analysis of the use of innovative forms and techniques to represent the twentieth-century city.
In an essay of 2,000 words, analyse the use of innovative forms and techniques to represent the twentieth-century city. You should base your answer on TWO of the following from Part 5 of the module:
1.At least ONE short story from Dubliners
3.THREE New York texts (poems and/or prose extracts).
This assignment is designed to encourage you to think about the way form and technique play a role in shaping the meaning of the twentieth-century city texts you have studied. It differs from TMAs 01–04 in that it offers you the opportunity to select the texts you think will provide you with the most effective answer to the question, this time using 2,000 words. You may choose to write about texts from the same genre, or select a combination that encourage a more varied approach; whichever you decide upon, it will be sensible to choose texts that allow you to make comparisons and contrasts, and explore a range of meanings.
While the question is centred on the theme of ‘the city’, it is equally concerned with the varied forms and techniques that are deployed in its varied representation. So whichever texts you write about, it’s important to keep in mind that you are being asked to address two things, which are ultimately related: form and content. This involves thinking about what role features such as structure, voice, perspective, rhyme, rhythm, genre, repetition and juxtaposition (the list is not exhaustive and other features will occur to you as you read the texts) play in contributing to meaning.
A key word here is ‘innovative’: so a useful place to start when making notes for your essay would be Sara Haslam’s introduction to The Twentieth Century, where she identifies some of the innovative and experimental forms and genres that feature in the set texts. For example, Haslam tells us that the short story is described by Elizabeth Bowen as ‘the child of this century’, and its form associated with many influential writers up to this day (p. 3). Cinema, we are reminded, ‘shared with the short story an experimental attitude to form’ (p. 3). In Sue Asbee’s chapter on the New York texts, Langston Hughes’ poetry, with its repetition, patterning and spontaneous ‘jazz rhythms’, is seen as ‘freed from the constraints of traditional poetic forms’ (p. 119); while Claude McKay’s poems invoke traditional forms, such as the sonnet, the pastoral and regularly paced rhymes to ‘juxtapose the present with the past’ (p. 110); and the New York prose texts are described as ‘distinctively modern writing’ (p. 115).
In preparation, you should read the relevant chapters in your module book, The Twentieth Century, and be thoroughly familiar with your chosen texts. If you remain unsure of key terms and techniques associated with prose and poetry, then revisit the appropriate online skills tutorial before you start to write. The films ‘Dublin, “The Dead” and Irish modernity’ and ‘Harlem voices’ may also be of help in approaching this TMA. If you select Metropolis as one of your texts, you should consult the guide to ‘Reading and studying film’ on the A230 website, as you are expected to discuss cinematic terms and techniques in your answer (e.g. camera angles, point of view, lighting, mise-en-scène, editing, sound) and show how they inform particular shots and scenes in representing the city.
Please remember that you can use any of the stories in Dubliners, not just the eight that are required reading and are discussed in Chapters 1 and 2 of The Twentieth Century.
If you choose to write on the New York texts, remember that you can write on any of the following:
•any of the texts reproduced in ‘Readings for Part 1’ in The Twentieth Century, pp. 137–63
•any of the additional Langston Hughes poems reproduced in the Additional Resources section of the Study Guide for Week 23
•the Claude McKay poem ‘Harlem Shadows’, reproduced in the ‘Skills tutorial: poetry’, Section 1.5 ‘Assonance’.
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