This began when in seeking some of the underpinning of my attitude to (for example) Marxism I did a search for “grand narratives” and found this rather excellent note. On Facebook I remarked: An excellent explanation. And yes, I am very chary about all “grand narratives”….
That in turn made me think of the HSC Extension English Class I taught at Sydney Boys High from July to the end of 2002 — very much a catch-up exercise for a rather demoralised class. The topic was “Postmodernism” and the texts were Virginia Woolf’s Orlando (or rather the film of it) which I had never read or seen, John Fowles The French Lieutenant’s Woman, which I had read though years before, and David Williamson’s play Dead White Males. To say this was all a challenge is an understatement! The former teacher of the class had been forced through no fault of her own to take early retirement, and I was sent in to plug the hole!
So I did a lot of work in preparation and decided to harness my still rather new blogging skills for the task. The result may be found on my mothballed English and ESL blog! Workshop 06 — Year 12 Extension 1: pomo 2002. And on results — I should explain first Extension subjects have four different bands: E4, E3, E2 and E1 — with E4 being the highest band. It represents (converting to %) a performance rated between 90 and 100!
Post HSC Entry:
Of the eight E4 bands given to SBHS we got 5!
14 of you got 40 or better out of 50!
The state awards for E4 amounted to 15.96% — SBHS attained 13.55%
OUR CLASS attained 22.72%!
I am happy; hope you are too.
Good luck to you all for the future.
Neil Whitfield December 2002
My first entry:
This is a special site for the 2002 HSC English Extension Class studying Post-Modernism. Today I will be putting in basic links for you. Hey, I found all this: so can you! Keep coming back as notes, questions, all manner of stuff will appear here–but not pics, though we may link to some if necessary.
Just for fun: The Post Modern Generator. You too can write meaningless but impressive post modern essays.Unfortunately that PM Generator no longer exists! See our ABC though: “It’s essentially a website which generates random literary essays which sound good, but are actually complete bollocks. The essays come with sub-headings and plausible looking footnotes.” It was great fun!
All this was being done on the blogging site I then favoured: Diary-X. Well, we know what happened to Diary-X!
Links updated 2006
This is really quite an old site now, but it seems that there is still a demand for it. I put it up on Diary-X for a Year 12 English Extension class (2002) at Sydney Boys High. In February 2006 Diary-X crashed and burned:
February 24, 2006
There is no easy way for me to say this. Diary-X has suffered from an unrecoverable drive failure. Due to a combination of issues, the last backup (from December 2004) contained only configuration files and other non-essential files. We do not have any other backups for the site. All journals, user information, forum posts, templates, images, and everything else are all irrecoverably lost…
Thanks to Yahoo Search, I was able to recover cached entries.
You may like the “less conventional” practice questions I set for the students.
1. Write a parody script of a mainstream TV sitcom OR lifestyle program. Use character/presenter names and an appropriate program title to cue the reader in. Try to focus your parody on the identity/construct assumptions, or the positioning of the responder, on which the original program relies.
2. Choose a character from one of your set texts. Place this character in a different context, even perhaps one of the other set texts. This need not be a serious piece of writing, but should reflect some of the issues postmodernism characteristically addresses.
3. Write a self-reflective prose piece that aims from the outset to force the responder to confront his/her own cultural constructs.
4. Taking your cue from the use of Shakespeare in Dead White Males, write a dialogue OR a narrative in which one of your own favourite composers from the Western Canon (Dickens? Donne? Homer? Socrates? Sophocles?….but not Shakespeare!) encounters a “disciple” of Postmodernism.
5. Write a series of five short letters (minimum 50 words, maximum 200 words each) to the Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald from people of various ages, gender and background who are advocates or opponents of the study of Postmodernism in Year 12. Make reference to at least ONE set text in the course of this series.
It turned out to be an extremely pleasing experience, that whole thing! But talk about pressure!
And I see at least one of the members of that class has found same fame since! Meet Phil Lesnie.