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Approaches to Text wk 4 (2016)

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Matthew McGuire

on 17 March 2016

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Transcript of Approaches to Text wk 4 (2016)

Approaches to Text (week 4)

An Elegant Young Man
Luke Carman

Dr Matt McGuire
m.mcguire@westernsydney.edu.au

Todays lecture...

1. Introduce the novel

2. Opening scene

3. Race out west

4. Books, Reading,
Literature
What is An Elegant Young Man about?
Approaches to Text - announcements

1. Submission date for assignment 1 has been changed
It is NO LONGER due on Fri 25th March; instead it IS due on Tues 29th March by 4pm. Submit via turnitin on Vuws site.

2. The Library Study Smart service (formerly known as Library Roving) has commenced. Study Smart is available to all students to assist them with study skills, assignment analysis, critical thinking, essay structure and academic communication skills. Please see the Study Smart operating hours at your campus library.

3. Next week - Mohammed Ahmad and Luke Carman will be reading and doing a Q&A.
Lets remind ourselves of what we are trying to do in this Unit.

Approaches to Text Unit Learning Outcomes

1. Demonstrate skills in sustained and careful reading of literary texts. READING

2. Identify and interpret a range of key literary techniques. TECHNIQUES

3. Apply a range of methods and theories of reading and textual analysis.

4. Demonstrate skills in academic and critical writing, including WRITING
responding to feedback to improve writing.

5. Demonstrate ways in which different cultural and international AUSTRALIA
contexts influence the reading and writing of Australian literary texts. for us WESTERN SYDNEY
1. what it means to be young
white, working class guy
in W Sydney
2. Relationships; falling in and out of love when you are twenty
3. Being a white kid in a school that is over 95% other ethnicities
(Liverpool Boys High)
4. September 9/11
5. Going to the beach...
Quintessential Australian activity...?
What about if you're from the west and that beach is Cronulla...?
6. The West vs the Inner West
Hipsters; class; authenticity

7. Books and reading
8. Roadtrip
- in search of Australia...

Opening scene....

- IDEA of a signpost

- Let's listen to Luke reading the opening scene of the book

After...
Q "How is this book different from The Tribe?" (DISCUSS)

(Think about STYLE and CONTENT)
1. OBSERVE - 'My name is Luke Francis Carman...."

DESCRIBE - narrator has same name as author.

INTERPRET - goes against what we have been told (ie
can't just equate the narrator with the author)
- is the book deliberately messing with the
rules / our expectations...?
- truth of story....? Or, author messing with
us...? Q of reliability....?



2. OBSERVE - 'I saw Groucho Marx....I found someone the
other day... I read it on the back of a truck...'

DESCRIBE - 1st person narrative ('I saw... I found...) as
opposed to 3rd person Narrative ('He saw...
He found....)

INTERPRET - importance of VOICE
IDEA - Who is entitled to tell stories about
West Syd....?
IDEA - Who should we be listening to if we
want to understand this world...?

TENSION BETWEEN AUTHENTICITY & UNRELIABILITY
3. STYLE / TONE of NARRARIVE

OBSERVE - 'Don't call me Mr Carman... Y'know what I read the other
day.... I'm serious....'

DESCRIBE - Casual; conversational; intimate; directly addressing
the reader; naturalistic; vernacular; everyday speech

INTERPRET -
self effacing; not wanting to be an authority figure (like
his father); realistic? trustworthy? Is this even LITERATURE...?


4. SUBJECT of PASSAGE

OBSERVE - What does he talk about? - his name; his mother; not
looking like his father; facial hair; Groucho Marx; death;
memory; heritage listing; loneliness; Walt Whitman)


DESCRIBE - frenetic; free association; skipping from subject to
subject; naturalistic; stream of consciousness

INTERPRET - what is
in the narrator's head seems almost as important
as what is out there in the world.
Idea - Lack of control over thoughts... the world generally...?

CF TECHNIQUE MODERNIST FICTION - stream of
consciousness
5. REFERENCES....

OBSERVE - Likes referring to other people (Groucho; Whitlam; Walt Whitman; Allen Ginsberg; Dr Seuss; Professor Dawkins; Bob Dylan; Cate Blanchett; Heath Ledger... 9 in first 3 pages!!!)

