advancing the lot of mankind or bettering the world. There really would be no larger purpose to the study of literature. Today literary studies has a strong element of cultural criticism alongside technical literary analysis. We're not only concerned with how texts mean, but we're also concerned with how texts construct (and are constructed by) ideas within our own culture. We can tell an awful lot about a society from the kinds of literary texts that society produces. They reflect cultural ideas (about women, about other cultures, about institutions like marriage and political authority), but they can also be written to change cultural ideas. I don't think we should be talking about how male writers back in the day were misogynists because misogyny was pervasive--it's not that certain male writers in particular really hated women, but the culture was patriarchal and sexist. I don't think we can hold individuals accountable for widespread prejudices--they are merely reflecting their culture. Someone like Virginia Woolf, however, writes not only to reflect culture, but to change it as well. Perhaps in an attempt to make the study of literature relevant to our socially conscious climate, we've started using literary texts as a way to discuss ideas about culture. This is called cultural criticism and when we look at women in literature, we're essentially looking at women in culture as represented in literature. We use texts to understand cultures (historical, foreign, etc.) You need to do both--textual analysis and cultural criticism. You're a literary critic and a sociologist in this class. Okay. Do we need to link every point back to Women in Literature? Can we just link our points collectively back to Women in Literature in the conclusion? As with the comparison and contrast, there are several ways to work your discussion of theme (women) into your close analysis. You could: A. Close analyze the first two thirds or three fourths, and discuss women in the remainder. B. Close analyze and insert your discussion of women where it is relevant to your literary devices (ie where the step 3/significance pertains to women's issues). C. Let your thematic points about women be your topic sentences and prove your points using literary devices. MOE has been very clear that they're more concerned with your ability to analyze the texts in a sophisticated manner (close analysis) than in how you treat the themes, so no matter what you do, make sure the bulk of your paper (2/3 or 3/4) is close analysis. If you end up going with option A (analyzing the text and commenting on women in literature separately), I would definitely put the close analysis up front, so that by the time the examiners gets to your discussion of themes, you will have already proven that you can close analyze and that you're not just ranting about women in society. In any event, make sure there is some discussion of women in your introduction and conclusion. Could you name a few positive things related to Women in Literature? You mean, a few positive things relating to women, right? I mean, we’re always dealing with literature, and literature basically deals with life—The Human Experience—so really we just want some positive things relating to women. Sure. Women have a long and rich tradition of autobiographical writing and journal keeping. In fact, as scholarship doubts the objectivity of the grand histories usually authored by men (the ones that won wars; history rarely remembers the losers), diaries kept by women become more popular. Women’s diaries have provided a better idea of what certain eras were like for the majority of people. They give us access to the daily lives of normal people across time Women were also huge patrons of the arts. Lady Mary, the Countess of Pembroke, Queen Elizabeth, Queen Anne, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Magdalene Herbert, etc—all these women invested their time and money in the arts and are largely responsible for the English Renaissance (Eleanor of Aquitaine was earlier, and Frenchier, though she was married to both the Kings of England and France—what a swinger). Some of the foundational texts of English literature were authored by women. The lais of Marie de France, The Book of Margery Kempe, “The Wife’s Lament,” and the revelations of Julian of Norwich come to mind. Later, in the 17th Century, a woman was the first person published in North America (Anne Bradstreet). Aphra Behn was wildly successful and managed to survive on her pen alone (and she was a spy for the crown! Also, check out here reply to Lord Rochester, “The Imperfect Enjoyment”—it’s scandelous). I can’t relate literary devices to effect to significance! What is the difference between effect and significance? Literary: having to do with literature Device: a conventional practice or means used to achieve a particular effect; a piece of equipment or a mechanism designed to serve a special purpose or perform a special function A Literary device is a tool that produces an effect in a piece of literature. It serves a special purpose or function—to make you think a certain way about the text. The effect is the way readers respond to the device. The significance is how the reader’s response impacts his understanding of the passage. Here are two ways to think about close analysis: 1. Quote passage and Identify the 1. WHAT is the literary device literary device used in the quoted passage? 2. Explain the effect or suggestion 2. HOW does the literary device of the literary device work? 3. Describe the significance of the 3. WHY did the author choose to effect/suggestion in the use this particular literary device? passage/context of WIL What was his intention?
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