The Purpose of this Blog

Your task on this blog is to write a brief summary of what we learned in class today. Include enough detail so that someone who was ill or missed the lesson can catch up with what they missed. Over the course of the term, these 'class scribe' posts will grow to be a guide book for the course, written by students for students.

With each post ask yourself the following questions:
1) Is this good enough for our guide book?
2) Will your post enable someone who wasn't here to catch up?
3) Would a graphic/video/link help to illustrate what we have learned?

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Narrative techniques

Firstly, we discussed the meaning of 'narrative techniques', which basically means different ways of telling a story.

We then spoke about eight different Narrative techniques, which were:

Expostion-Provides background information,establishes the setting and introduces the character. It also explains the story and gives the you content. Examples for Exposition is the introduction of all the Star Wars movies.

In media res-this narrative technique is when a play opens on a scene at the middle or end of the story. This is often different from flashbacks and dream sequences. the main reason for In media res is to unroll the full story in front of the audience. Examples for In media res is the movies Pulp Fiction, and Kill Bill

Historical Present-This is using present tense when narrating or describing past events. It is describing past events as if they are happening now. Examples for Historical Present is the news, and many of Shakespeares academic writings

Dream sequence-This is a brief interlude from the main story. It adds another perspective on something e.g funnier or sadder. Examples for Dream sequences are movies and programmes such as Scrubs, Vanilla Sky, Everybody Hates Chris and Gladiator.

Retroactive Continuity-This is when the author delibrately alters the facts that already is established. It may be used to reintroduce popular characters, update a series for modern audiences or just to create more confusion. Examples of Retroactive Continuity are movies such as Donny Darko and Lucky number sleven.

Stream of consciousness-This is the attempt to portray a certain characters point of view,or thought process. Examples of Stream of consciousness are Inbetweeners,Scrubs,Peep show,American psycho and My name is Earl.

Flashback-This is when the present day in a play or movie the narrator takes you back in time. they usually foreshadow later events that may happen in the future. Flashbacks are mainly use to help build character personality and story, and also fills in crucial back story. Examples for Flashbacks are CSI,Family guy and One Tree Hill.

Flashforward-Just like Flash back, except it goes forward instead of backwards. It is used to show what happends in the future. Examples for Flashforwards are Final Destination and Thats so Raven.

Afterwards, we began reading where we left off on Death of a Salesman. In the book now, Willy remenisces the times when he his sons were still in education. His friend then comes in, plays abit of cards, and then Willy imagines his dead brother-Ben entering the room. The audience can hear and see him, but none of the characters can. He is then having a conversation in two different times of his life. This is called Mobile Concurrency, a Narrative technique in which two time frames are happening in the same time. The audience can see it, but certain characters cannot.

The lesson ended with us writing what Willy thinks of his brother Ben, and what Ben thinks of Willy.

Bye xx


Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Public & private Othello: Act 1.3 (28/09/10)

At the beginning of today's lesson we were asked to discuss the difference between the words "Exotic" & "Different". After we discussed this in pairs we were asked to feedback to the class, there were a range of ideas that suggested that the word "Different" was more used than the word "Exotic". Next the class decided that when someone/something was "Different" it was often referred to the unknown and was more negative compared to "Exotic" which was seen as unique (more positive). We then established the dictionary definitions of the words:

Exotic: From another part of the world; foreign.
Different: Uniquely new or of experimental nature.

With are gained knowledge of these words we then discussed whether the character of Othello could be classed as exotic or different. We concluded that Othello's character was both exotic and different.

Sir then added a new word to our vocabulary..

Dichotomy - A split that divides something into 2 parts

Following this we then started to read Act 1 Scene 3. (The duke is telling Othello about the Turks coming to invade Cyprus but is interrupted by Brabantio)
At the end of this scene we gather that Othello is a very composed & humble character who feels he is not in the wrong.

The rest of the lesson was focused around Othello's speech during this scene. (Click link to listen to speech)

The class then split into groups and had to act out a portion of Othello's speech & emphasize certain aspects which showed:

1. Othello's bravery and determination as a warrior
2. Othello's love for Desdemona
3. Noble savage
4. His intelligence and ability to argue in public
5. His passionate nature

Our final task was to come up with a conclusion stating if Othello was different or exotic, we also had to evaluate what the speech shows and how the speech reflects Othello's public/private life.