DESCRIBE - highly referential; intertextuality (to understand this text you need to be aware of these other texts)

INTERPRETATION - Walt
Whiitman 19th century American poet
- 'Leaves of Grass' - 1300 line epic poem 1855

"Let that which stood in front go behind,
let that which was behind advance to the front,
let bigots, fools, unclean persons, offer new propositions
let the old propositions be postponed..."

Luke Carman - 'Whitman reckoned there was as much to
me as any poem, maybe more...'

IDEA - shadow over the rest of book....?

****** TREATS BOOKS LIKE THEY ARE ALIVE

******* CONVERSATION WITH DEAD AUTHORS
6. Plot or What Happens...?

OBSERVE - - Scene is literally about finding some old book, walking round Liverpool with it, having a conversation with it/its author, then putting it back where he got it

DESCRIBE - limited; uneventful; not very dramatic
IDEA - cf opening The Tribe (SYMBOLISM & LIT FICTION)

INTERPRET - Is that deliberate? Something we should
think about?
Q narrator not knowing what the plot is
supposed to be for his life...?
Q lack of plot in hi life - aimless, no
adventure, no choice, no purpose, no direction
Q related to where he comes from..? The world of
the book? How he perceives it?

Q AN ANALOGY FOR READING...? CONVERSATION WITH A DEAD AUTHOR....?
2. MULTI-CULTURALISM RACE RACISM

OBSERVE - "...seems like there is a lot of stuff about race in here..."
(general / vague idea / an impression)

LOOK MORE CLOSELY.....

- scene between narrator's father and the new Lebanese neighbours
- scene where narrator listens to taxi drivers tirade
- scene when Livo boys go to Cronulla
- scene where there is a fight outside kebab shop; white Aussies and Turkish owner ('we're ANZACs bro...we fucked you up then, we'll fuck you up now)
- scene where kabab shop owner protects narrator from Toepa's brother
- scene at school after 9/11 attacks
- scene in St Peter's park when homeless Aboriginal man tells mc white poetry readers to F off.
- this is a kind of REPETITION, right....?

Therefore, it seems reasonable to suggest that RACE is one of the major THEMES of the book.

Lets get into the DETAIL SCENE - father and new neighbours


REMEMBER - WE TALKED ABOUT
SPOTTING PATTERNS
- the sheer number of scenes that
have a racial element to them would
sugegest that this is one of the main
THEMES in the book
1. OBSERVE - 'Jesus Christ... They've got young kids and I
think they're Lebbos....'
- used as a term of denigration by the father

DESCRIBE - language use; word choice;

INTERPRET - 'Lebbo' is normally used in a derogatory or racist way. Therefore, we might conclude that the narator's father is a racist.

Q Is this too simple though...?

2. OBSERVE - Neighbour
- 'It's good to meet you Joey. Us Lebbos got to stick together.' (derogatory or everyday speech....?)
3. OBSERVE - what father actually does.
'went over with a bag of chillies and beans from the garden.'
Q Is this the action of a racist person?

4. OBSERVE - rest of father's speech
'I'm no Lebbo.... I'm Italian baby.'
- how were Italian immigrants treated in the 1950s/1960s?
- DESCRIBE ..... USE OF IRONY

5. OBSERVE - 'He recounted all this to me with a secret smile
that hides his missing teeth, a devilish light in his eyes.'
- Describe - ambiguous; father is playful in a knowing way.

6. OBSERVE - NEXT SCENE
'I don't care if you are black, white or fucking purple, but let me
tell you something, son: shit is shit.'
- Egalitarian? Not words, or appearances, but actions that count.

***** TO INTERPRET THIS SCENE WE OBSERVED 6 THINGS

*******A GOOD INTERPRETATION THEN OFFERS MORE THAN ONE PIECE OF TEXTUAL EVIDENCE

******** MEANING NOT ALWAYS OBVIOUS; REVEALED AT
SINGLE GLANCE
1. What narrator says....
'When I was a kid I used to read more than anyone else and now I think
I’m sick of it. I’ve been trying to read The Adventures of Augie March
lately. I’ve decided to quit. The thing is I’m a quarter of the way in and
it doesn’t look like he’s ever going to go adventuring. They say The
Adventures of Augie March is the Great American Novel – but to me
it’s no better than The Great Gatsby, and I don’t care for Fitzgerald all
that much. Sometimes I’m not sure there’s much difference between one novel and the next.' (13)


2. IDEA - looking for answers / understanding in books
Q Is this similar to what we are all doing in English studies...?


3. SCENE - opening.
- a conversation with Walt Whitman; agrees and disagrees with him
- leaves Whitman back where he found him & walks away
LITERAL & SYMBOLIC reading of this...?


