Readers, writers, texts

The language and literature course is really a course in textual analysis. There are many skills that you will develop throughout this course, from constructing coherent paragraphs to deconstructing an image. But these skills are all useful for analysing texts. 

  1. When you hear the phrase 'textual analysis', what comes to mind? As a class write a definition that you like. Then compare it to the one below.

  2. So what does textual analysis look like? Watch this video of Damien Hirst, in which he describes how he created a work of art. Think of his artwork as a 'text'. After you watch the video, duscuss your answers to these questions as a class: Why did he create this work? How did he decide to build his art to fulfil his intentions? How has his artwork been received?

  3. In order to analyse any text, from a poem to a poster, what kinds of questions must we ask? In brief there are really three agents involved in this process of constructing and deconstructing 'meaning': the reader, the writer and the text. The diagram below captures four questions we should ask when analysing texts. You can remember this diagram with the acronym MAPS: Meaning = Audience + Purpose + Style. Watch the video of Damien Hirst again and discuss how these four questions help us analyse For the Love of God.

  5. Could anything be considered a 'text'? If we take the definition of a 'text' as anything that conveys meaning, then anything meaningful, from a pop concert to a t-shirt, could be considered a 'text'. Discuss how the four questions from the MAPS diagram relate to each text in the list below. You may do an online search for the unknown items in the list.
    • The Alessi Juicy Salif
    • Uniform of the Miami Dolphins
    • A Nike Air Jordan shoe
    • The Taj Mahal
    • Any work of art by Keith Haring

  6. The method of analysing texts, as introduced on this page, is known known as 'formalism'. Formalism is a school of literary theory and philosophy that suggests that meaning of anything can be ascertained by studying its parts (or 'forms'). The IB has identified 3 'Areas of Exploration', or 'AOEs', which are also methods for analysing texts and works. Formalism and MAPS corresponds with the first AOE called 'Readers, Writers, Texts', or 'RWT' (in case you do not have enough acronyms in your life). The IB has provided 6 questions to help you explore texts using this AOE. Find any text that interests you and discuss your answers to one or more of these questions with a classmate in relation to your texts.
    • How and why do people study language and literature?
    • How are readers affected by texts in different ways?
    • In what ways do readers and writers construct ‘meaning’ through texts?
    • How can the use of language in different types of texts vary?
    • How does the style or structure of a text affect its meaning?
    • How can texts challenge readers or offer insight?
Last modified: Monday, 3 February 2020, 1:53 PM