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1.2 VISUAL TEXT study (AS90850) - post essays here

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englishteacher
Expert Teacher



Joined: 05 Oct 2005
Posts: 3179

Posted: 9 Aug 11 (21:34)    Post subject: 1.2 VISUAL TEXT study (AS90850) - post essays here

1.2 Visual text study (AS90850) 2011 / 2012
External
4 credits

You will write one essay of at least 200 words on text(s) that you have studied in class this year. The essay will provide opportunities to gain achievement, merit, and excellence grades. You will be assessed on how well you understand and use evidence from the text you studied to support your discussion.

The text(s) can be any of the following:
Film; television programme; drama production; graphic novel; radio programme; oral performance; OR a combination of the above (inter-textual studies).

Scroll to find the examination documents for this standard here:
http://www.nzqa.govt.nz/ncea/assessment/search.do?query=English&view=e xams&level=01

This standard is externally assessed. Please post your essays here and you will be given feedback. We do not grade essays.
 Topic: 1.2 VISUAL TEXT study (AS90850) - post essays here
schoolstuff



Joined: 11 Aug 2011
Posts: 2

Posted: 20 Aug 11 (18:42)    Post subject: Essay study visual text

hello, could you please look at my essay that I wrote about "The Truman Show", thank you very much

Kia ora schoolstuff

Welcome to studyit - have a look around to see how to get the most from this stie:
http://www.studyit.org.nz/newtostudyit.html

Thanks for your post - open up the attachment for our comments.

All the best
ET
 Topic: 1.2 VISUAL TEXT study (AS90850) - post essays here
voldemortz



Joined: 12 Apr 2011
Posts: 54

Posted: 21 Aug 11 (16:29)    Post subject: Film Essay

Kia Ora Studyit!

I have end of year exams coming soon and I have prepared an essay for my visual text study, can you please have a look and give me some feedback and also how I can perhaps simplify it because it takes too long to do the essay so I won't have time to do the other essay.

Thank you very much.

Looking at this now. Back shortly.
ET12
 Topic: 1.2 VISUAL TEXT study (AS90850) - post essays here
englishteacher
Expert Teacher



Joined: 05 Oct 2005
Posts: 3179

Posted: 22 Aug 11 (18:07)    Post subject:

Kia ora voldemortz

Welcome to the English forum - it is great to have you here and to be able to read your essay. Please read the comments in the attachment.

This website will really help you with the quality of your writing and thinking:
http://www.englishbiz.co.uk/mainguides/analysis.htm

You are doing well and should be proud of your first essay.

Keep up the good work
ET
 Topic: 1.2 VISUAL TEXT study (AS90850) - post essays here
dancing_diva



Joined: 22 Oct 2010
Posts: 100

Posted: 24 Aug 11 (20:45)    Post subject: setting question

For the film Billy Elliot.. Am planning to do it on the setting of 1984 coal miners strike in Durham North East England


These are my 3 ideas.


-Masculinity vs Femininity in 1984
-Struggle of the working class people. (Dad chopping wood off the piano)
- Behavior of the social classes. (Interaction between Tony and Mrs Wilkinson during the argument at Billy's home.



Is this good?



Thanks
 Topic: 1.2 VISUAL TEXT study (AS90850) - post essays here
englishteacher8
Expert Teacher



Joined: 16 May 2007
Posts: 1176

Posted: 24 Aug 11 (21:09)    Post subject:

Hi there dancing_diva

It sounds like you are on the right track. Don't forget to mention the significance of your 3 points in relation to the strike. You haven't mentioned what the question is that you will be practising but also make sure that you relate your points back to the question.

Feel free to post the essay once it is written
ET8
 Topic: 1.2 VISUAL TEXT study (AS90850) - post essays here
voldemortz



Joined: 12 Apr 2011
Posts: 54

Posted: 25 Aug 11 (18:46)    Post subject: Film Essay on important idea

Kia Ora Studyit.

I have attached my film essay on "describe an important idea" question and would like feedback on how I could improve it.

Thank you very much!

P.S: I have not included the conclusion.
Kia ora voldemortz

Make sure you include a conclusion in all your essays - don't over look the importance of this final paragraph.

Your essay is attached with comments.
Going well
ET
 Topic: 1.2 VISUAL TEXT study (AS90850) - post essays here
dancing_diva



Joined: 22 Oct 2010
Posts: 100

Posted: 25 Aug 11 (22:51)    Post subject:

Describe and explain how the early scenes in Billy Elliot set up the character, themes and setting

As the scene opens up in the film of Billy Elliot directed by Stephen Daldry, viewers begin to understand the protagonist Billy aptly, begin to comprehend the setting of Billy’s house and are able to grasp the themes associated in the film as well. Stephen Daldry emphasized the importance of the early scenes by employing dialogues, costumes and ……… in the film.



