Unpinning the Dress


In this extension tutorial, 17-E1 examines the use of voice and rhythm to Christine Chia‘s pithy and potent ‘New Year Dress’.  Remember to apply the skills of picking out (for voice) perspective, tone, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, (for rhythm) pauses, end-stopped lines and enjambment from our retread of Larkin’s ‘Mr Bleaney’. 🙂

New Year Dress

A dress is not just a dress
when your mother gives it to you
with the instruction that you
must wear it on the first day
of Chinese New Year.                                      5
You’ll never buy anything like that
but you put it on,
so that she’ll be happy,
radiant in front of the relatives
because she birthed you,                                10
clothed you, owned you,
like the dress she gave you.

> ‘.’ <

Write a critical paragraph on the above poem, relating it to the portrayal of the relationship between parent and child. You may respond to the guiding questions below, or roam free. Upon completion, let Mr. Lim know and await a few less-than-motherly words of affection. If given the green light, your newly clothed paragraph can see the light of day – post it as a comment here. Remember to leave your name somewhere!

> ‘.’ <


  • Who is the persona, and what are her feelings about the ‘New Year Dress’?


  • Why does the poem employ the second-person point of view (‘you’)? What is the tone, or attitude towards the dress?
  • Which words in lines 1-9 express the persona’s tone? Identify patterns of words (e.g. conjunctions, modal verbs, adjectives) and closely analyse how they evoke the tone.
  • Comment on the progression (change in effects) in lines 10-12, considering 1-2 features listed below:
    – Enumeration, or the listing of verbs (birthed, clothed, owned)
    – The repetition of ‘you’ at the end (i.e. epistrophe) and the pauses after ‘you’
    – The shift from enjambment (lines 1-5) to end-stopped lines (lines 10-12)


  • What does the persona’s attitude towards the dress suggest about her relationship with her mother?
  • What can we say about the relationship between a parent and a child in general?

Timetables for Term 2

Hey Eunoia Lit students! At our first lecture, we talked about dedicating ODD WEEKS to one Paper 1 lecture, two Paper 3 tutorials, and a Paper 1 tutorial, and EVEN WEEKS to one Paper 3 lecture, two Paper 1 tutorials, and a Paper 3 tutorial. From Term 2, we will be following this guideline so that we can cover both Measure for Measure for Paper 1 and Woman in Mind for Paper 3 concurrently.

You can access the Literature lecture and tutorial timetable below, which denotes the sequence of lectures and tutorials across both papers more clearly:

Timetable 2017 Term 2

Remember to bring the right text for the relevant tutorial!

To explain things a bit, covering texts concurrently gives you more lead time to read and re-read them, and familiarise yourself with the texts. We’d rather spend about 10 weeks per Paper 3 text and about 15 weeks per Paper 1 text, rather than dive deep into 5-6 weeks of one text and one text only.

An Introduction to Drama

Rip You to Pieces

Hello students! We’ll be studying a grand total of THREE plays this year, so you should expect to be swimming in a lot of character dialogue, stage directions and ‘visualisation’ of stage action, stage movement and characters’ expression.

We will be using much of our tutorial time in the first few weeks of Term 2 to expose you to these aspects and how to read / analyse a dramatic text of course.

I thought you might find the following lecture I did in 2015 useful and maybe enjoyable (I know I did, but that’s me). You will also see for the umpteenth time my obsession with the Hamlet reference on the SCGS banner within the notes, so I apologise in advance. It did have a role in me teaching you, so maybe it’s not all that bad? Maybe? (P.S. I just used a mix of rhetorical questions).

That’s So Drama (Notes)

That’s So Drama (Slides)

Productions of Measure for Measure

Comic Summary

Reviews and synopses of various productions:

The Guardian (Shakespeare’s Globe)

The Guardian (Young Vic)


 The Guardian (Cheek by Jowl)
Continue reading “Productions of Measure for Measure”

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ in an Age of Trump


There are perhaps parallels between Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel and the at-times senseless exercise of power (in both the public and private realms) in Measure for Measure, but what we cannot doubt is the portrayal of authoritarian regimes in both that allude to the age we live in.

Back in 1984, the main premise seemed — even to me — fairly outrageous. Would I be able to persuade readers that the United States had suffered a coup that had transformed an erstwhile liberal democracy into a literal-minded theocratic dictatorship? In the book, the Constitution and Congress are no longer: The Republic of Gilead is built on a foundation of the 17th-century Puritan roots that have always lain beneath the modern-day America we thought we knew.

Read the full essay by Atwood on The New York Times website.

‘Strange Fruit’ Paragraph Review

Hi people, Ms Yeo and I originally intended to use our first tutorial this week to review the paragraph you wrote on the poem ‘Strange Fruit’, and it is with a strange mix of joy and self-annoyance that we did not. I would go as far as to say that all the work I received was very encouraging indeed, in that everyone sought to analyse the poem for methods, evidence and effects… and no one attempted to ‘explain’ what was going on in the poem. With that in mind, I personally did not want to dedicate a tutorial to covering skills most of you have mastered, and so ask that you use your next two tasks to work on your strengths and areas for improvement!

Led by the guiding questions, many paragraphs ably analysed the external effects on the reader, with some detailing your experience of the work: being lulled into calmness by one line, surprised by the next, drawn back into the illusion of safety, and shocked out of your slumber. Being aware of ‘how the reader feels’ is important because it tells us you are aware that the text is, well, an ‘experience’ constructed with methods, in order to evoke effects and make a particular statement (purpose). Keep this up, especially as we move into analysing our two dramatic texts, Measure for Measure and Woman in Mind, as the effects on stage (e.g. fantastical, comic, tense) will often differ from the effects on their respective audiences.

Some, though not all, were able to support this with a pattern of evidence and close analysis of specific evidence. On the bright side, everybody was able to identify methods and analyse at least some evidence. What I’d like to see everyone also do is identify 2-3 bite-size quotations that fall under the method you are listing. If you are selecting ‘crows to pluck’, I would expect you to also consider ‘sun to rot’ and ‘wind to suck’ as they all present a sense of destruction or from the perspective of the fruit, a complete vulnerability to the violence of nature. Continue reading “‘Strange Fruit’ Paragraph Review”

Continual Assessment for Term 1

Hey Eunoians!

Please find the briefing on Continual Assessment by clicking on the link (wait, you just missed it).

Most classes will be given time in class this week to complete CA1 – an essay outline task for one Paper 3 poem related to ‘The Mind and Self in Literature’ – ‘Mr Bleaney’ by Philip Larkin, on p70 of Multiverse. You are expected to complete the essay outline by the end of your 3rd tutorial in Term 1 Week 10. Nonetheless, we will preserve an even deadline for CA1 – Fri, 10 Mar 2017.

You will be tasked to complete CA2 – a full essay on one Paper 1 poem from two options, both of which will cover familiar themes and concerns. You can download the assignment here: 2017 JC1 CA2 P1 Unseen Poetry (Revised).

Mr. Lim’s students may choose to submit their work via email. Read these guidelines first, and send them over to marc[dot]kenji[dot]lim [at] ejc[dot]edu[dot]sg. Mr. Lim’s students may also sign up for consultations over the holidays at tinyurl.com/consultmkl.