Your teacher will guide you through learning experiences that will demystify the module rubric and assist you in analysing Shakespeare’s representations of “…events, personalities or situations”. This material will support that learning with resources and activities that will challenge your thinking assist you in formulating a personal response and possibly fill in any gaps in your understanding of the concepts being studied. Work through each section separately or in chronological order, depending on your level of need.
By the time you study Shakespeare in Year 12, you will have undoubtedly explored his historical, social and cultural context on numerous occasions. However, in Module C, where there is a deliberate emphasis on the act of ‘representation’, a clear understanding of the conventions of tragedy, Shakespearean language, Elizabethan theatre, Elizabethan audiences and Shakespeare’s source material is essential.
Below are a series of links that will guide you through the essentials. Be a critical thinker – what site best suits your needs? Are you a Shakespearean beginner, intermediate or expert? How will you translate the combination of visual and written language into useful notes that could be used in an extended response?
Shakespeare and his world
Julius Caesar – History
A useful activity would be to compare two or more websites and their representations of the “historical facts” of Caesar’s life, especially the assassination. This activity will most certainly lead to the discovery of related text material.
Julius Caesar the play
Film representation of the assassination of Julius Caesar
Significant world events, people and situations – a starting point for related texts other than texts that represent the events/personalities/situations of Julius Caesar
Enter each event into Google, or any other search engine, and compare the conflicting perspectives arising. Analyse the Internet as the medium of production: how does the composer position you as the responder? Consider audience and purpose. Is the composer biased?
Online Video Resources
Search for the following video clips:
All of the online videos referenced here allow you to comment on the quality and content of the video. Most of the respondents are English students. Contribute a thread to one of the discussions about your study of conflicting perspectives. Does your perspective conflict with anyone else?
It is essential that you familiarise yourself with the module rubric. The rubric is where the HSC question will be formulated. Applying the language and meaning of the rubric to your prescribed text and related texts results in a thorough understanding of the texts and concepts, leaving little room for surprises or “trick questions” on the day of your examination. This will guide you through a deconstruction of the rubric that can be applied to Julius Caesar and related texts, an activity that you can modify for any of your modules.
What is the rubric telling you to do?
Below the rubric is represented as a checklist, instead of several paragraphs as it appears in the syllabus. This checklist also appears in the form of a summary table which you can expand as a tool for the summary of Julius Caesar and any related text material.
|Rubric instruction||What you have to do…|
|Students explore various representations of events.||
|Students explore various representations of personalities.||
|Students explore various representations of situations.||
||Medium – Julius Caesar is a play that was written to be performed, but you will be most familiar with the script. Over the course of your study you may see a theatre production and view a film version – how do these mediums of production influence meaning?
Textual form – Your prescribed text is a drama (play script), you must evaluate the consequences of performance choices such as staging, casting and appropriating.
Perspective – Your context, Shakespeare’s context, the context of the viewing public of any appropriation of the text or any text that deals with the same events/personalities/situations, the perspective of the characters within the text.
Choice of language – Shakespearean language needs to be considered in terms of verse, prose, iambic pentameter, imagery, allusion, figurative language, irony, etc.
|The study develops students’ understanding of the relationships between representation and meaning.||
|In their responding and composing, students consider the ways in which conflicting perspectives on events, personalities or situations are represented in their prescribed text.||Revisit the definitions from the Stage 6 English syllabus:
Text Summary Table
|Rubric instruction||Example from the text||Analysis||Quote/Evidence|
|Students explore various representations of events.||E.g. The assassination of Julius Caesar.||Brutus and Antony conflict in their perspectives as to what motivated Caesar politically. Brutus needs to convince the Plebians that the assassination was for the good of Rome and not a betrayal of Rome. Antony wants to convince the Plebians that Caesar was a good and noble leader and not an ambitious future dictator. Comparing the two speeches after the funeral of Caesar reveals the two perspectives. Shakespeare uses speech structure, irony, rhetorical questions, repetition, emotive language, pause, caesura/enjambment and listing of key events, to represent each character’s perspective of Julius Caesar and the reason for his assassination.||Brutus: …As Caesar loved me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as/ he was valiant, I honour him; but, as he was ambitious, I slew him… (Act III ii 21-23).
Antony: When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:/ Ambition should be made of sterner stuff;/ Yet Brutus says he was ambitious,/ And Brutus is an honourable man. (Act III ii 83-86)
|Students explore various representations of personalities.|
|Students explore various representations of situations.|
|The study develops students’ understanding of the relationships between representation and meaning.|
|In their responding and composing, students consider the ways in which conflicting perspectives on events, personalities or situations are represented in their prescribed text.|
As mentioned earlier, the key to being prepared for the HSC examination, is knowing your rubric. Secondly, paying attention to the assessment criteria at the top of each question in your examination booklet (usually two to three dot points), enables you to compose a response that addresses exactly what the examiner wants.
Below is the top part of page 8 of the 2006 HSC Advanced English examination. The two bullet points are the assessment criteria that tell you specifically what should be contained in your response. Addressing these and the key points in the question will ensure you maximise your chances at achieving the best results of which you are capable.
Section III — Module C: Representation and Text
20 marks Attempt ONE question from Questions 12–14. Allow about 40 minutes for this section.
Answer the question in a SEPARATE writing booklet. Extra writing booklets are available.
In your answer you will be assessed on how well you:
Sample Essay Questions
Board of Studies NSW (1999) Stage 6 Syllabus English Preliminary and HSC Courses.
Shakespeare, William (2004) Julius Caesar, Cambridge University Press, New Cambridge Shakespeare.
All website references are directly available and accessible throughout the body of the text. No information has been paraphrased from text available on these websites.