The setting of Billy’s house portrayed the struggles of a working class family coping during the coal miners strike. The issue of Billy’s identity is important as his struggle is one that many children and adolescents go through – the battle between who we are and who we think we should be. Billy is independent at just a tender age of 11. We are able to see this during an over the shoulder shot of grandmother’s room when Billy finds her empty bed. Daldry then uses a trekking shot as Billy turns and spills an egg for Nana’s breakfast and sets off to find Nonna. This shows that although, Billy is just a preteen, he is more mature and responsible to respond to serious situations and deals with it promptly. Although, there are two male adults in the home, Billy is not dependent on them. The kitchen was particularly clustered with unnecessary scraps and worn paintworks. This shows that the non-existence of Billy’s mother in their lives made the housework in their household to staggerly increase. Moreover, Daldry used natural lighting outside the settlements in Durham North England. Daldry particularly employed this to create a realistic approach of the circumstances in the coal mining strike community and makes us relate to setting of 1840 in a working class family particularly well.


Could you please check if am on the right track. I am new to answering questions like that.. (early scenes)


Thanks
 Topic: 1.2 VISUAL TEXT study (AS90850) - post essays here
englishteacher
Expert Teacher



Joined: 05 Oct 2005
Posts: 3179

Posted: 27 Aug 11 (7:31)    Post subject:

Kia ora dancing_diva

Yes, you are on the right track. I have attached some comments for you to read.

Going well, please continue and resubmit your essay for further comments when you are ready.

ET
 Topic: 1.2 VISUAL TEXT study (AS90850) - post essays here
olyndia



Joined: 27 Aug 2011
Posts: 4

Posted: 27 Aug 11 (15:16)    Post subject: Film Essay- Little Miss Sunshine

Describe at least ONE idea that you thought was important in the text(s). Explain how visual/oral language features were used to show tou the idea(s) was important.

Looking at it now, ET5
In the film, Little Miss Sunshine directed by Dayton and Farris, an important idea was the importance of family. The directors use of camera-work and dialogue enables the viewer to understand that this is an important idea.

In the dinner table scene, the viewer is exposed to a dysfunctional family which is seen through camera-work. Close-ups reveal each character looking unhappy and caught up in their own problems. They aren’t working together or communicating. These are important skills for a family to have in order to help one another and get along. However the close-ups, show despondent and strained faces- this family is not working as a unit therefore each member is unable to feel comfortable around each other. The awkwardness and disinterest of this scene, which is shown through close-ups, allows the viewer to see that family is important because this family is miserable as they are not working together.

However when the family are forced to work together when their car’s clutch fails, the viewer is shown through dialogue how when they combine, things work out. Once every member has scrambled into the van after giving a push start, Frank says “No one gets left behind, no one gets left behind. Outstanding soldier, outstanding.? This from Frank who was suicidal at the beginning of the film, begins to feel part of the family as they had finally accomplished something as one. This comment shows the beginning of the family’s cohesion and how they start to care for one another. This situation which seemed to be a curse at the time for the characters, ends out to be a positive thing as it enables the family to work together and see what happens if they all support each other. The importance of family is seen when Frank says “No one gets left behind,? because they are looking out for each other. Dialogue was used in this scene to show that this idea is important.

The family finishes their journey- emotionally and physically- at the beauty pageant, where they have finally understood the importance of family. The viewer is shown this through dialogue. When Olive is booed while performing and told to get off the stage, her father Richard stands by and supports her by saying “She’s kicking ass, that’s what she’s doing.? This is a significant step for Richard as his views on winning and losing are so strong at the beginning of the film. He thinks that winning is everything but by the end of the film he has come to realise that family is more important. He loves Olive and although she won’t win the pageant, he accepts her positive attitude and encourages her nonetheless. This line from Richard shows that he has changed and understands the importance of family.

In conclusion the idea that family is important in Little Miss Sunshine was important as it showed how if families communicate, work together and support each other they will enjoy spending time together. Camera-work and dialogue helped the viewer to show this is an important idea because we saw how much the family bonded and changed throughout the journey, by how they spoke about each other and their body language. In the end they all understood the importance

Hello any comments would be great thanks!
 Topic: 1.2 VISUAL TEXT study (AS90850) - post essays here
LoveDance



Joined: 28 Aug 2011
Posts: 7

Posted: 28 Aug 11 (20:28)    Post subject: Billy Elliot Essay

Hi our film study this year is Billy Elliot and this is my essay.
It would be helpful if you comment on it

Describe a character or individual in the text that you either admired or disliked.
Explain how verbal and/or visual features in the text were used to make you admire or dislike the character or individual.

In the film Billy Elliot (2000) directed by Stephen Daldry, an admirable character is Billy Elliot, played by Jamie Bell. Billy is eleven years old and lives with his father Jacky, his brother Tony, and his grandmother in County Durham, England. The film is set in 1984, at the time of the miners strike, and as Jacky and Tony are both miners, life is tough. In the opening scene, Billy is at home caring for his frail grandma. Billy shows a huge amount of care and understanding when looking after his grandma, in the opening scene and throughout the film. Billy has a stubborn personality, which is a good personality trait for Billy as he always stands up for himself when no one else does. This strong personality is greatly shown in Billy’s ‘Dance of Defiance’ – a dance in which he expresses his emotions to his father through dance. Billy’s caring nature, the fact that he stands up for himself and his stubborn ‘Dance of Defiance’ are all reasons why the viewer would admire the character of Billy Elliot.