Homework: Note 10 bullet points on the Ottoman empire and the Venetian empire, Due Thursday.

Monday, 27 September 2010

The Beauty of Tragedy & Othello as a Tragic Hero

In Friday’s lesson we started off by looking at an extract from one of John Milton’s poems called "Il Penseroso", as a class we focused on two particular lines;

“Sometimes let gorgeous tragedy, in sceptred pall come sweeping by”

This lead to an in-depth discussion about whether or not tragedy actually could be ‘gorgeous’, and if so how? Well the class as a whole pretty much came to the conclusion that tragedy can only be beautiful or gorgeous when it is scripted, setup or basically anything except real and factual. The discussion then veered towards why we are attracted to tragedy and the fact that we only ‘enjoy’ tragedies when they aren’t real. For example someone in the audience of a play might absolutely adore how poetic the story is and how well they connect with the characters etc, but that all depends on how well it is written and the quality of the author; this evolved into our next topic. Tragedy comes from real life, real life is ugly and fictional or even well written factual tragedy is gorgeous. We spoke about this statement at length in class, the main point that kept popping up were that someone will warm to something more if they can connect with it; hence well told stories in the news have their subject matter awarded the title ‘tragedy’ whilst generic journalists get ‘natural disaster’ or ‘terrible accident’.

The apparent reason or cause for this way in which ‘tragedy’ is viewed, stems from the need for catharsis at the time of Aristotle; catharsis is the purging of emotions or relieving of emotional tensions through art... which is in this case tragedy.

After all that brainstorming and coming up with individual opinions we read Act 1, Scenes 1 & 2 of Othello. As a class we then spoke about Othello and whether or not he’s a victim of racial discourse due to his accent, place of origin and his skin colour. The outcome of this discussion was that whilst we all agree Othello is a pretty solid character and in fact the opposite to his stereotype, that even if he was neither of these his actions as a Venetian general speak louder than any man’s racial slurs.

If you weren’t in you should catch up on what parts of the play you’ve missed, also here is the full version of John Milton's poem:

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Stage Directions and Characteristics

ItalicAt the start of the lesson, we were asked about an upstage stage direction (which the class was pretty unsure about,) so we had to copy a diagram on the certain stage directions which could possibly face us in further reading of "The death of a salesman".

Going back to the previous lesson about Ambition, we were given a series of questions:
1) Why did/ didn't you predict any bad things happening to you?
2) If your life doesn't work out like this, will you think your a failure?
3) How important is ambition to being successful?

After these questions were answered, we briefly moved on to the stage directions in the opening of "The death of a salesman." We discussed as a class what the flute (at the beginning) tells us of the atmosphere and the dreams Willy may have. Sir, then made the class read pages 9-15 of the novel, which would lead us on to our next task. After reading the allocated pages given to us, we got into groups of 4 and were given 4 particular characters from the first scene. We had to describe their: Appearance, Character/Personality and their relationship to others.

Appearance- Old, "Past 60 years of age", "Exhausted looking", "Dresses like a businessman"

Character and personality
- Short tempered, "Has a mercurial nature", Contradicting, Confused, Big dreams.

Relationship to others
- Treats Biff different to Happy (there's been no mentioning on happy thus far from Willy to his wife.) He wants Biff to carry out his dreams, not to be a failure like himself.

Moving on to Linda,
Appearance- Not much mentioning of her appearance as yet- just dresses in a gown.

- Very loyal to Willy- she mothers him, Very typical "motherly figure" (caring for her children.) Linda has only spoken about her family so far in the play. This as yet, is what her character is all about. As we discussed in depth about Linda, we came across this quote: "Most often jovial, she has developed an iron repression of her expectations to Willy's behaviour." This quote brought us the following question: `What clue is their about Linda's character which the audience might not know?` It may give clues to what might happen next in the play, what do you think..........?

The next group spoke about Biff,
- Well built, Good looking.

Was really confident but life has made him more pessimistic. He's still searching for something perfect to make him happy and successful.

Relationship to others-
He's close to Happy, but the relationship has deteriorated over time. Biff tries to please his father but fails to do so- he is mocked for this. His father had too much expectations, he thinks.

