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Christopher Douce

A230 Journal – February 2023

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5 February 2023

I’m getting a bit behind! I start to re-read the block materials, and return my attention back to the The Sign of Four.

8 February 2023

A trip to Milton Keynes, which mean I have a bit of time on a train. I pack The Sign of Four in a bag, but I didn’t get very far, since I was distracted by thinking about a meeting that happened when I got there.

9 February 2023

I’ve finished reading the chapter about The Sign of Four, and I’ve started reading the chapter about The Beach of Falesá.

10 February 2023

It’s tutorial time! I have to dip in and out of a tutorial, which is about the two set texts, and the concept of the thematic essay. I had planned on doing a bit more reading today, but didn’t manage it.

20 February 2023

I’m getting a bit behind with my logging, and my TMA writing. Over the last few days (except yesterday) I’ve been working through both of the set texts (or, set novellas, I should say). I went through the Sign of Four whilst listening to a fabulous audio book from BBC Sounds. This really helped me to get to grips with the detail of who was who, and what was going on. Although I had found something similar for The Beach of Falesá, it was an adaption. So, I read through the chapters a second time. There was quite a bit of detail that I had not picked up on.

Today I’m going to start writing my TMA. My approach is to begin with the references (the books and the chapters), then to review the materials from the tutorials, put in a structure into my TMA, and then write about the topics that the TMA question is asking about. I’m hoping that some of the texts, and the broad pondering about the themes have gone in. 

I’ll also have a quick look through the prose tutorial, and the resource about thematic essays, pulling out some headings, which I’ll probably delete.

26 February 2023

Phew! That was a bit of a slog!

I spent the whole of yesterday trying to organise all my notes, and to listen again to a recorded tutorial. My process was to begin with a structure, move all my notes between the different sections, and then start to see whether I could form some words to link everything together. Whilst doing all this, I had to keep referring back to TMA question.

The first bit came pretty easy, but I found it quite hard work to really say what I wanted to say; the words were just not coming easily, although through the process, I found myself understanding both texts in a lot of detail.

Of course, I had too many words.

I printed everything out, did something entirely different, and then did editing with a pen and paper. What I ended up with seems to be okay, but it’s not brilliant. What it does, of course, is to show that I’ve got a good understanding of both texts that we had to look at.


I’ve ticked a whole load of items on the module calendar, which tells me that I’m gradually getting there. I can scarcely believe that the EMA submission date, which takes place in May, is in sight.

Next up is Dubliners and cities. Although it’s too early to say, I think this might be my favourite bit.

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Christopher Douce

A230 Journal - January 2023

Visible to anyone in the world

6 January 2023

It’s tutorial day! I had one booked in for the start of this week with a different tutor, but I couldn’t attend, since I was travelling. 

In advance of the tutorial, we were sent two readings: one by Wordsworth, and another by Shelly. I have to admit that I hadn’t found the time to read either of these. 

After beginning with a brief summary of what romanticism is all about and how these different poets defined poetry, our tutor showed how he carried out close reading of passages from both of these authors. Whilst he was doing this, he showed us how to use some of the technical language that can be used to describe poetry. 

During the tutorial, I made notes, which I need to revisit. 

The next thing I need to do is highlight the technical terms that were used an applied.

7 January 2023

I’ve been ejected from an A230 WhatsApp group!

During an informal call with some A230 students, I did my duty as a tutor to emphasise that students should not be discussing answers to TMA questions.

A fellow student in the group referenced section 2.1 of the TMA assessment policy which contains the words: "discussing the material and ideas you are learning with your tutor and other students is beneficial and is encouraged. However, when you start to write your assignment you must make sure this is entirely your own work and you should not share it with other students." 

The policy is ambiguous. 

Sharing of your own work with other students could be done either textually or verbally. I sense that the policy ambiguity is deliberate since there are different ways to assess TMAs.

8 January 2023

Back to the module materials. I picked up where I left, finding my place thanks to a bookmark. It felt quite a long time since I was reading this section. I finish the section on Frankenstein, but I have made a mental note to return back again to the start of the section, so I have a good feel about the shape of the block and what it is discussing.

A glance at the module website says that I’m now a bit behind, which I’m not surprised about. I need to get back a bit more focus. 

I notice that I haven’t booked in any more tutorials between now and the TMA cut off date, and there haven’t been and recordings of the day school 2 event. Through the tutorial booking system, I notice that there is another one that I can now attend. 

My plan of action: after doing some catch up reading tomorrow morning (and making some notes), and after the forthcoming tutorial, I’m going to put all my attentions into my TMA.

9 January 2023

I’ve done what I promised myself: to re-read the two sections of the module block that we’re studying. I’ve also ticked off all the activity from week 12 that I’ve done, and I’ve found an additional PowerPoint presentation (from a tutorial) that relates to Wordsworth and Shelly in one of the module forums.

My next task (on the build up to the TMA) is to start the close reading of the texts highlighted in the TMA, and to get my head around the bigger picture of “Home at Grassmere” (which is reading 1.4).

10 January 2023

An online tutorial to attend! This would have been the second I have attended. The first, of course, was ran by my tutor. 

Although I was tired from a day of work, I found this one useful in terms of getting a feel for what the TMA is asking for.

I almost volunteered to read out some of the passages, but someone got there before me (which is what I’m telling myself).

11 January 2023

I’ve downloaded the PowerPoint that the tutor used with her tutorial, which I found very useful (I’ll look at it again, in combination with the one that my own tutor provided).

My next step of prep work: I print out the text that we have to read closely, making sure that I make the font a bit bigger. I also leave spaces between the lines, so I can scribble with different coloured pens.

I’m not doing too much today since I’m mentally addled. The final thing I do today is mark off two days: one day for TMA related reading, and another day for TMA writing. If I get my energy back tomorrow, I’m going to pour over the TMA instructions, the fragments of text used with the TMA, and the accompanying TMA guidance. I feel I’m building up a ‘head of steam’ towards the writing of the TMA (even though I don’t yet feel that I’m understanding the bigger picture).

13 January 2023

I’ve managed to get started! I’ve started to add a bunch of notes into my TMA template file, dividing it up into different sections. I’ve also read the text, and have been underlining sections with different colours; each colour relating to a different theme.

I’ve pretty much prepped part 1, which I have to write up into an answer.

My next steps: a tutorial tomorrow, transfer notes from the tutorial into the TMA document, look through all the blocks again and highlight sections that are relevant, and then re-read the texts again.

I’m hoping that the last tutorial I’ll be attending before writing the assessment will help me to make sense of Wordsworth!

14 January 2023

Tutorial time. 

In this tutorial, we looked at a further fragment of a poem by Wordsworth, relating some of the technical language to the text. A useful tip was: “refer to the glossary”.

Towards the end of the tutorial, I wanted to ask a question (which was the broad question about the aim of a poem), and another student had a question about the structure of the TMA. Unfortunately, neither of us had our questions answered, since the tutorial didn’t have a Q&A section.

Thankfully, I have managed to answer my own question by going back to the module materials.

I spend the rest of the day preparing notes, and starting to write my TMA.

15 January 2023

Everything came together! I think I figured out what Wordsworth’s poem was all about, thanks to a very obscure reference in a paper that I discovered through the university library which was a source of inspiration.

17 January 2023

Submission day. I got a printout of my TMA and read through it with a cup of coffee and a pen, crossing out various sections, and finishing some partially completed sentences. I then submit the final version through the eTMA system, and send a quick note to my tutor, saying I no longer need an extension. It almost feels as if I’m back on target again.

18 January 2023

Back to the module materials. I’ve noticed I’m now slightly behind, so I start reading The Sandman by E.T.A.Hoffman. I quite like it, but I have no idea what it is all about. I get distracted by my day job, and have to return to my email inbox.

20 January 2023

Back to catching up. 

I finish reading The Sandman, and then get a printout of two of the other short stories that we have to read. Although these don’t feature within the TMAs, there is a possibility that they might be important when it comes to the EMA (which still feels a long way away).

My aim for today (which is a leave day from my main office work, except for an hour of training I have to do) is: read those two stories I’ve just printed, have another read of the block that relates to Hoffman, and then have a look through TMA 4 to get an early idea about what it is all about.

I want to have an early look at the next TMA since one of the students on a social media group mentioned that there is a book to go through that I haven’t (yet) had a chance to read.

21 January 2023

I didn’t manage to finish reading those two printouts, but I got pretty close. There was a bit of The Automata that took a bit longer to read. I found myself looking into the concept of the Mechanical Turk which I had heard about before (through my studies of computing).

Back to catching up: I worked through the audio-visual materials of weeks 15 and 16, making a set of notes as I go. I read Wuthering Heights (for the second time) over the summer, but I do need to have a proper read through of the block materials again.

Next step: reviewing where I am on the module website (whilst optimistically ticking off the current week), and looking to what is scheduled for the next few weeks ahead. I’ve already read The Sign of Four, so I’m going to prioritise reading The Beach of Falesá, since this is the text that features in the next TMA.

I feel as if I’m on target, which is good. I’m going to take a trip over the coming days, so I’ll make sure I’ve packed the module materials, the book by Stevenson, and my laptop.

25 January 2023

I spent the night at Milton Keynes, and I got up early and have a bit of time to kill before something called a Research Fiesta. I get back to reading The Beach of Falesá, and find my way through chapter 2. I was a bit confused about what was meant by all the “tabooing”, and some of the weird sentence structure Stevenson seems to adopt, but I’m starting to really like the story. I’m beginning to see where the module team are coming from in terms of the TMA question.

27 January 2023

A day on leave from most things, apart from some study. I read the penultimate chapter of The Beach of Falesá.

30 January 2023

On Sunday, I noticed that a fellow student had shared an article about a radio production of The Beach of Falesá, entitled Why Robert Louis Stevenson’s South Sea Tales go against the tides.

A quick search of BBC Sounds reveals a 2014 BBC Radio adaptation of the same text. I’ve listened to three quarters of it, getting to the part which I still need to read. I later discovered an accompanying Guardian article that relates to the recording.

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