The viewer first begins to admire Billy in the opening scene, when he is caring for his grandmother. His grandmother has Alzheimer’s disease, so she often can not remember where she is or what she is doing. In the opening scene, Jacky and Tony are down at the picket line, yelling and throwing eggs at the ‘scabs’ who break the strike. Billy is at home, caring for his grandmother. When he opens her bedroom door to give her breakfast, Billy realises his grandmother has wandered off somewhere, and since she does not know what she is doing, he immediately runs after her. He finds her standing in an overgrown field, and as he sees her, the viewer sees a mid shot of Billy, the camera shot showing the worry and sincerity on his face. He places a gentle hand on her shoulder and she turns, frightened, not knowing who Billy is, lost in the wilderness of her mind. “It’s me. Billy,? he tells her, and although not many words are said, Billy’s tone conveys enough emotion to show that he loves his grandmother deeply and understands that she is not well and can not help her own actions. This caring scene is juxtaposed with the picket line, and the care Billy shows his grandmother is contrasted with the violence at the picket line. This juxtaposition enhances the affection in the scene with Billy and his grandmother and in contrast enhances the brutality of the picket line. From the care Billy shows his grandmother in the opening scene, the viewer learns that Billy does not judge people for whom they are and will always care for his grandmother as long as she needs his help.

In addition to the care he shows in the opening scene, Billy is admirable because of the way he stands up for himself. Billy has to stand up for himself many times throughout the film, against his brother, his father, and the community. Billy loves to dance. “I’ve got this fire in my body. I’m just there. Flying like a bird. Like electricity.? This is the way Billy describes how he feels when dancing. It takes over his whole body; he has no worries or cares while he dances. Billy dances against the will of his father. When Jacky finds out that Billy has been taking ballet lessons instead of going to boxing, he is furious. Dancing is not considered a man’s sport, and Jacky is afraid of the embarrassment and ridicule that he fears will reach him if his son becomes a dancer. “Lads do football...or boxing…or wrestling. Not friggin’ ballet.? Jacky is a very traditional man, and even the thought of having a ballet dancing son disgusts him. Billy retaliates to his dad saying “It’s not just poofs, Dad. Some ballet dancers are as fit as athletes.? When he says this he is quoting his friend Debbie, who said that to him near the beginning. Further on in the film, Mrs Wilkinson (Billy’s ballet teacher) goes to the Elliot’s house to confront Jacky about why Billy missed his audition for the Royal Ballet School. Mrs Wilkinson has an argument with Jacky and Tony, and Tony tells Billy to climb on to the table and dance for them. He is standing on the table, and Tony tells him to start dancing while Mrs Wilkinson is yelling out “Don’t you dare!? Billy is thoroughly confused, and does not know who to listen to. His confusion is emphasised by a low angle camera shot which looks up Billy’s body into his face, and then a high angle shot looking at the daunting view of the room from Billy’s perspective. These camera angles give the viewer a better feel for the confusion Billy is feeling wanting to stand up for himself but being told not to by Mrs Wilkinson. Billy has to stand up for himself many times throughout the film, not only to his father, but also to his brother, best friend, and ballet teacher.


One of the most defining moments of the film is a moment when Billy stands up for himself more than he has ever done before. When Jacky finds Billy and his best friend Michael dancing in the boxing hall, an overwhelming need to make his father understand his passion for dance overpowers Billy, and he makes his father understand that auditioning for the Royal Ballet School could be his one chance to break free from the cages of his town. Billy performs to his father the ‘Dance of Defiance’, which, as its name says, is a dance that Billy uses to defy his fathers beliefs and traditions and causes him to understand his sons wish and help him achieve his dreams. Billy’s dance is filled with passion and emotion, which is accentuated with close ups of his face that thoroughly convey the determination he feels to make is father understand him. Jacky then visits Mrs Wilkinson at her home and asks how much the audition will cost. The viewer finally believes that Jacky is serious about taking Billy to the audition when he breaks the strike so he can earn money to save up for the audition. Tony tries to persuade him to not break the strike but he says “What have we got to offer that Billy?? Jacky knows that all Billy will ever be if he stays in County Durham is a miner, struggling for money like everyone else in their town, and Tony realises it to, but still convinces him not to break the strike. To get the money for the audition he pawns his late wife’s jewellery, even though it breaks his heart, knowing it is the only way Billy will get out of the town. This indicates to the viewer that Billy has changed Jacky for the better, and his ‘Dance of Defiance’ was the turning point in their lives.

In the film Billy Elliot, directed by Stephen Daldry, Billy Elliot is a character which the viewers admire from the very beginning of the film. Billy is at home caring for his grandmother, and when she gets lost, he shows great affection and understanding, which carries on throughout the film. In contrast to his caring and understanding nature, Billy often has to stand up for himself, as ballet, his passion, is not seen as a man’s sport and many people are against the idea of him doing ballet. Billy performs a ‘Dance of Defiance’ to his father, a dance which shows his father that auditioning for the Royal Ballet School is the only way for him to escape the barriers of his town. These are just some of the reasons which lead the audience to admire Billy for who he is.
Kia ora LoveDance
Welcome to Studyit! It is great to have you here with us. Take some time out to learn how to get the most out of site here.
Thanks for posting your essay. It is attached with comments.
This website will help you a lot:
http://www.englishbiz.co.uk/mainguides/analysis.htm
All the best
ET
 Topic: 1.2 VISUAL TEXT study (AS90850) - post essays here
englishteacher5
Expert Teacher