Lastly, me moved on to Happy,
Personality- Competitive, Was bashful with girls but got over that, People think he's an assistant buyer- but actually lower down.
  • He's embarrassed of his father, but gets on well with him.
  • He wants to find a girl like his mother (Stable, Supportive.)
  • Tries to please brother, but changes subject when it gets too heavy.
After this task was completed, our final objective was to write 2 PEE paragraphs on how Willy treats his 2 sons. use the following questions to help you:
  • Who is his favourite?
  • What's his attitude towards his sons?
  • What are his values in raising his children?
  • Has Willy brought up his children well?
Homework: To find examples of narrative techniques. Research and feed back to class (Due next week, Wednesday 29th September.)


Othello - Tuesday 21st September

We started off the lesson by identifying what the most improtant pieces of information about the play were. We discussed the fact Iago is annoyed he hadn't recieved the promotion he believed he deserved, the fact Othello gained high social status by fighting against Turkey for Venice, Othello's secret marriage to Desdemona and the issue of Iago promising Roderigo he will persuade Desdemona to like Roderigo. These issues - among others - were what we decided were the most important issues, currently, in the play.

We then broke in to small groups and had to think of a different beginning to the play (e.g. at Desdemona and Othello's wedding), where it would be set and what characters would be there.

Afterwards, we focused on the homework that was previously set. This revolved around Iago and his speech in Act 1, Scene 1. We analysed the speech as a class, identifying characteristics of Iago. We discovered him to be decietful and we also thought this may be a sign of things to come in the play.

Our final two tasks were to discuss the 'Adjacency pairs' - "A unit of conversation that contains an exchange of one turn each by 2 speakers. the 1st turn requires a certain type of 2nd turn as a response", something which features in Act 1, scene 1 with Iago and Rodergio's discussion with Brabantio. Then, we searched Act 1, scene 1 for negative comments made by Iago, Roderigo and Brabantio about Othello, as we saw they had not actually mentioned his name, but commented on him many times ("An old black ram").

-What impression of Othello is created by Iago in Act 1, scene 1?
-Discuss the opening & the conversation with Brabantio, use the term 'adjacency pairs'.
(1 page, due Thursday 23rd)
- Comment on this.


Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Authur Miller and Death of A Salesman

Friday 17th September 2010
In the start of lesson we learnt about a famous american writter Authur Miller. For our homework we had to find out a thew facts about his life and in the lesson we discussed it as class.
These are the facts that we found out about his Life.

He was born in 1915 in New York City on Octeber 17 and died in 2005 at the age of 89 yrs old.

He wrote well known playwrites like Death Of a Salesman, The Crucible.

He was born into a Jewish family but then after he became atheist.

He Graduated from the University of Michigan.

He was Married several times and one of them was a famous icon which is Marylin Monore.

Authur Miller was part of the communist party.

After we had to do a small task to write about our life achievements, dreams and ambitions. We also discussed where we would be at the age of 60yrs old.

In our class we are going to lean about the Death of a Salesman.
During the lesson we looked over different covers of the book, we analysed the covers on what we thought the book was going to be about . We though that som of the covers were, dark, drepessing, lonliness and the story having to deal with death.

Death of a Salesman is about a 63 year old called Willy Loman dealing with the downfall of his tragic flaw. in the lesson we read a bit of the play and we had to do a task on what we thought Willys apartment was like.
We thought it was dull, ordinary, lives in city, lives in a council estate, theres nothing special, just as an ordinary life.

We also discussed Willys charcter based on what we read in the play.
We thought that he is cranky old man, hes tired of his life, hes shot tempered, he contradicts himself, hes quite depressing, his emotions get the better of him and wants a better life for himself.

We also learnt that Willy Loman has 2 children but unfortunatley they are adults in their mid 30s still living in their parents house. The two are called Biff and Happy. But we will more about them in the next lesson.


Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Americain dream

We first did a recap of our previous homework to start the lesson (see Mr Chatterley`s blog on "The Common Man").
We were then asked to write down five comedy shows from both the US and the UK with suggestions such as "Everybody hates Chris" and "Friends".
From this we came to realise that Americain shows seem to be more family based than shows in the UK and were asked to write down why we thought that was and why Americains care so much about family. The class then discussed how America first established which led to the idea of the Americain dream and what we all thought the possible meaning of it was. Mr Chatterley then gave different articles about the Americain dream to small groups who would then tell the rest of the class about their article. We all found out that people have their own ideas of what the Americain dream means as some see it as family based or materialistic e.t.c. At the end of the lesson we were asked to write down if we thought the Americain dream was achievable and sustainable.

