The main thing that I’ve absorbed from this part of the course is how to identify and use poetic devices. Because I’m a big fan of poetry, it is incredibly helpful to understand how writers achieve things like rhythm and imagery. Like with the Hero’s Journey, I realise that these aren’t cheatsheets to writing/reading but they do serve as guidelines that help break down poetry or prose into more basic and understandable terms. Just like with all things related to art, it is very important to know the rules in order to be able to break or transform them when appropriate.
Because novels are typically longer and written in prose, I had never thought to look at them as sharing similar characteristics with poetry. I feel that my perspective towards literature has expanded and that I was able to apply some of this new insight to my assignment. I have looked at my chosen passage more as a combination of imagery, prose, mood, language, rhythm and structure than simply as any normal passage from a book. I am excited to begin reading more novels and poetry and be able to see things a bit differently and a bit more in-depth.
I have also learned more about the themes of time and place (and some others) and the different ways they can be explored. From the praises of Dylan Thomas to the social commentaries of John Betjeman, from the romanticised descriptions of Ray Bradbury to the depressing words of Cormac McCarthy, I was able to see many ways in which writers represent time and place, each evoking a different mood, emotion, imagery, or memory.
In my final assignment, I was able to explore something that I hadn’t before in the previous exercises; a lack of time and place. What does it mean that there is no time and place? This poses important questions about the subjectivity of these two themes and how most of their definitions rely on our own personal interpretations and perceptions. Time keeps track of (but is also tracked by) things such as day and night, change and transformation (such as pickled cucumbers and ageing), clocks, life and death, movement, cause and effect, etc. When you remove these things, it is hard to understand how time works, as is the case with Shevek in The Dispossessed. Only after seeing many representations and definitions of time and place in the previous exercises was I able to begin asking myself questions about how changes in (or a lack of) time and place relate to us.