A Well Formed Argument?
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A Well Formed Argument?

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An emergency 'first aid' slideshow used in an attempt to steer my current A level class back towards the Assessment Objectives for their imminent coursework essay in Literature this year! It's ...

An emergency 'first aid' slideshow used in an attempt to steer my current A level class back towards the Assessment Objectives for their imminent coursework essay in Literature this year! It's specific to the texts we are studying (Atwood / Ishiguro) but bits may still be useful to other groups!

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A Well Formed Argument? A Well Formed Argument? Presentation Transcript

  • First Aid for Coursework
    Lack of argument
    Weak vocabulary
    Missing punctuation
    No conclusion
  • Be clear what question you are answering
  • ‘Dystopic fiction often relies upon setting to illuminate and reinforce the horrors of the vision presented.’How far and in what ways, in your opinion, do two novels you have studied, support or refute this statement?
  • ‘Dystopic fiction often relies upon setting to illuminate and reinforce the horrors of the vision presented.’How far and in what ways, in your opinion, do two novels you have studied, support or refute this statement?
  • ‘Dystopic fiction often relies upon setting to illuminate and reinforce the horrors of the vision presented.’How far and in what ways, in your opinion, do two novels you have studied, support or refute this statement?
  • ‘Dystopic fiction often relies upon setting to illuminate and reinforce the horrors of the vision presented.’How far and in what ways, in your opinion, do two novels you have studied, support or refute this statement?
  • ‘Dystopic fiction often relies upon setting to illuminate and reinforce the horrors of the vision presented.’How far and in what ways, in your opinion, do two novels you have studied, support or refute this statement?
  • ‘Dystopic fiction often relies upon setting to illuminate and reinforce the horrors of the vision presented.’How far and in what ways, in your opinion, do two novels you have studied, support or refute this statement?
  • In other words…
  • Dystopicfictionuses settingsto illuminate and reinforce the horrorsdepicted. How and In what waysdo you think this is true or false?
  • Now ask questions of the question this will help you to identify the material out of which your argument will emerge
  • Doesdystopic fiction rely upon setting to reinforce the horror presented?
    Are the horrors illuminated and reinforced in both essays through their use of setting? How?
    Are the texts’ treatment of settings similar or different? How?
    What have other readers said about the settings in the novels? (AO3)
    How has the context in which the texts were created come to have an influence on the presentation of settings in the novels? (AO4)
  • Now research the primary texts to find evidence to support your ideas and opinions
  • This in turn must be supported by secondary research (essays, other books, reviews etc.)
  • All of this research must be brought together in a detailed plan that follows a logical order in order to present your ideas and conclusion
  • The plan will consist of a series of focused ideas (which will become topic sentences that begin each paragraph)The relevant AO3 / AO4 material will be spliced in where relevant to reinforce those points
  • As the essay is written this plan must be converted into a well composed essay using-Controlled sentence structureTechnical accuracyTerminology appropriate to literary studiesArgument discourse markers (usually to connect ideas between paragraphs)
  • If it is well crafted (AO1) a reader should be able to backward engineer your essay and arrive at your original plan!
  • Using the essay I am about to give you, I want you to ‘turn the clock back’ and produce the plan you think led to this argument…
  • An Essay plan in need of First Aid!
    P1
    The arrangement of space is vital to dystopic literature
    Both novels rely on spaces to define their respective worlds
    Kaplan quotation (?)
  • Dystopicfictionuses settingsto illuminate and reinforce the horrorsdepicted. How / In what ways do you think this is true or false?
  • P2
    Atwood compartmentalises spaces
    The shops / Prayer Scrolls are examples of this
    Orwell also does this in ‘1984’
    In contrast Hailsham students seem to have spatial freedom
    ‘A Clockwork Orange’ shows how human machines aren’t machines and rebel when restricted (?)
  • P3
    Atwood presents a lack of personal space and the sense of always being watched
    C.S Lewis quotation (?)
    Ishiguro’s characters also suffer from having a lack of personal spaces which shows they are controlled
  • P4
    ‘Never Let Me Go’ is divided into 3 sections which causes us to ‘settle in’ with Kathy (?)
    ‘Cruelty is bad’ quotation (?)
    ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ presents fragmented scenes that are non-chronological (?)
  • P5
    The settings in Atwood’s novel are aesthetically pleasing but at the same time reflect the regime. (?)
  • P6
    Both novels contain ‘a type of pressure’ (?)
    Ishiguro’s novel is agoraphobic while Atwood’s novel is claustrophobic (?)
  • Dystopicfictionuses settingsto illuminate and reinforce the horrorsdepicted. How / In what ways do you think this is true or false?
  • Remembering the AO weightings, what Band would this essay currently be awarded?AO1 – 5 marksAO2 – 0 marksAO3 – 10 marksAO4 – 10 marks
  • The Essay Repair Kit!
    Here is a well formed skeletal structure for the same essay plan – the AO3/4 material is yet to be included
    Remember, the question is…
  • Dystopicfictionuses settingsto illuminate and reinforce the horrorsdepicted. How / In what ways do you think this is true or false?
  • P1Setting IS important in illuminating and reinforcing the horrors of dystopic literature although Atwood and Ishiguro’s treatment of setting is very different, yielding very different tones and modes of feeling.
    P2Atwood’s presentation of Gilead focuses on a political and cultural landscape and so the range of settings is broader in its scope than Ishiguro’s novel which is an intimate study of the relationship between three central characters.
  • P3That having been said, Gilead is composed of compartmentalised spaces that are determined by the rigid roles imposed upon the occupants which generates a claustrophobic tone to the text.