For homework we had to finish of "The Common Man" sheet, research Arthur Miller`s life and read the glossary we were given and the blog.


Tuesday, 14 September 2010

In the lesson dating 14/09/2010 we began off by imagining a monster, we had to think about and describe a monster. Some of us described a physical monster whilst others considered the metaphorical form of a monster. We then had a class discussion as to whether Shakespeare was a RACIST! Following that we looked at the contemporary views on black people and women that prevailed in Elizabethan Britain. These included:

1. Thomas Elliot – men are strong, smart, desirous of knowledge. Women are timid, weak and tractable.

2. John Knox- “monstrous regiment of women” women are weak, frail, un-wise and disorderly.

3. Queen Elizabeth- angry that black people “crept in to this realm.” she wants them out of the country.

4. Thomas Coryat- women from Venice are promiscuous, they would “open their quivers to any arrow.” their husbands lock them up in fear that their wives might cheat on them. They’re all wh**es.

5. William Davies – Italian women are lewd and wicked!

6. Robert Burton- women are not to be trusted, they are “slippery” especially towards older men. In other words they’re “goldiggas”

7. Robert Burton- Italian men are famous for their uncontrollable jealousy but also southern men in general.

8. Cornelius a lapide- women are an ornament to men, they are just there to be shown and to bring honour to the men. They’re just objects

We then concluded the lesson by beginning to read othelo Act 1 scene 1.

H/W – summarise the rest of the contemporary views 9-15 AND to answer question on IAGO’s speech.


Thursday, 9 September 2010

Lesson 3 - An issue of race.

We arrived at the lesson confronted with two images, the one on the right which appears to show a painting of a man and a woman in love and another image of an interracial couple. We were asked to describe what we see in both the pictures and what similar in both of them.

After some discussion we came to the conclusion that both pictures showed a black man and a white woman and were told that race would be a major factor in the play "Othello" which we discussed in previous lessons and how we thought black people would be thought of at the time. Sir explained to us that, at that time, the colour black was associated with being demonic and impure, which we then linked to what the English people would think of people who were black.

After this lines from Othello were cut out and randomly handed out to everyone in the class which lead to an activity where we all stood up and had to walk around the classroom; If we bumped into someone we would have to tell them our line and vis versa. After a few minutes we would be stopped and told to do the same thing however this time when we bump into someone we would have to say our line in a different emotion or expression e.g. as if it was a secret or as if it was some really good news.

When this activity was complete and we had all sat down, sir went around the room asking students what lines they had, what we thought they meant and in which emotion/expression they were best suited for. An example of this was the line i was given which was "I ha't, it is engender'd; Hell and night must bring this monstrous birth to the world's light." I judged that this would be most likely to be said in a secretive or angry way. The meaning behind it, in my opinion, was that it was about a black person who does not belong as the line reads "monstrous birth to the world's light".

We continued to speak about Shakespeare's preferred method of writing plays, iambic pentameter or blank verse. When writing in blank verse the line must contain ten syllables or "beats" with every second one having a drop. Blank verse is used by Shakespeare and many other poets and playwrights as they feel that it best mimics the sound of a human heart beat and is the closest resemblance to our regular speech pattern. So remember, if you need to remember blank verse or iambic pentameter, then think of a heart beat.

Now equipped with the knowledge of iambic pentameter, we were separated into groups of three and each given a line which was written in modern day English and asked to re write it in old English while keeping it in blank verse (ten syllables in a line). For example, a group was give the line "Get me my hanky or else" and they rewrote it as "Fetch me my handkerchief or feel my wrath", if you count the rewritten line, it is still in blank verse and retains it's meaning even though the words are completely different.

After going through and checking the accuracy of our rewritten lines, we were handed a sheet which contained all the lines that we were all previously given at the start of the lesson and asked to first find any links between the lines then write what we would expect from the plays based on the lines e.g. themes, genre etc. and finally we were told to underline the words that gave us clues about the nature of the play. (If you don't have the sheet because you were away or for any other reason click here.)

After having a short discussion about what a tragic hero was traditionally (essentially recapping on the second lesson) and further discussing how black people would be treated in the 16nth century we read an extract from "What was Shakespeare's England like?" Which explored how black people were seen during Shakespeare's time and his use of black people in his plays, this was extremely useful and if you don't have the extract for whatever reason make sure you get it from Mr Sadgrove as it is extremely useful.