Joined: 28 May 2006
Posts: 3379

Posted: 28 Aug 11 (21:14)    Post subject:

Hiya olyndia

Comments attached. Remember those specific examples

ET5
 Topic: 1.2 VISUAL TEXT study (AS90850) - post essays here
LoveDance



Joined: 28 Aug 2011
Posts: 7

Posted: 29 Aug 11 (18:10)    Post subject:

Thank you very much for your comments They're really helpful.
 Topic: 1.2 VISUAL TEXT study (AS90850) - post essays here
olyndia



Joined: 27 Aug 2011
Posts: 4

Posted: 29 Aug 11 (20:45)    Post subject:

Thanks a lot for the tips. I'm sure it will help a lot
 Topic: 1.2 VISUAL TEXT study (AS90850) - post essays here
Maoam



Joined: 11 Apr 2011
Posts: 3

Posted: 30 Aug 11 (6:50)    Post subject: Film essay

Hello English Teachers,

could you please look at my practice essay on the Film 'The Pursuit of Happyiness". I have prelims coming up soon.

Thanks a lot

Kia ora Maoam

Welcome to the English forum. Your preparation is going well. You have studied this text thoroughly.

Comments attached.

ET
 Topic: 1.2 VISUAL TEXT study (AS90850) - post essays here
Astro214



Joined: 02 Aug 2011
Posts: 341

Posted: 30 Aug 11 (21:12)    Post subject: Slumdog Millionaire essay

Hi englishteachers

Could you please comment on my essay and give it a final mark? This will be very useful when it comes to the practice externals 2 weeks from now (yeah I'm cutting it fine) it would be a real help

We don't give grades here on Studyit, however, I am going to have a look at your essay now ET8

The question is:

Describe at least ONE important event at (or near) the end of the text(s).
Explain why the event(s) helped you understand the director’s idea(s). Discuss visual / oral text features in your response.


Cheers!
Astro214
 Topic: 1.2 VISUAL TEXT study (AS90850) - post essays here
englishteacher8
Expert Teacher



Joined: 16 May 2007
Posts: 1176

Posted: 31 Aug 11 (21:53)    Post subject:

Hi there again Astro214


I have made some comments on your essay that I hope you will find helpful. You could also look at discussing how film techniques work together (e.g. dialogue and lighting) to present an overall message.

I hope it helps,
ET8
 Topic: 1.2 VISUAL TEXT study (AS90850) - post essays here
Astro214



Joined: 02 Aug 2011
Posts: 341

Posted: 31 Aug 11 (21:58)    Post subject:

Hi ET8

I fully understand your point and will try to improve on your comments.

Thanks!
 Topic: 1.2 VISUAL TEXT study (AS90850) - post essays here
Maoam



Joined: 11 Apr 2011
Posts: 3

Posted: 1 Sep 11 (11:41)    Post subject:

Hello ET

Thank you very much for the great feedback. This is extremely helpful.
 Topic: 1.2 VISUAL TEXT study (AS90850) - post essays here
Ninja QK



Joined: 03 Sep 2011
Posts: 170

Posted: 3 Sep 11 (11:35)    Post subject: Film Essay

Hey Studyit!

Looking at them now ET5
Could you please tell me how to improve these two essays on the film Bend it like Beckham and say which one you think is better? Thanks

I have Word 2007 so I'll just paste them here.

The first question is "Describe at least one main idea that you thought was important in the text.
Explain how production techniques were used to help you understand the main idea."

In the film “Bend it like Beckham? directed by Gurinder Chadha, a main idea was that sometimes you must bend the rules to follow your dream. Two important production techniques that helped me understand this theme were a cut and dialogue.

A main idea in the film is that you should follow your dream despite obstacles, even if it means bending the rules slightly. Jess’ dream is to play football professionally but there are many obstacles that get in her way. The main obstacle is her parents, especially her mother. Her mother wants her to learn how to cook traditional Indian food instead of playing football, so tells Jess that she is forbidden to play. Jess ignores her mother and sneaks out to play for the Hounslow Woman’s team in the summer tournament, and then in Germany. Her mother eventually finds out, but Jess is persistent and makes up that she has a job, but instead goes to training. Jess’s sister Pinky has her wedding on the same day as the final game of the football season. In addition, a spy from America will be present, watching Jess and her football friend Jules. Jess decided to attend the wedding, but she was not happy and her father noticed. He said “if this is the only way I’m going to see you smiling on your sister’s wedding day, then go now, but when you come back, I want to see you happy on the video. Play well and make us proud?. The scout was impressed with Jess and Jules and they were both offered scholarships in America where they would play for Santa Clara. Jess’ father gave her his blessing to go to America and follow her dream.

The first production technique which helped me understand this theme was a cut. The start of the film is Jess’ dream sequence. She is playing for Manchester United alongside Beckham, and scores the winning goal. After the game, still in the dream sequence, Jess’ mother is interviewed. We are brought back to reality when she says “She shouldn’t be running around with all these men showing her bare legs to 70,000 people! She’s bringing shame on the family!? There is then a cut and we are taken to Jess’s room with the walls covered in football posters, some of her idol, David Beckham. This dream sequence shows Jess’ love of football, and her dreams of playing professionally one day. The cut shows the contrast between Jess’s dream and reality, and how far she still has to go to reach her dream with the obstacle of her parents in the way.