4. PATTERN - NOVEL AS A WHOLE - SHEER REPETITION OF AUTHORS & BOOKS
- 27 different writers mentioned
- Dostoevsky, Fitzgerald, Hemmingway, Kerouac, Dylan Thomas,
- INTERPRETATION..? Obsessed....? Looking for answers....?
IDEA - to better understand W Sydney, you need these guys....
A SPECIFIC EXAMPLE - INTERTEXTUALITY

On the Road (1957)

- bible of 1960s counter culture
- rejecting society and taking off
- Sal Paradise, and his friend Dean Moriarty, - road trip across America
- carefree attitude and sense of adventure


KEY IDEA - the search for something meaningful to hold on to...

KEY IDEA - the tale of passionate friendship and the search for revelation...

KEY IDEA - 'ecstatic experience' (living fully in the moment)

EXTRACT from ESSAY by Robert McCrum (full essay on Vuws)

'In 1855, a young American poet named Walt Whitman announced, with typical gusto, that “the United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem”, and made good on this claim in a landmark collection of poems, Leaves of Grass, transforming America’s literary imagination for ever. When, exactly 100 years later, Jack Kerouac began to hammer out the typescript of his own masterpiece, he was consciously responding to Whitman’s challenge “to express the inexpressible”. This would become Kerouac’s lifelong ambition and it expressed itself as On the Road.

To Kerouac, Whitman’s “I hear America singing” was almost an epigraph. On the Road pulsates to the rhythms of 1950s America: jazz, sex, drugs, and the desperate hunger of a new generation for experiences that are passionate, exuberant and alive to the heartbreaking potential of the present moment.'

Q How does AEYM import these ideas into contemporary Ausralia?

Q Can you reject society? Take off? Find your own 'ecstatic truth'?

How does On the Road figure in An Elegant Young Man....?

1. PLOT - Rare Birds chapter (end of book)
Narrator and girlfriend (Louise) take off on a round Australia type road trip (v similar to the one in On The Road)
Q How does this end? Is an ecstatic truth revealed?

2. Q CAN YOU REJECT SOCIETY.....?
OBSERVE - WHAT NARR SAYS
'All Kerouac ever did was teach boys that drinking wine and tapping keys is poetry and it shits me to tears because you don't realise that Australia... doesn't have a damn thing to do with Kerouac.' (144)

3. OBSERVE - PLOT
Narr goes to rescue Kat who, after Kerouac, has dropped out and joined a group of hippies in Gerringong - 'Kerouac was wrong... Australia is not a place for ecstatic truth... there is no beat to keep.... you really can fall off a mountain, you can fall and fall again...' (148)
- phoniness of counter culture

4. 'People say poetry is dead. Only I don't think it's ever been alive in this country.' (149)

ASSESSMENT PASSAGE - POETRY READING WITH HIPSTERS IN SYDNEY PARK IN PETERSHAM
Is AEYM an anti-literary novel....?

- making fun at book festival
- poncy Newtown poetry readings
- leaving Whitman back on the rubbish pile
- rejecting Kerouac

Argument - this is in fact a highly contrived and a very literary text....

PICARESQUE NOVEL

- 17th century; a genre of prose fiction which depicts the adventures of a roguish hero of low social class who lives by his wits in a corrupt society. Use of satire & comedy.

- 'picaro' Spanish for 'rogue' or 'rascal'; outsider; exaggerator; unreliable .

1749
Todays lecture...

1. Introduce the novel

2. Opening scene

3. Race out west

4. Books, Reading, Literature

NEXT WEEK - MOHAMMED AND LUKE

2014 - a Sydney Morning Herald Young Writer of the Year
2015 - awarded NSW Premier's Award for New Writing
2015 - shortlisted for the Readings New Writing Prize
2015 - shortlisted for ALS (Australian Literary Studies) Gold Medal
3. Books, reading, literature

Let's watch the trailer...
Q what is the narrator's attitude to books?
Full transcript