Distinctively Visual Essay Douglas Stewart

Modules. They’re confusing, fast paced and a little tricky to get a grasp of until you’ve actually done them – which can make them pretty daunting.

This collection of Understanding HSC Standard English articles aims to make them a little easier to understand and a lot easier to complete as you work through your HSC year. In them we’ll break down exactly what each module looks at, including how each elective within Modules A and C differ, and show you what you need to know to tackles these topics.

You can find the rest of the articles over at our Standard English Modules Megapost, but for now keep reading to learn more about Module A, Elective 2: Distinctively Visual!

Step 1: Understanding modules

 

You’ve probably come to this article because you’re probably wondering what on earth Distinctive Voices are all about. What is it? What is ‘distinctively visual’? What makes something visually distinct? How exactly does something which is visually distinct help me to experience through language? These are all legitimate questions!

In order to understand modules, you need to break down what it is and how you interact with your texts.

When it comes to understanding modules there are four key things to consider, which I like to call the Four T’s.Topic, Time, Texts and Tests.

Topic

Modules are essentially mini areas of study (with Discovery being your actual Area of Study). They’re shorter courses focussed on a specific concept or idea related to the study of English and/or English literature and always focus on a specific theme or topic. Their aim is to get you to think about English and texts in different ways and then respond to the ideas presented in essays that you’ll write both for class marks and in Paper 2 of your HSC English Exam.

Modules A and C have two electives each, meaning that your teachers will choose what sub-topic you study within that module. You don’t have to worry too much about electives – just make sure that you know which one you’re studying come exam time so you don’t end up answering the question for a different elective!

Simplified, this means that each module is a new topic, and each of these topics looks at a different idea about English and English texts.

Time

As mentioned before your modules are shorter courses than your Area of Study.

While you spend 45 hours on Discovery, you spend a total of 75 hours on all three modules – meaning 25 hours per module. That’s almost half as much time as what you spend on discovery, making the study a lot more fast-paced and self-driven, so if you don’t keep up you could fall behind! But don’t worry; that’s what we’re here for – try these articles on making effective to-do lists and getting started on study notes to get ahead.

Texts

For each module you’ll be given at least one prescribed text that you’ll have to read pretty quickly – check out this article to make the most of reading it. Teachers are given a list of possible prescribed texts for each module/elective and then choose which one they will teach you, so you don’t get a say in what text you study.

Over the course of all three modules you’ll end up studying one of each text type. That means that you could end up being prescribed a film and novel for Module A, a set of speeches for Module B and a play for Module C (that’s what I got!). The aim of this is to make sure you learn how to interpret and analyse a whole bunch of different text types, so you won’t be able to slack off on any specific one! As you work through the modules you’ll have to adapt and learn how to write about and analyse each text type specifically – check out these articles for key techniques for written texts and visual texts.

Tests

Your HSC English Exam Paper 2 is made up entirely of modules-based questions and will end up asking you to write three essays – one on each of the modules you studied. The questions are usually pretty broad because they have to apply to all of the possible prescribed texts within the module and elective, so they tend to focus more on themes and ideas about the module than the text itself.

We’ll look more at marking criteria later, but the key thing to remember about the exam is that it wants you to answer the question with your module in mind! Make sure to always link your arguments back to the question and focus on themes that are important to not only the text but the module as well. You also have to remember to use sophisticated language, analyse the specific text type and present complex arguments, but I’m pretty sure that much is obvious by now!

Step 2: Breaking Down Module A

In order to tackle modules, you need to know what module you’re studying, as what you’re studying might actually be different to what your friends are studying. If you’re here, you’re here for the first of the two electives from Module A: Experience Through Language, and that elective is Distinctively Visual. Thus, you need to understand what Experience Through Language is in order for you to understand what it’s all about.

The best way to do this is by checking out the actual module and elective description on the BOSTES Website.

Let’s start by looking at the information we’re given about Module A.

Now let’s break that down into key words.

Awareness of language: You knowing what a composer is doing with their words and the effect it is having.

How our perceptions:  The way in which we regard, understand or interpret something.

Relationships: The way in which two or more things, people or groups regard and behave towards and interact with each other.

Others: Individuals who are not ourselves.

World: Human and social interaction based upon the differing considerations of context, environment, location, individuals, culture, religion, spirituality.

Shaped: How this is created, developed and nourished.

Written: Texts designed to be in the written and read form, such as a poem, short story or essay.