The second production technique which helped me understand this theme is dialogue. Dialogue between Jess and her mother make it clear that the biggest obstacle in the way to becoming a professional football player is her mother. Jess’s mother said “What family will want a daughter-in-law who can run around kicking football all day but can’t make round chapattis? Now exams are over, I want you to learn full Punjabi dinner, meat and vegetarian.? Throughout the film she tries to stop her daughter from playing football. An example of this was after Jess announced she was playing for a girls’ team, when she said “I don't want the shame on my family. That's it! No more football!?. After the first football training Jess attended, her coach asked her “are your folks up for it??. Jess lied “yeah, they’re cool?. This showed that she was determined to follow her dream, and was scared that telling the coach that her parents weren’t letting her play would mean the end of this dream, as he may not let her continue playing. Jess fought through these obstacles even if she did bend the rules slightly, and it paid off.

In the film “Bend it like Beckham’ directed by Gurinder Chadha, the theme of following your dream even if it means bending the rules was shown through a cut and dialogue. The cut showed how far away Jess’s dream is from her and the obstacle of her parents. The dialogue used showed how Jess’s mother kept trying to stop her playing football, but Jess was persistent and eventually achieved her dream.


The second question is "Describe an important character in the text and explain how they help you understand a theme"


In the film “Bend it like Beckham? directed by Gurinder Chadha, an important character was Jess, the main character. Jess helps me understand the theme that sometimes you must bend the rules to follow your dream.

Jess is an 18 year old Indian girl living with her traditional family near Heathrow Airport in London. Jess has a passion for football, but her mother says “what family will want a daughter-in-law who can run around kicking a football all day long but can’t make round chapattis?. The start of the film is Jess’ dream sequence. She is playing for Manchester United alongside Beckham, and scores the winning goal. After the game, still in the dream sequence, Jess’ mother is interviewed. We are brought back to reality when she says “She shouldn’t be running around with all these men showing her bare legs to 70,000 people! She’s bringing shame on the family!?. There is then a cut and we are taken to Jess’s room with the walls covered in football posters, some of her idol, David Beckham. This dream sequence shows Jess’ love of football, and her dreams of playing professionally one day.

A theme in the film is that you should follow your dream despite obstacles, even if it means bending the rules slightly. Jess’ dream is to play football professionally but there are many obstacles that get in her way. The main obstacle is her parents, especially her mother. Her mother wants her to learn “full Punjabi dinner, meat, and vegetarian? instead of playing football, so tells Jess that she is forbidden to play. Jess ignores her mother and sneaks out to play for the Hounslow Woman’s team in the summer tournament, and then in Germany. Her mother eventually finds out, but Jess is persistent and makes up that she has a job, but instead goes to training. Jess’ sister Pinky has her wedding on the same day as the final game of the football season. In addition, a spy from America will be present, watching Jess and her football friend Jules. Jess decided to attend the wedding, but she was not happy and her father noticed. He said “if this is the only way I’m going to see you smiling on your sister’s wedding day, then go now, but when you come back, I want to see you happy on the video. Play well and make us proud?. The scout was impressed with Jess and Jules and they were both offered scholarships in America where they would play for Santa Clara. Jess’ father gave her his blessing to go to America and follow her dream.

In the film “Bend it like Beckham’ directed by Gurinder Chadha, the character Jess helped me understand the theme of following your dreams even if it means bending the rules. She was persistant and kept on playing football despite her parents telling her not to. Her persistence paid off as her father gave her his blessing to play in America.
 Topic: 1.2 VISUAL TEXT study (AS90850) - post essays here
gus3606



Joined: 04 Sep 2011
Posts: 2

 Topic: 1.2 VISUAL TEXT study (AS90850) - post essays here
englishteacher5
Expert Teacher



Joined: 28 May 2006
Posts: 3379

 Topic: 1.2 VISUAL TEXT study (AS90850) - post essays here
dominator012



Joined: 01 Mar 2011
Posts: 583

Posted: 4 Sep 11 (20:22)    Post subject: Hi!

Hey ET. Could you pleasae take a look at my essay for my mid years (on tues) and help me (comment) get to a solid achievement or low merit.

Thanks and also how to cut it down without affecting my grade.

Kia ora dominator012

Sorry you've had to wait. Hope the exam went well for you. Your essay is attached with comments.

ET
 Topic: 1.2 VISUAL TEXT study (AS90850) - post essays here
englishteacher5
Expert Teacher



Joined: 28 May 2006
Posts: 3379

Posted: 5 Sep 11 (20:57)    Post subject:

Hiya gus3606

Comments attached.

Have a look of the exemplars on this thread.

ET5
 Topic: 1.2 VISUAL TEXT study (AS90850) - post essays here
Ninja QK



Joined: 03 Sep 2011
Posts: 170

Posted: 5 Sep 11 (21:22)    Post subject: Link

Hey ET5!

Thanks for looking at my Essays, however, I cannot find the link for the comments. I have logged in and can see everyone elses, but I can't see a link for mine anywhere. Where will I find them? Thanks a lot!

