Monday, April 15, 2024

orals - text commentary - reminders


Reminder :

The questions you always need to ask yourself for each document, before you begin to write your commentary, are the following.


WHO? (is expressing themselves. What is significant about the person, which will help us understand what this document is doing?)

TO WHOM? (are they trying to communicate - remember there is often more than one audience)

WHEN? (What is important about the fact that it was at this time and not another? At one point does this document come in key processes)

WHAT? (is the essential content of the document? Also, what do they NOT say which we might expect them to say?)

WHY? (are they saying all this: what is their objective? Are they trying to move the audience, motoivate the audience, persuade someone who does not agree?)

HOW? (do they try to reach their objective? -  Irony? Emotional language? Scientific arguments? Religious feeling? Mockery? Rhetorical devices?) What methods do they NOT us, which we might have expected them to use? Why not, in your opinion?

WHAT HAPPENED AFTER? (If the document promises, or predicts or warns, did these elements come true?)

HOW TYPICAL IS THE DOCUMENT? (Is it an innovative declaration of a new movement, or one more cliché from that time period, or what?)

WHAT DIFFERENCE DID IT MAKE? (Where does the document fit in to longer historical processes?)


In any exercise you are unlikely to find something to say on every one of the above questions for each document, but the list gives you an idea of where you should be looking.

 Reminder : 

 Analysis of vocabulary/ style/ lexical fields. These can occasionally be useful to help explain the objective of a document and how that objective is attained. However, listing words used without saying why this is useful is a mistake. I should say that at least 80% of the time, when I see the expression « lexical field » in a commentary on a civilisation document, it is not good.

Reminder :

Take time to think about the objective of the author of each document: this needs to be at the centre of your analysis. Talk about the objective of each document from the very first time you mention it.

 Reminder :

Students often quote the documents too much. This takes up a lot of valuable time. You may quote from the documents a particularly important phrase, or a particularly difficult phrase, to help you explain. It is not a good idea to quote dozens of phrases.


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