Another different type of writing is language analysis – you will be asked to do this for coursework at some point during your language course. It’s also known as your Assignment 1 coursework. You’ll be given a bunch of texts, ranging from poems to short stories, and then you’ll be asked to write an thorough analysis if you chose one, or a comparative analysis if you chose more than one. Sound simple? Not really.
First you’ll need a decent title – let’s take W.H. Auden’s Refugee Blues for an example (this is what I did my coursework on – you can find the link to it below). Bear this in mind – without a good working title, there’s a limit to how good your writing can be, so do spend time on this step. In Auden’s poem, in case you don’t know about it, there’s a couple who as the name suggests, are refugees. Look first at the content and the themes – with this poem, you’ll want to use either the theme of war, despair, fear, victimization or love.
Now let’s say we go with the theme of despair and fear (I’m just being lazy here because it’s what I chose). Avoid titles which have zero depth to them, for example “Is there fear and despair presented in Refugee Blues by W.H. Auden?” because even a six year old can tell you the answer to that. Merge the content and the themes together to form a title that has a lot to talk about, because more to talk about usually means more marks (in iGCSE at least – for more information, feel free to ask IB students about what their life is like). When I wrote about this piece, I liked the way that Auden made repeated use of “my dear” at the end of every stanza, which really brings out the romantic side of the poem. So in the end, my title was “To what extent does the couple experience despair and fear in Refugee Blues by W.H. Auden?” This way, not only could I show the examiner what I can do, but I can also argue with myself and say how my previous views could have been incorrect. Marks for first impression… check!
Now onto the main course. There’s not much I can help you with here, because every piece is different in its own aspects. However, what I can do is form you a criteria when looking at any given text:
- Firstly, the title. Before you even start looking at the central content, look at what the title can imply. Refugee Blues is actually a good example here – “refugee” implies war and fear, people that have gone through the blood and screams of war, and are still suffering from the effects of war. “Blues” is a type of music created and sung by slaves – you can read more about this in my essay below, how it could relate to the structure and pace of the poem, and how it could reflect what occurs in the poem.
- Look at the author. You might want to do some background checking on the author so you can mention it in your introduction, and take bits and pieces from the author’s life which could correlate to the context.
- Look at style and tone. Is the piece meant to be spoken or read? This could have an impact on the purpose of the piece – you can take some ideas from the Writing Triplets on the contents page.
- Who is it written or spoken for? Audience is also important – every piece of writing has an audience, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction. If the audience is specific, for example the author’s wife, what the audience represents could become a big part of your essay.
One of the more important things I haven’t mentioned yet is literary features – this piece is really a lot like the 12 mark question in Section A of your exam, except in more detail and you’ll actually have time to prepare for it. If you get the hang of this, there’s a limit to how bad you’ll do in Section A (note that this comment does not apply to English Literature).
Here are the two example analyses that I would recommend reading through in case you don’t understand what I used my blood and sweat type out above – sorry I couldn’t find any comparative ones!