Ooops - here they are ET5
 Topic: 1.2 VISUAL TEXT study (AS90850) - post essays here
Ninja QK



Joined: 03 Sep 2011
Posts: 170

Posted: 5 Sep 11 (22:32)    Post subject: Thanks

Thanks a lot for the comments! Really helpful. What exactly is meant by explaining why it was interesting in the text as a whole? I havn't come across that type of question before. Thanks!

Kia ora Ninja QK

Good question! Think of using a camera with a zoom lens when writing about a text. In an essay you will be selecting specific examples from your text (zooming in close up to see the fine detail), describing (close up examination) and then explaining (zooming out to a wide shot so that you can see how this one example fits/relates/is connected to the rest of the text). how this one example relates to the the idea that you are focuing on in your essay question.

Read the exemplars - link in the first post to hear how this sounds.

Keep up the good work
ET
 Topic: 1.2 VISUAL TEXT study (AS90850) - post essays here
dominator012



Joined: 01 Mar 2011
Posts: 583

Posted: 5 Sep 11 (22:57)    Post subject:

uh ET can u comment on my essay please
Thanks

Kia ora dominator012

The essay is posted as an attachment in your original post.

ET
 Topic: 1.2 VISUAL TEXT study (AS90850) - post essays here
dancing_diva



Joined: 22 Oct 2010
Posts: 100

Posted: 6 Sep 11 (18:32)    Post subject: essay

Could you please checkk my event essay for Billy Elliot
 Topic: 1.2 VISUAL TEXT study (AS90850) - post essays here
dancing_diva



Joined: 22 Oct 2010
Posts: 100

Posted: 6 Sep 11 (18:34)    Post subject: essay

Please check my essay

Hi there,

This is well structured essay. I have included some comments that I hope you will find helpful.

ET8
 Topic: 1.2 VISUAL TEXT study (AS90850) - post essays here
Ninja QK



Joined: 03 Sep 2011
Posts: 170

Posted: 6 Sep 11 (20:25)    Post subject: Question

Thanks for the help ET! I was just wondering how to set out the paragraphs for this new type of question. For a question like:

"Describe at least ONE character or individual who played an important role in the text(s).
Explain why the character(s) or individual(s) was important in the text(s) as a whole. Discuss
visual / oral text features in your response."

Would I write about how the character is important to the whole text and how it relates to an idea first, or discuss a couple of visual and oral features first? Thanks!

The ideal is to integrate the two
 Topic: 1.2 VISUAL TEXT study (AS90850) - post essays here
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Each time I teach the survey of U.S. history since 1877, I show students A Date with Your Family, a short film produced in 1950. Highlighting an idealized vision of family life during the early post–World War II years, the film encourages teenagers to view dining at home with the family as a great joy and privilege. Much like the fictional Cleaver clan of Leave It to Beaver, the family members embrace their assigned roles and enjoy a version of domestic nuclear family bliss (1). Is this film corny? You bet. Students laugh at the exaggerated niceties of the film's prescriptive family unit, but their post-viewing analysis has been fascinating.

The majority of students grew up less than two hours from our small liberal arts university in southeastern Ohio. Many are first-generation college students, and they tend toward fairly conservative political views. And yet discussions of A Date with Your Family have revealed divisions within this relatively homogenous student body. Some students identified with the family values espoused by the film. Their families, they assured me, were very much like the nuclear family presented in the movie. When they lived at home they would eat dinner at the same time every night. Gender roles were fairly similar. Their parents were the accepted authority figures. Other students viewed the film with a more critical eye. They used words like “robotic” and “cookie cutter” and “zombies” to describe the family. They charged that no family was that “perfect.” Or, at least, that no family was that perfect now. Back in the 1950s, they suggested, when people believed in the traditional family, some families maybe were like the one featured in the film (2).

Discussions about A Date with Your Family encouraged an explanation and exploration of cultural ideals as opposed to lived realities. We examined the roles of race, class, politics, and region in the portrayal of this fictional family. Student comments got me wondering what it was that shaped their preconceptions about the 1950s. How could I get at the root of their perceptions? These questions deserved more attention than we could give them in the introductory survey, so I created a course that aimed to answer these questions over an entire semester. More than any other class I'd designed to that point, “1950s America” seemed the most likely to teach not only the content of the topic at hand but also the essential goal of developing students' historical thinking skills (3). This article provides an overview of the design and execution of the course.

Building the Course

The inspiration from the survey shaped the organization of the course. Students would critically engage with the idealized 1950s, the realities of lived experience during the decade, and the ways the history of the 1950s had become memory. With that in mind, I divided the course into three sections: The American Way of Life, Alternative Ways of Life, and Remembering the 1950s. For the first part of the course, students examine evidence that supports an idealistic view of 1950s America. They focus on ideas about consensus and contentment that play to their expectation of the period. In the second section they explore evidence that challenges this ideal—civil rights activism, Cold War anxieties, resistance to normative gender roles and sexual behaviors, youth cultural rebellion, and critical views of cultural conformity. The final third aims to reveal preconceptions of the period and how they came to be. This last section traces the evolution of American memory of the decade—from a fairly critical view of the 1950s in the immediate aftermath of the 1960s to the more nostalgic view that developed in the 1970s and has continued into the twenty-first century.

