Bring on the Promos

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Format

3 hours, 3 questions. Each section in the paper carries equal marks. We generally recommend you scan through all three sections once you are permitted to do so and start with the unseen. If you are flummoxed by the unseen, move onto the set texts and you can return to the unseen in a calmer state of mind. 😉

  • Section A – Paper 3 Unseen, choose either (a) drama excerpt or (b) poem.
  • Section B – Paper 3 Woman in Mind, choose one essay question from two.
  • Section C – Paper 1 Measure for Measure, choose either (a) essay or (b) passage-based question.

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Develop This!

Running dry on ideas? Only see “repetition” and the tone in one character’s lines? Really can’t find anything to say?

To develop your analysis of one point, you can think about the progression of a character / persona’s tone or effects — how the tone intensifies or shifts — while close-analysing the “key points” or “turning points” in the progression.

This close analysis means you have to: (i) explore the quotations in finer detail, looking out for nuances / minute differences (e.g. the reference to “Dad”); and (ii) explore the effects in finer detail, looking at how “desperation” is “not-so-desperate” early on, or how a patient appeal can escalate towards a firm demand.

Here are a couple of figures that might help, especially if you’re in the graph-plotting crowd. Evidently, I am too. 😉 Examples below are taken from the Proof (2000) extract in Paper 3 CA4.

Developing Your Analysis

Individuation

Masks

In this follow-up post to Selfisms, we explore the concept of defence mechanisms and the projected self in more detail, via John Yorke’s study of Character Individuation in Into the Woods: a Five Act Journey into Story.

Characters create facades to mask the things they fear inside – we all do. A character’s facade, then, is an outer manifestation of an inner conflict. Faced with extreme stress some characters will laugh, others will cry, some will intellectualise, some may punish others. It’s a cornerstone of characterisation, but it’s a centrepiece of psychological theory too.

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Their Song

TheirSong

Having started on the significance of Albee’s title in our introductory lecture ‘The Wolves Amongst Us’, a return to the title – or more precisely Martha and George’s song – would help us consolidate what we have learned about the protagonists’ relationship, as well as their internal struggles. Some confusion about the the song has also arisen, partly because ‘Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf’ (not to be confused with the title Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) is variously sung by Martha and George in different contexts for different purposes. These intentions stand alongside the song’s overall signification of a life without false illusions (‘Virginia Woolf’).

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Bleeding Lit


Or how to study for Literature (2018 edition)

In this pre-June break, long overdue post, we outline some of the study strategies beyond the standard mantras of ‘I will read my text over the holidays’ and ‘I will commit the notes to memory’ that you can and should commit to in the weeks to come. Some of these suggestions will apply directly to questions from the 2018 JC1 H2 Mid-Year Examination, with the reference to the compulsory passage-based question on Measure for Measure and the single-text essay question options on Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, while most are generic enough for all revision from this point forward. If you would like to clarify the suggestions, or want tailored feedback on your notes, drop me an email at my school-based address!

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Truly

Perfect Places

In our introductory JC1 Paper 3 lecture, we leaped into Lorde’s ‘Perfect Places‘, replete with the dilemmas and discontents of youth, and opened the doors to analysing patterns and words in literary texts.

This post takes the lecture on a journey to the familiar ‘Home’, drawing connections on the mind and self between the two songs. If you feel rather lost about ‘analysis‘, this post provides some guidance by examining a few words for meaning and effect. For our readers in JC2, you may find that the first section wanders (unintentionally) into unseen poetry comparison territory.

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Narration

In our second Lit Cut after the first one on metaphors, we will be studying the art of narration and the many different ways we can analyse the narrator. In the first half, we’re split hairs on what or who an omniscient narrator, limited narrator, first-person narrator, unreliable narrator all mean. Once our voices are hoarse with these literary terms, we’ll progress to analysing examples of Austen’s narrator from Pride and Prejudice.

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Different Language

MirrorMaking the rounds online is Pooja Nansi’s commentary on the need for poetry on our shores – read it if you haven’t yet done so!

‘Young people of my generation seem more passionate than ever about ensuring our country is a reflection of all that we have to offer, but we are also struggling to talk about issues that are difficult and won’t fit into a neat box. We don’t know how to work with things we cannot easily define. We are a society in love with pie charts, acronyms, data, neat slogans that help define and neatly explain our concerns.

But there are things in the world, in life and in the human condition, where the most real things – like questions of belonging, identity and loss – cannot be quantified, neatly packaged, or sometimes, even named. This is also why Singaporeans don’t read poetry.

Poetry demands that you suspend yourself in uncertainty, it asks for meaning to unfold in its own time and this can be incredibly uncomfortable if you are used to constant certainty.

But it is precisely in situations where we are forced to struggle with the unknowns of life when we tend to turn to poetry. It is no coincidence that poetry resurges in difficult times like war or times of complex human emotions, like weddings and funerals. Poetry exists to give us language where we have none.

Poetry demands that we feel instead of think, to sit in questions rather than rush for answers. It asks that we recognise no two people live in the world in the same way, the same poem can mean vastly different things to different people and neither meaning is “wrong” or “right”.

Poetry demands that we examine all the contradictions, even the ones within ourselves. We cannot hate without the capacity for love, we cannot grieve if we do not feel joy, and we cannot build if we do not first tear down.’