Spoken: Texts designed to be in the spoken form, such as a speech or song.

VisualTexts designed to be in the visual form, such as a painting, stage performance or film.

When you read it as it is, what they’re looking for can be very convoluted, which is why sometimes it is best for you to know it in your everyday language. That’s why I’ve written it below:

This module requires students to explore uses of a particular aspect of language. It develops students’ knowledge of the composer’s intention in what they’re saying and the effect it is having, and helps them to understand the way in which we regard, understand or interpret the way in which two or more things, people or groups interact with each other, individuals around them and their social interaction with different considerations. These things will be shaped by language in texts designed to be read, listened to, or visualised. 

I know – that second sentence is huge! But break it down into bits and pieces and it becomes a lot easier to understand, especially now that it’s not in the lingo with which the Board of Studies loves to confuse us all.

Step 3: Breaking Down Elective 1 (Distinctively Visual)

Now that we have the focus of our study – Experience Through Language – broken down, now we have to understand how we’re supposed to experience through language, and that is through the overarching study of Distinctive Voices. But just like breaking down Modules, what do they mean by Distinctive Voices?

Let’s start off once more with what they say about Distinctive Voices:

And once again, let’s have a look at it with the key words to clarify the important parts:

Now let’s break that one down as well to help you understand it.

 

Explore: The markers want you to identify different ways in which ideas are shown in texts. For the example question you’ll want to choose 2-3 different ideas to explore, making sure there’s some major variation. E.g. “The text explores discovery as a beginning, as well as discovery of betrayals.”

Images we see: Note that this means ‘in texts’, so this could be the presentation of images like pictures, drawings or graphs what are included in texts.

Images we visualise: This means how the composer has gotten us to draw upon our imagination to visualise an image. Think about it, what does your perception of Harry Potter look like in comparison to the Daniel Radcliffe-Harry Potter?

Forms: This indicates the configuration of a text – whether it is a speech, film or poem plays a huge difference in which a concept can be visualise. You’d then ask yourself, how does a text being a poem effectively visualise a concept over it being a film?

Features: Features of a text indicates the characteristics of the text. Composers will often include distinctive attributes and characteristics which are unique to that text against others.

Language: The language of a text is the style of communication used in a text. This can be visual (such as the use of colour), or it can be literary (such as a simile or onomatopoeia)

Affect interpretation: How does the use of particular forms, features or language alter the way in which one regards and understands something.

Shape meaning: This relates to the values and opinions we hold as individuals or as a group.

And in layman’s terms:

In their responding and composing, students consider identify the different ways in which images that can be seen in a text and/or imagined by the viewer are created. Students consider how the configuration, characteristics and attributes, and the communication methods of different texts create these images, the one in which one regards and understands and how they shape values and opinions. 

In order to achieve this, the syllabus requires you to choose one of the following texts listed below to study this:

Prose fiction

  • ‘The Drover’s Wife’, ‘The Bush Undertaker’, ‘In a Dry Season’, ‘The Loaded Dog’ by Henry Lawson
  • Vertigo by Amanda Lohrey.

Drama

  • The Shoe-Horn Sonata by John Misto

Poetry

  • ‘‘Lady Feeding the Cats’, ‘Wombat’, ‘The Snow-Gum’, ‘Nesting Time’, ‘The Moths’, ‘The Fireflies’, ‘Waterlily’, ‘Cave Painting’ by Douglas Stewart

Film

  • Lee, Ang, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • Tykwer, Tom, Run Lola Run

For the best part of the next few months, one of the above selected texts will be your favourite thing (note: sarcasm). The thing is that usually if you get to choose what you’re doing, you’re more inclined to enjoy what you’re studying when you beat it to death with a stick from all the analysis you’ll be doing. Unfortunately, you’re not given that opportunity and it’s likely that if you’re not conscientious with your studies, you might find yourself asking ‘wait, what part of the text is that?’ when they reference a line in class.

However, it’s not all that boring – you do get to choose your own text to study along side the selected text. However, as much as you love Harry Potter or the Hunger Games, they’re probably not suitable for your studies. To know more about how to select these texts, make sure you read these two articles on the do’s and don’t’s of choosing a related text and thus the easy 3 steps on how to find a related text. 

It’s your duty to make sure you actually read the text. It’s you against a few thousand others, and everyone else will have the same copy of SparkNotes as you do, so maybe don’t just rely on SparkNotes, but the brain you know works pretty well when it needs to.