As a whole, the course is concerned with three questions: What was the American Way of Life and how was it communicated across American culture? What were the inconsistencies and limitations of the American Way of Life? and Why has popular memory of the American Way of Life, and the 1950s as a whole, changed over time? Having a specific question for each section of the course, each focused on a singular concept, helps students think deeply about an idea referred to time and again in assigned readings, class discussions, and source analysis. At the same time, course organization and focus encourages them to think critically and comparatively about people, events, and ideas that existed simultaneously but differed dramatically (4).

Beyond student interest and positive response to the subject, my inspiration for this course and its organization came from another observation I had while teaching other courses. As an important historical thinking skill, comparison proved difficult for many students. They struggled to identify differences between one point of view and another. They could not intertwine evaluations of sources, arguments, or ideas. I often found myself reading student responses that would describe one source, and then another, but give no real explanation of how they were different and why. The structure of the 1950s course demands that students spend such an extended amount of time studying one idea—in this case, the American Way of Life—that when an alternative to the ideal is presented, the difference is obvious. Because of the time spent developing this ideal, comparison of experiences against it are clearer and more striking than they might be otherwise.

Throughout the semester, students complete analyses of assigned sources, both primary and secondary. They write several paragraphs about the source, including a summary, a critical analysis (author, audience, argument, intent), and a discussion of where the source fits with our definition of the American Way of Life. In this consideration of where a source fits, students are encouraged to pair the assigned source with those we have already read, either as a support or a challenge to ideas previously established in class. At the end of each third of the course, students write an essay to answer the motivating question for that section. Students can rely on the source analyses they have completed over the course of the semester as they write their larger essays. Thinking about the sources in conversation with one another allows for a greater integration of source material as well as a greater engagement of historians' arguments and primary source evidence.

Un-teaching the Harmonious 1950s

During the first third of the course, as we focus on the construction of an idealized American Way of Life, we talk extensively about the construction of the postwar suburb and suburban culture. A key source is a July 1950 Time magazine feature article on William Levitt and the development of Levittown, New York. Highlighting Levitt's background, wartime experience, and business savvy, the article also points to the necessity of government-business cooperation in the building of the postwar suburban community and the enthusiastic response Levitt's creation received. While celebrating the opportunities provided by Levittown, the article also reveals the anxieties of the moneyed set of Long Island, who feared the eventual decline of Levittown into “future slums.” Even at the peak of suburban development's popularity, there were concerns that those pre-planned neighborhoods and cookie-cutter houses could lead citizens to a troubling conformity. Along with reading the article from Time, students analyze advertisements from contemporary periodicals, investigate government programs, evaluate early television commercials, critique propaganda films designed to promote a newly constructed shopping mall, and consider how sitcoms such as Leave It to Beaver worked in tandem to craft an idealized version of American life. Students comprehend that a multitude of influences contributed to create a cultural standard to which many Americans aspired. The American Way of Life was not some organic entity: it was a consciously crafted lifestyle, shaped by government, business, and media. And, as the Time article indicates, it was not without its critics—even at its most celebrated moment (5).

In my experiences teaching the course, Levittown and Leave It to Beaver ultimately come to serve as metaphors for the suburban and familial components of the American Way of Life. These specific examples of a suburb and a nuclear family—as they “should” be, according to the culture—are referenced time and again by students over the duration of the course. Using the Time article and Levittown images, students gain a sense of the intended order of a suburb's layout. They identify the motivation behind the rules and regulations set forth to keep the community looking neat and uniform. They are familiar with the youth of the population and the focus on the nuclear-family unit. They evaluate the government's role in promoting these communities, and they understand the appeal of home ownership for those who had survived the Great Depression and World War II.

Similarly, the Cleavers provide a tangible example of the ideal family. The episode we watch in class, “Ward's Problem,” highlights the privileged nature of the Cleavers's lives. It seems that Ward has double-booked his weekend, promising Wally a fishing trip and committing to Beaver's student-father school picnic. The episode chronicles his efforts to please both boys. Clearly, Ward's “problem” is easily solved. The show suggests that these are the kinds of problems a typical family might face. Money is no object. The children respect their elders. The family exists in perfect harmony, and each member appears entirely content with his or her role. The “problem” faced is how to attain the pinnacle of 1950s family life: togetherness (6).

Limitations of the Ideal

These representations serve as perfect foils for the second section of the course. Among the most successful and eye-opening topics is the civil rights movement. Generally, students have some sort of background on the topic, but their familiarity is typically with the famed figures of the freedom struggle: Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Malcolm X. We discuss impediments to full attainment of the American Way of Life based on racial discrimination and Jim Crow segregation. I remind students that the murder of Emmett Till took place in the same nation where a newly democratized middle-class population was heading to the suburbs (7). Ward Cleaver and his family served as American role models and entertained millions while nine African American students faced angry mobs as they attempted to desegregate Little Rock's Central High School (Figure 1). Having established the idea of the American Way of Life during the first section of the course, these limitations of the ideal are particularly striking.

Figure 1.

A young African American resident of Little Rock, Arkansas, watches in August 1959 as a march to protest the reopening of the public schools on a racially integrated basis passes through his neighborhood. The emergence of a mass civil rights movement in the mid-1950s, as well as the bitter and violent opposition it generated, unsettle students' preconceived notions of the decade and its supposedly shared American Way of Life. (Courtesy of Library of Congress)

Figure 1.