Homework: Answer four questions to do with England's attitude towards black people.

1) What were the dominant views about black people in early modern England?
2) How did dramatists represent black people?
3) How does Shakespeare use/portray black people?
4) Do you think Shakespeare is a racist?
(Use the extract to help you)


Aristotle to Miller - Understanding the term tragedy. (08/09/10)

In this lesson, we looked at different definitions of tragedy and how they have changed over time.

We began by recording our own ideas on tragedy and the tragic hero. We then discussed how Aristotle outlined his rules for tragedy in Poetics, looking mainly at the interplay between action/plot and character. We learned how Aristotle showed that tragedies usually involve kings, whose tragic flaw (harmatia) was usually pride. He explained how these characters were generally moral people who behaved nobly. He wanted the heroes to learn from their errors and by learning, become more complete characters.

We then discussed Freytag’s Triangle:

Most of the lesson was spent reading Miller’s essay “Tragedy and the Common Man”. We began summarising each of the 17 paragraphs into one sentence:

Summary of Miller’s 17 paragraphs in his essay “Tragedy and the Common Man”.
1) In the modern world, “tragedy” is seen as irrelevant to our lives.
2) However, the common man suffers the same things as ancient kings used to.
3) That’s why everyday people can understand a tragedy about a king.
4) Someone who always strives to gain his rightful place in society (even on pain of death),
could be said to be a tragic hero.
5) Tragedy is, therefore, man’s need to measure himself against what he sees as fair.
6) The tragic flaw of a character is this unwillingness to accept the unfairness put upon them –
and this unwillingness leads to the fear of uncertainty.
7) Questioning this fear, leads to new knowledge.
8) Adhering to the idea of only kings, etc., being tragic heroes, negates the universality of the
9) Indeed, the fear of uncertainty is more prevalent today than ever within the common man.
10) The ultimate destruction of the tragic hero, at first indicates something wrong with the world,
which becomes a new morality in dealing with this unfairness.
11) Tragedy enlightens us, insofar as it highlights unfairness; and this is significant for the
common man.
12) Our lack of tragedy may come from views which explain our actions as purely coming from
the mind.
13) If instead, only society is to blame, then the character involved would be so pure as to be
unbelievable – the tragic hero must have both these things.
14) The need of a man to truly realise himself is the only unalterable thing, everything else must
be questioned.
15) The tenacity involved in securing one’s rightful place in the world, means a character gains
“size”, the stature previously mistaken for kingly nobility.
16) Tragedy is therefore not pessimistic but optimistic, in that it strives to find the best of
17) The tragic hero represents the unconquerable spirit of man to achieve his potential, despite
all the obstacles; the universality of this striving make tragedies perfect for the common man.

At the end of the session, we watched the ending of the film Titanic with reference to four of the characters (Cal, Jack, Cpn Smith and Murdoch), then discussed which of these were tragic heroes and why.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Lesson 1 - Intro to English and ideas of Tragedy (An example of a good scribe post)

In this lesson we completed a student survey and discussed our reasons for chosing English as as an A level course as well as our favourite books. These ranged from books studied at school (such as Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men and Wilde's A Picture of Dorian Gray) to books chosen and read independently. We were also introduced to our teacher's expectations in English and the make up of the course for AS. The first unit is called Dramatic Genres: Tragedy and entails the study of a Shakespearean tragedy - Othello (click on link for a synopsis of the play and other information) and a modern tragedy.

Following this we discussed/brainstormed the concept of tragedy in general terms, coming up with assosiations of sadness, melancholy, death, revenge, depression etc. This informed a discussion of what we might consider 'tragic' and whether things such as the BP oil spill could be deemed 'tragic'. With a general understanding of some ideas of what tragedy might mean we looked at several poems which could be considered to espouse a 'tragic' view of the world or an event. We discussed Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold and the sound of an ebbing sadness Arnold percieves in a world ''where neither joy, nor love, nor light... nor peace' are possible. Key to this discussion was the meeting of WHAT the poem said to us and HOW the poet had shaped his meaning. Here is an animation of Arnold reading his poem.

This led to an analysis of three futher poems which groups will need to get to know well for homework in preparation for teaching them to the class next lesson (Thursday). Futher Homework was to research a definition of tragedy and bring it to the next lesson.

Mr S