In order to familiarise yourself with your text, these ten questions will help you to better understand how the text came to be and why:

  1. Who was the author, what was their life like?
  2. How has this influenced the text’s content and perspective?
  3. When and where was the text made?
  4. What was society like at the time?
  5. What culture was it made in? (Western culture counts)
  6. How have these influenced the text and its perspective?
  7. What perspectives or points of view does the text present?
  8. What language choices are made to show this?
  9. How does the content and perspective of this text relate to the other prescribed text? (compare/contrast)
  10. How do you think the original audience felt about the text vs. how you feel about it?

All texts are written with a purpose, and it’s typically something about the author’s life and experience, and events in the world around them which gets them writing. That’s why getting into their head is a good idea, and  by answering these questions, you’ll have a little bit more of an idea about who they were.

Are Your English Notes Up to Scratch?

If you need reliable notes or simply want to check your notes are right, take a look at HSC-Notes.com.

Their English notes are crafted by the 99+ ATAR Club and provide concise answers to the HSC Syllabus dot points with what you need to know for your exams. Diagrams, mind maps, tables, dot points, paragraphs, sources are included to aid your learning.

With these notes you can spend less time rewriting your textbook and worrying about whether your notes answer the syllabus dot points correctly and spend more time learning and practicing your skills knowing your notes are accurate and concise.

Head on over to HSC-Notes to get your HSC subject notes now

Step 4: Knowing Your Criteria

 

As much as students love to say that teachers aren’t marking to the criteria, it might come as a shock to some, but they actually do – especially when the HSC is based entirely upon sets of criteria.

If your maths teacher asks you ‘What is 12 + 17?’, you probably wouldn’t say, ‘Actually, I’m #TeamCaptainAmerica. I think Iron Man is overrated’ because it has nothing to do with what the teacher is asking.

A criteria gives you exactly what they are asking for, which is what you’ll need to then give them a relevant answer. This is by far the easiest thing you can do to get your Band 6. You’ll have probably seen these before:

It’s important to know the key words in the criteria, as this is the most fundamental part of understanding what they are looking for in your response:

Compares effectively: Highlighting the similarities and different in a thorough and analytical manner. This means that you need to delve into the thorough details of the text, selecting and discussing central themes and issues to discuss at length.

Variety of perspectives: Not merely looking at one point of view, but how distinctive voices offer multiple points of view about the world in one both your prescribed/selected text and the related text of your choosing.

Effective response: Just because you provide a response, doesn’t mean it’s effective. This essentially means that you need to have made your response based on relevantdetailed textual knowledge. What they are asking you to do is to know your text, the themes, language and components, and discuss it with relevance to the question they will be asking you in the exam. NOTE: This is NOT merely a knowledge dump!

Organised: This means to give a structured response. Imagine writing your conclusion before your thesis statement, or presenting your weakest point first. It’s a trainwreck waiting to happen. This means that your arguments are written in a clear and concise manner which can easily be read and understood.

Develops: This one relates to the question of how you got to that point of view. Places like SparkNotes offer you a position, but it does not often offer you how they got there and what elements were important in creating that conclusion. This means that when you offer your point of view, you can show how you got there.

Expresses… effectively: Are you writing in a way that anyone can understand what you’re trying to express? Are you conveying your message clearly and concisely, or are you repeating yourself and using overcomplicated words that you don’t quite know how to use? Your answers need to be structured and organised, and communicate your ideas relating to the Module and texts clearly.

Language appropriate: This means language relevant to what you have studied. This doesn’t necessarily mean having to use big words or complex language – it means using language appropriate to the topic of Standard English. For example, instead of ‘the time period which the author lived during’,  ‘the author’s historical context’ would more appropriate.

Audience, purpose and form: Who is the intended audience of your response? What is the argument  you are making? What kind of response is it? These are the three questions which will guide how you write your response, as your audience is obviously the HSC Markers, you are writing it to express your position in response to the question, and your response will depend on the HSC verb which has been used in a question. For example, if you were being asked to ‘Compare and contrast’, you wouldn’t give simply list your response.

Each school will have a different essay criteria, but now you know exactly how to break down a criteria, and what some of the key words they frequently use actually mean.

Understanding the criteria is just as important as breaking down the question, and to know how you can effectively break down any English question, you had better head over here to read exactly how to do it so that you know exactly how to answer the questions being asked.