A young African American resident of Little Rock, Arkansas, watches in August 1959 as a march to protest the reopening of the public schools on a racially integrated basis passes through his neighborhood. The emergence of a mass civil rights movement in the mid-1950s, as well as the bitter and violent opposition it generated, unsettle students' preconceived notions of the decade and its supposedly shared American Way of Life. (Courtesy of Library of Congress)

Students' understanding of the 1950s as the “boring” decade of conformity is shaken when they consider the many and multilayered experiences of Americans during this period. Multiple students have commented that they think of the civil rights movement as a phenomenon of the 1960s, the far more exciting decade of social revolution (8). The second section of the course is marked by the stirrings that would erupt in “the Sixties.” Women engaged publicly and politically as they protested the American policies of the nuclear age (9). Members of the Mattachine Society and Daughters of Bilitis aimed to decriminalize and legitimize homosexuality (10). Hugh Hefner, a perennial class favorite, rejected the family-man style of masculinity and popularized the swinging single so celebrated in the pages of Playboy (see John Bodnar's article in this issue) (11). Evidence of the freedom struggle, Cold War critiques, and alternative genders and sexualities complicates students' understanding not only of the 1950s but also the decade and decades that followed (and, ideally, all historical periods).

The idea of events occurring in simultaneity is fundamental to students' development as historians. At the conclusion of the second third of the course and start of the third, I've tended to pause and ask students to assess what we've learned. While students' written efforts indicate their understanding that historians shape historical arguments by their selection of evidence, their points of emphasis, and their engagement with other historians, class discussions have proved even better evidence of students' understanding of history as “the study of the past” rather than merely “the past.” When I taught the course during the spring 2011 semester, I had potentially the most affirming moment of my teaching life when I commented that there are many students who enter history classes believing there is a singular version of the past. Following my remarks, the students in my class heaved heavy sighs and rolled their eyes at such a ridiculous sentiment.

Popular Memory

The memory section of the course has proven to be the most challenging. Considering how views of the past have changed requires consideration of the events of subsequent decades. To some degree, this contextualizing adds another complex layer to students' historical considerations. It challenges students' long-ingrained belief that history is unchanging. In their final papers, students tend to highlight the nostalgic memory of 1950s and skip the more critical perspective of 1960s liberals and increasingly leftward leaning youth (12). While considerations of the American Way of Life and its alternatives lend themselves to direct comparison, the evolution of American memory has proven more difficult for students to master. In future offerings of the course, I will highlight this evolution more during the final weeks of the semester in writing and in class discussion. In the past I have assigned a single standard format for source analysis assignments, but for future courses I will create templates specific to each third of the course with hopes of helping students better identify and analyze the themes driving each section.

This final section of the course is in many ways the most important for students as they prepare to leave the classroom. Public and family memory, museums and memorials, and fictional presentations of the past are among the most likely sites in which students will confront history and its presentations in their postcollegiate lives. Modeling a method of critical thinking, in the world of media and entertainment most particularly, provides students with a chance to continue their roles as historians.

When we watch Pleasantville (1998), a film in which siblings of the late 1990s are transported back to the world of a fictional 1950s town, the students are confronted with a critical memory of the 1950s, but one in which race or “color” is addressed only metaphorically. Conformity and contentment prevent the black-and-white citizens of Pleasantville from seeing the beauty and passion and danger of life with color. Class discussion allowed us to explore how the film played into preconceptions of the blandness of the 1950s even as it critiqued media portrayals of the decade. Simultaneously, the film presented a very specific and fairly critical view of the 1990s, leading students to consider how memory is often more a product of the present than the past (13). In a course evaluation, one student commented that Pleasantville was an effective “link. [I] really got it in relation to the class.” The student also noted that the “class was very helpful in understanding the 1950s mentality and what the decades following had to say.”

Conclusion

Even as memories of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s presented the 1950s as a simpler time, the students' investigation of the varied experiences of the period during the second section of the course allowed them to develop a critical perspective of recent memories. In the aftermath of the course, students reported continued encounters with the many and varied constructions of history. As one student told me, she engaged in heated discussion at home when an older relative asserted that the 1950s were a better, easier time—a discussion that ultimately revealed competing memories among members of the same family. That students leave the class with a sense of the constructed and contested nature of history is no small victory.

Beyond developing the 1950s course, I've taken the lessons of simultaneity, comparison, and debate and applied them across other classes, especially my survey of U.S. history since 1877. Beyond the 1950s, for as many topics as possible, I present alternate perspectives of select periods. When teaching the 1920s, I stress the newness of this modern decade, as technological advances shaped a mass culture that challenged traditional values and mores. Likewise, I emphasize the ways those uneasy with these challenges aimed to reassert their influence, be it through renewed commitment to a more conservative Christianity, adoption of increasingly nativist views, or the promotion of the prohibition of alcohol. Students must determine whether the decade marked a transformation or a continuation of American culture and values. Problematizing how we view a decade or an era helps students understand the importance of evidence selection to the historian's craft. It reveals the many and multi-layered experiences of those in the past. And perhaps most importantly, it helps them consider how arguments and viewpoints are developed across time and how we must engage with various histories rather than a single, indisputable version of the past.

© The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Organization of American Historians. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com

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