    In contrast Ishiguro’s characters operate in spaces with no clearly defined or personalised spaces which become looser as the novel continues. The result of this is diametrically opposed to Atwood’s treatment – ‘Never Let Me Go’ is agoraphobic and the characters are consequently vulnerable and have nowhere to hide.
  • P4The settings arguably reflect the biographical and cultural influences of the novels. Both Gilead and the world of the Hailsham students would be familiar to their respective target audiences although at the same time they are disconcertingly altered – they become palimpsests and thus serve to reinforce dystopic literature’s purpose to warn and force us to reflect on our own cultural experience.
  • P5The authors’ treatment of setting is inseparable from their use of narrative perspective and chronological structure. It becomes apparent that memory and the act of retelling serve to intensify and reinforce the sense of claustrophobia and agoraphobia established in the novels.
  • P6In both cases the novels present ambiguous endings to their novels, making use of appropriately shaped settings. Atwood avoids a reductive conclusion to Offred’s tale with the uncertainty of the black van (before tearing us out of time and place in the ‘Historical Notes’) while Kathy is left by the roadside in tears before driving off and leaving us there to watch her vanish on the horizon beside the tree strewn with the abandoned detritus of our disposable society.
    In both cases the final settings serve to leave the reader with a responsibility to continue to reflect on events – an essential quality of dystopic fiction.
  • P7In conclusion, the novels DO reinforce and illuminate the dystopic visions presented by their respective authors. Rather than simply provide a physical environment in which the plot can unfold, the locations come to embody the agenda of the forces working against the protagonists; Gilead’s ever tightening grip of control and the learned helplessness of the clones in the light of the faceless culture of ‘donation’ are ever present.
    Offred and Kathy cannot escape because Gilead and the cloning programme infuse the environment they inhabit. This sense of inescapability is essential to the genre in which the novels reside and it invites us to consider anew the ways in which we too are being shaped by social and cultural forces which are at once invisible and yet are apparent in the very structures we see all around us.
  • Moving from Plan to fully developed argument
  • Specific textual examples to support the points made
    The use of critical opinions out of which I can make clear my OWN position
    A secure appreciation of the way in which both texts reflect the context in which they were created and to whom they speak
  • Here are 3 versions of the same extract from my final essay – using the marking criteria. Can you decide which would receive the best grade and why?
    Here is the point I have used to illustrate-
  • P4The settings arguably reflect the biographical and cultural influences of the novels. Both Gilead and the world of the Hailsham students would be familiar to their respective target audiences although at the same time they are disconcertingly altered – they become palimpsests and thus serve to reinforce dystopic literature’s purpose to warn and force us to reflect on our own cultural experience.
  • Never let me go is set in Britain of now but its different whereas the handmaids’ tail isn’t quite as familiar because its set in the future but its still in Massachussets which is where Atwood was from when she wrote the book. Ishiguro was originally from Japan but he moved to England when he was just 5 witch maybe helps him to see things in a different way. Both books settings are likely to be known by their readers and so they can connect to what is happening in the stories unlike in scifi where its harder to to see the point that the writer is trying to make. Both authors are basically saying that these dystopic things could happen if you are not careful. In this way they are like palimpsests because you can see the world you live in but at the same time its not the world you live in and so it throws you off and makes you unsure. Like Wittgenstein says – “the aspect of things that are most important for us are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity.”
  • Both authors use settings which contain biographical details and would be familiar to their audience. Atwood says that ‘‘It’s set, not in a Britain-yet-to-come, but in a Britain-off-to-the-side.’’, when talking about ‘Never Let Me Go’. The horrors of the book are horrible because its just like Britain now. And Atwood puts Gilead in Massachusetts, which is also important and places like the wall and the library are not what they would be for readers who lived there when the book was written and so it’s thought provoking. The writers use familiar settings because they remind the readers that this could happen to them and that’s typical of dystopic literature which is designed to warn us of what might happen if we don’t watch out.
  • Furthermore, it is significant that both authors have elected to present their novels in settings which are at once both biographically pertinent and at the same time likely to reflect the every day landscape of their respective target audience. Indeed Atwood observes of Ishiguro’s text that ‘‘It’s set, not in a Britain-yet-to-come, but in a Britain-off-to-the-side.’’, acknowledging that much of its resonance comes from its familiarity as a contemporary landscape. The horrors of the cloning project are made all the more terrifying because the culture is otherwise closely aligned to Britain at the turn of the new millennium. Kathy and her friends visit a Woolworths in Cromer, stand outside a typical office block in search of Ruth’s ‘possible’ and search for the lost tape in an all too familiar charity shop – the world of the clones is haunting because it is our world. Likewise, Atwood roots the dystopic regime of Gilead in the heart of Harvard Massachusetts, her own university home town, and the series of palimpsest locations including the terrifying ‘wall’ and the library, once symbols of education and liberalism, become distorted into tools of propaganda and control. It is essential that dystopic literature should not be dismissed as implausible Science Fiction and so both authors force the reader to be at once both oriented and disoriented within the worlds presented, yielding an uncomfortable tension that is arguably mimetic.
  • So does your essay present a well formed argument or is it in need of First Aid?Is it AO3 /AO4 focused?DO YOU ANSWER THE QUESTION?