Step 5: Start Writing

 

It’s easier said than done!

As you go through your text, you will be deconstructing different components and themes which make that text unique in Experience Through Language.

But nobody becomes good at essay writing overnight and no first draft is ever a masterpiece. Essay writers like George Orwell often wrote hundreds of pages which would eventually be reduced to just a few in the composition process. It all comes down to frequent and self-reflective practice. This means that you not only practice writing, but often and with awareness of your strengths and weaknesses.

For this example, I will guide you through a simple paragraph with the following question:

‘Distinctive images offer a variety of perspectives on the world.’ Compare how this is achieved in your prescribed text and ONE other related text of your own choosing.

For this, I will be using the films Run Lola Runand Minority Report. Want to know why I’m doing this? Because you should never use the same text type as your related text as it limits how much you can analyse, and leads markers to believe that you’re being a *little bit lazy*. Despite the fact that Minority Report is a wonderful related text due to the similarity of themes to Run Lola Run, it is still a film.

S.T.E.E.L.

S.T.E.E.L is one of the most effective essay scaffolds as it is easy to prepare, collate and compose a response. Within it, we have two styes; AABB and ABAB:

  • A refers to a paragraph about the first text;
  • B refers to a paragraph about the second text.

Generally ABAB works better, as it has a smoother flow, shows better integration and allows you to compare and contrast the texts as you go, keeping your essay balanced.

Statement

Refer back to the central focus of the discussion: ‘Distinctive images offer a variety of perspectives on the world.’

When I review both Run Lola Run and Minority Report, the very first thing that comes to my head is the immediate tension of free will vs. determinism. Free will is the belief that we are able to have some choice in how we act which alter the outcome of the event. Conversely, determinism finds that for every event, we are pre-destined to reach a conclusion determined by our prior actions (also known as cause-and-effect)

As it is a compare question, I am going to frame my argument with the similarities of this position.

Run Lola Run and Minority Report explore the tension between the philosophical positions of free will vs. determinism through the ways in which the distinctively visual qualities of the films give meaning.

The focus of my statement encompasses both my central theme of free will vs. determination and addresses that both texts are texts which utilise the distinctively visual.

To give some background, Tom Tykwer was born in West Germany during the Cold War. This imposed a ‘what if?’ question early in his youth through a divided Germany: how could two sides of the same city have the same starting point at the conclusion of World War II, but end up so drastically different? This serves as the basis of the ‘what if?’ question posed in Run Lola Run. 

Minority Report, based off of the Phillip K. Dick novel of the same name, is a continuation of Phillip K. Dick’s Cold War anxiety. A fundamental part of the Cold War was the increase of surveillance and psychological manipulation. His most profound concern was the German Stasi (intelligence agency) and their use of ‘Zersetzung’, which saw its victims subversively manipulated according to the will of the Stasi.

 

Technique + Example

This is the part where you have to bring in your visual analysis of your texts. You won’t be simply listing these; instead, you’ll be introducing the ways in which the composer uses techniques in the texts and what it does to give meaning. You’ll also be integrating your quotes and examples at the same time in order to give a nice, polished answer.

The philosophical discussion of free will vs. determination is often circular in nature due to questioning of cause-and-effect. In order to demonstrate this, Tykwer spirals recur throughout Run Lola Run to demonstrate both questions, to which there is no answer. There are many instances of spirals throughout the film, but it is most profound when the viewer looks upon Lola after receiving the telephone call, where the camera, level with Lola’s eye level, circles around her with fleeting images of interactions she will make on the way to her run, and of whom her interactions have a butterfly effect. This circular theme is also utilised by Steven Spielberg in Minority Report. Upon the drop of the predictive sphere from the Precogs, the sphere is seen to spin in its place endlessly, and does not stop until there is an intervention by Anderton when he picks it up. The name is unseen by the viewer as the ball continues to spin in its place. Once picked up by Anderton, it is placed into a cradle where it is still, and Anderton begins to wind through the visions of the Precogs utilising a circular hand movement to wind the visions forward and backwards.

 

Effect

This part then answers, ‘What exactly did these things do to give the text meaning?’, and in this particular case, how do they show the exploration of loss during war? Essentially, you are to answer why you included them.

