Conflicting Perspectives Essay Hsc

Module C is one of the most complex modules that you’ll study in your HSC year (especially if you’ve been lumped with the Shakespeare text for the Module, Julius Caesar!). ‘Representation and Text’ deals with the ways in which an author’s perspective can shape the construction of a text, and how that affects our own view of a person or event.

Your task in this module is to assess this difference between the truth of a given situation (as close as you can get to it!) and representations of it in various texts, and show, by close analysis of language techniques, the ways in which the truth has been modified to target specific audiences.

The two electives specified in the HSC Prescriptions 2009-2014 for the English Stage 6 syllabus deal with this in very different ways that require unique approaches.

Conflicting Perspectives

Conflicting Perspectives deals with the perception of individuals who experience an event from different positions. Take the literal example of a football game. A tackle that may seem illegal from the perspective of one referee may be seen to be acceptable by a referee who has a better view of the incident. The aim of Conflicting Perspectives is to discover how an understanding of an event can be shaped (or distorted) by the person telling us about the event.

History and Memory

In a way, History and Memory is similar to Conflicting Perspectives because it deals with different views of an event. However, where Conflicting Perspectives are often just that, in conflict, the History and Memory elective delves into how history and memory cannot fully describe an event without one another – they are incomplete by themselves. To use an infamous example, the Holocaust is universally seen as a horrible chapter of human history. However, how was this event experienced by the Jewish prisoners? How was it experienced by the Nazi guards, the Red Cross and other parties? Your aim in this elective is to analyse how the interplay of history and memory lead us to the “truth” of an event.


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This post is in response to last week’s poll.  I was a little surprised to find a vote for this particular module so early in the year, as I assumed that most schools would be tackling either the AoS or Module A this term. The voter didn’t specify a text so I’ll focus on general approaches to the module. If you would like a more detailed approach to any of the following three texts, let me know in the comments:

Smithsonian September 11 Website

Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes

The Justice Game by Geoffrey Robertson

The key words for this module are right there in the title: REPRESENTATION and TEXT. In many ways, Module C is very similar to the Area of Study. We have a concept (either History and Memory or Conflicting Perspectives) and we’re looking at how it is represented in and through our core text and texts of our own choosing.

This is more challenging that it first appears for two reasons:

1. We are looking at how the concept is represented in the texts, not how an example of the concept is represented. So if we’re tackling the Smithsonian’s September 11 website, we need to focus on what the site can tell us about the idea of history, the idea of memory and the relationship between these two ideas rather than simply looking at how the site presents this memorable and historical event.

2. Remember that HOW means techniques. This is always true in HSC English. So not only do you need to work out WHAT the message about the concept is from your texts but also exactly HOW this message is conveyed through poetic, literary and visual techniques.

If you are able to grasp these two points then this is not, in my opinion, a difficult module. A colleague at my last school said that if students were going to “faff” in an essay, then this module was the one in which to do it. What she meant was that, again like the AoS, Module C is concept based. This means that your responses should focus on the idea (either history and memory or conflicting perspectives) and that there is room for personal reflection alongside textual evidence.

So ask yourself these questions to clarify your own opinions before you get into close analysis of your texts:

History and Memory

What is history? What is memory? What is the relationship between them? Is one more valid than the other? How are history and memory represented in the media?

Conflicting Perspectives

What is a perspective? Why do people have different perspectives and what can cause them to conflict? How are conflicting perspectives represented in the media?

When thinking about related material for this module it’s important to remember one last point: the concept needs to be represented within, between and among texts. This means you can’t have a “history” related text and a “memory” related text. Each text needs to highlight something about both ideas. Similarly, a text that only provides a single perspective isn’t really going to work. Related texts for that elective need to represent conflicting perspectives within a single text.

There’s one final, important, distinction that is relevant to both this module and to the AoS. There is a difference between what a text is about and its message. The Smithsonian’s September 11 website is about history but its message (intentionally or not) is that history is selective and constructed. Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes portrays some conflicting perspectives but one of its messages is that perspective is shaped through and by language. Similarly, The Justice Game portrays conflict within the formal setting of the court; however, one message is that the dominant perspective tends to be the one that is most effectively represented in the “game”.

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Posted in HSC English | Tagged conflicting perspectives, history and memory, HSC, Module C, representation | 15 Comments

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