12 November 22
I went to the London School of Economics for a face-to-face day school about prose, and two of the set texts: Candide and Oroonoko. There were two tutors on the day, and they gave us some small activities to carry out.
Our first tutor asked us to look at some bits of text, and assess it in terms of some of the technical language that was being introduced through the module. Our second tutor asked us to write on a post-it note: what was Oroonoko all about? Given that I had read Oroonoko over the summer (along with some of the other set texts), I struggled to carry out this task.
During the tutorial, I made a lot of notes.
One thing that I found really useful was that the tutors gave quite a lot of background information about the texts. I especially appreciated how they summarised the historical context. On the point about context, I noted down that there are a number of perspectives to consider: biographical context, historical context, philosophical, political and cultural.
Two things I need to look at: what the term ‘focalisation’ means, and ‘free indirect speech', which is something that Joyce uses.
The tutors were excellent! By the end of the day school, my head hurt. In a good way.
13 November 22
It’s time to catch up with some study admin.
I sort out all my notes from the day school, sort them in order. I have some other printouts that I prepared earlier this month. I have printed out each of the TMAs, and the EMA. I put everything together in my study file in date order, so everything relates back to the module calendar. (I also look for a neat one or two page summary of this on the module website, but there isn’t one).
I review the study calendar, and realise that I’m not too far off the schedule; I had to take a week out from study to help with some family things. I tick of the various items, and realise that I need to go through the poetry tutorial materials.
I have two objectives for the week; work through the materials that relate to Oroonoko (whilst strategically very quickly reviewing the text), before moving onto the week that focusses on Voltaire, whilst also trying to find the time to review the poetry tutorial materials.
A point I remember from the day school I attended was: it’s okay if you don’t understand everything in one go; you need to return to these tutorials on a number of occasions to get a firm grasp of the concepts.
A note to self: I need to have another go to create a “first thing in the morning” study habit.
It’s time for a break. When I return, I’m going to return to the study calendar, look at the notes for this week and next week, and then read the block materials again.
14 November 22
Well, I didn’t manage to do my studying first thing in the morning. Instead, I got onto it after resolving a few issues by email.
Yesterday my tutor had emailed me a set of notes which he had shared at the day school. Having printed them out, I worked through them, underlining some of the key concepts. I then filed them next to my day school notes.
After reviewing what I have to do for week 7, I have another look at the prose and poetry skills tutorials. I make a note of all the key concepts that are shared through these documents.
I notice that there was a reference to four audio recordings about the ‘long eighteenth century’. These recordings emphasise the historical role travel writing has during the time of empires, and how they have influenced the development of the novel. An interesting comment was how Oroonoko isn’t just a travelogue; it is also a romance. The audio clips also highlighted the role of the grand tour, and how here was a market for travel books.
As a very brief aside, around 15 years ago, I found a really interesting book (published by a publisher called ‘forgotten books’) about early travel writing in Poland. For a while, I found it fascinating, but I didn’t really know what I was reading. Although it was published in the 19th century, I can now see that the book was a part of a wider and more established tradition of travel writing.
All this discussion about travel writing has been a lovely surprise. Some years ago, I made my own very modest contribution to the genre, through a book sized blog called Meetup 101: a journey through a midlife crisis. Whilst it aims to adopt a comic mode (I’m applying terms from the skills tutorial!) It’s focus accidentally reflects some of the later themes in A230: cities.
My next bit of reading: the two chapters from the block, and then I’m going to focus on Candide, and then I might be in a good place to be set for the next TMA.
15 November 22
I’ve read the block chapters on Aphra Behn, and have read most of the chapter on Voltaire; I have a bit more to go, which I’ll hopefully manage to get through tomorrow.
In the evening, there was a tutorial! Our tutor took us through bits of the two texts from this block: Oroonoko and Candide. She introduced the context for each of these books, and we looked at some detailed passages. I made notes, and I feel a bit more confident about how to tackle the TMA.
Before getting there, I have to finish reading that chapter, and also read Candide again, now that I have more of an idea about what it is all about.
20 November 22
I have a day off from just about everything, so I settle down to read Candide again, paying particular attention to the introduction. After learning more about the context through the previous two tutorials I’ve attended I’m finding it a whole lot more interesting and enjoyable. Voltaire is funny, often through his understatement, but also (of course) his hyperbole.
My next steps: finish reading the 6 remaining chapters and then have a quick look through the notes that can be found at the back of the book. I also need to return to the module website to see what other materials I’ve got to go through.
There’s a tutorial tomorrow night, but it’s one that is recorded. I’ll try to go along if I can.
21 November 22
I had a quiet night, so I finished reading the final chapters of Candide.
It turns out that the tutorial isn’t tonight. It’s tomorrow.
22 November 22
First thing this morning I logged into the module website to see when the next TMA is due. It is sooner than I thought. This means that I need to get on and do my TMA over the weekend, perhaps on a Saturday or a Sunday.
My notes folder is getting a bit full, so I’ve moved it to a lever arch file, and have even added some dividers to separate to mark where the TMAs are.
I’m hoping to attend the tutorial this evening.
24 November 22
I transfer notes into my TMA document, and have started to analyse the text which forms the basis of the assignment. I pull together notes I made from tutorials, and points shared in documents that were prepared by the tutors.
I have three things to do before I can start writing properly: read the notes pages at the back of Candide, read the introduction again, and have another look at the block materials, making notes of certain paragraphs and sentences that will help me to summarise what a passage of Candide is all about.
25 November 22
It is TMA writing day. After making a start with the introduction yesterday, I work through the different bits of text that I’ve noticed, connecting them to some of the technical language we have been introduced to, and various quotes that I’ve noted down from Candide and the set text.
If I were writing a longer essay, I would have prepared an essay plan, but since this is quite short, and the aims and focus are quite clear, I’m winging it- My structure comes from the fragment of text that I have annotated, and the order in which I answer the questions. My results will tell me whether I’m adopting the right approach.
I finish the day by getting a printout of my TMA.
26 November 22
I begin the day by reviewing and copy editing my TMA, and then submitting it 5 days before the cut-off date.
Keeping up the momentum, I find out what I’ve got to do for week 10, and reach for Book 2: Romantics & Victorians.
I start to read some of the Wordsworth sections in the reading supplement, but I didn’t make much progress. I need a lot of concentration for Wordsworth, but I don’t seem to have this!