The use of spirals in both Run Lola Run and Minority Report assert the inconclusive question of free will vs. determinism. The images of individuals with whom Lola interacts appear insignificant as the camera spirals around her, but ultimately play significant roles providing her with the many cause-and-effect options offered to her on each run. As such, Tykwer uses the spiral in this scene to express the dilemma which Lola faces when she comes across each individual. Use of the motif provides a visual presentation of the endless options prior to the run in order to emphasise whether or not her actions towards certain individuals determine the ultimate outcome. Similarly, Anderton’s intervention in the spinning sphere resembles that he, as a Precrime officer, determines the fate of the alleged criminal. Spielberg’s choice not to reveal the individual’s name until it is picked up by Anderton emphasise the question as to whether an individual truly has control over their destiny, and providing the tentative answer that an individual’s life is predetermined.Spielberg imposes an additional display of determinism as the camera angles upwards with Anderton looking down upon the sphere, producing an almost omnipotent god-like image of Anderton against the individual. Upon discovering that he, himself, is accused of a crime, Anderton picks up his own sphere, indicating that there is a possibility of free will. At this point, Spielberg alters the camera angle to see both Anderton’s sphere and Anderton at equal eye-level, allowing the tension between the competing concepts to surface.

Link

In this section, you will need to link the two texts together in relation to your overarching statement. This is what seals the deal and brings them all back together.

Tykwer’s use of spirals ultimately illustrates the endless possibilities faced by Lola in exploring the cause-and-effect of her available choices. The repeated motif of spirals continues to question the importance of the tension between the concepts, just as Spielberg applies spiralling as a representation of an individual’s fate. This distinctively visual recurring motif throughout both texts provides an in-depth exploration into the inconclusive philosophical tension between free will and determinism.

Voici et voilà! There’s 1/4 of an essay, without an introduction, 2-3 more paragraphs and a conclusion.

If we put all the sections together, you’ll see that it is a very large and chunky paragraph, but in fact, even as I write it, I had to write and rewrite sections in order to ensure that it is clear and cohesive. What you’ll notice is that I constantly refer back to the focus of the discussion: the difference between communal and personal loss, and thus, remain centred on the overarching essay focus: Distinctive images offer a variety of perspectives on the world. 

Give it a try, and let us know how you go!

Need a Hand Writing Your Notes?

If you need reliable notes or simply want to check your notes are right, take a look at HSC-Notes.com.

Their English notes are crafted by the 99+ ATAR Club and provide concise answers to the HSC Syllabus dot points with what you need to know for your exams. Diagrams, mind maps, tables, dot points, paragraphs, sources are included to aid your learning.

Head on over to HSC-Notes to get your HSC subject notes now

Have a question for us? 

Flick us a message on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/artofsmart/), give us a call on 1300 267 888, or email us on info@artofsmart.com.au.


Elizabeth Goh isn’t a fan of writing about herself in third person, even if she loves writing. Elizabeth decided she didn’t get enough English, History or Legal Studies at Abbotsleigh School for her own HSC in 2010 so she came back to help others survive it with Art of Smart Education. She’s since done a mish-mash of things with her life which includes studying a Bachelor of Arts (Politics and International Relations) with a Bachelor of Laws at Macquarie University, working for NSW Parliament, and exploring antique shops to find a working Remington Noiseless typewriter.

Elizabeth is on academic exchange at the University of Vienna, Austria until March 2016.

 

 

You have Successfully Subscribed!

...Defining the Visual Arts Alina Lopez ARTS/230CA October 20, 2014 Milinda Jaffe-Bork Defining Visual Arts Trying to imagine the world without art is like trying to imagine the world without air. Most people don’t realize how much they rely on the importance of art in their everyday life. Visual arts consist of much more than a painting at a museum. “The visual arts can help us give meaning to what seems meaningless and help us recapture feelings and experiences that we have once had or would like to have again” (Jewell, 2002, Chapter 10, Visual Arts—Feast For the Eyes). Visual art styles can be endless.” Visual arts are usually perceived as the arts you can see with your eyes.”(Dictionary.com, 2013) Some types of visual arts are photography, painting, drawing, sculpture, graphic design, filmmaking, interior design, electronic or technology based art, weaving or even carving. The list can go on and on. . From this abundance of choices artist can create many different works of art. Just are there are many different forms of art, there are artist of all shape and kind, each with their own vision. No two artists see things exactly the same. Though art can be anything, not just anyone can be an artist. It is through art that we express our emotions, intellect, and ideas. All types of art basically tell a story. Although there are many kinds of art...

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *