237130_Wk8_Task#1_Critical and Contextual Studies Tool Kit

Planning and Preparation

  • Highlighting key words or phrases within the task and writing out what I need to do in my own words.
  • Doing a “brain dump” of all my ideas in their rawest forms.
  • Using MindMup to create mind maps which allow me to visualise how key ideas and points are linked.
  • Writing down all my ideas as sentences or phrases that I can work into a body of text.

Writing Skills

  • Identifying my style of writing so that I can expand and improve on my current methods.
  • Using a formal, academic tone; no contractions, no personal pronouns.
  • Contextualising; providing the viewer with “the big picture” before embarking on in-depth description or analysis.
  • Expressing ideas in a concise, specific manner by discarding any unnecessary text that doesn’t aid in the reader’s understanding of my point.
  • Linking all ideas to one another, and to any sources or visual texts I reference.
  • Working quotes into the text so they support and exemplify ideas.
  • Acknowledging all influences with in-text citations and a Works Cited list in MLA style, and by giving credit to the author of an idea when paraphrasing.
  • Taking a break before rereading my essay aloud to check for mistakes or inconsistencies.

Content and Visual Text Analysis Tools

  • Doing a brain dump of every physical aspect of the visual text so I can form an in-depth description of it.
  • Interpreting what each individual aspect of the text means, as well as the text as a whole.
  • Writing down every idea the artefact inspires in me as rough sentences which can then be refined and worked into a body of text.
  • Examining the implicit as well as the explicit.
  • Placing the visual text in context.

Research and Information Gathering Tools and Protocols

  • Identifying key words within the question to break down the topic and identify the main points my research should be based around.
  • Using credible sources to locate visual texts and information: ARTstor, Discover, Massey Library catalogue, and Google Scholar. Other trustworthy sources of information could include academic books/journal articles, libraries, and museums.
  • Checking the copyright license before use.
  • Narrowing down my search results in order to pinpoint more relevant information by using artists, artworks, ideas, or themes that I find in an original search result as a basis for a new search.
  • Note taking – underlining key phrases in the text and jotting ideas next to these (printed media); watching videos and writing down key quotes or ideas (video);  writing down any information I find in my own words rather than copying it straight from the source in order to avoid plagiarism (web).

237130_A2_Wk4_Task#1_Part B_Planning and Preparation_Approaches to essay planning and writing_15/04/16

EDIT Assessment 2, Week 4, Task 1B copy
McGrath, Molly. Advantages and disadvantages of the various approaches to essay planning and writing. Photograph. 15 April 2016.

Unlike the architect writer, I struggle to make a plan for my essay (or even drafts), and tend to “plunge” into my work as the diver writer does. However, I differ from the diver writer in that I usually have a fair idea of what my essay is going to be about before I begin. I do tend to cut out and add in material while in the process of writing an essay; chopping and changing out sentences as I develop my key points and alter my ideas. In this way, I take inspiration from the patchwork style of essay writing – although I don’t tend to make, revisit, or add to drafts. My ideas are almost fully-formed in my head before I write them down, and therefore they do not need to be “fitted together” with the kind of planning a patchwork writer requires.

I am, without a doubt, a grand plan writer. First and foremost, I like to examine every aspect of the essay brief to ensure I’m addressing as much of it as possible. Rigorous reading, research, and note-taking and retaking allows me to form a rough but coherent essay in my mind, which I’ll then write, revising as I go.

Reading that this was actually a common method of going about writing an essay was somewhat reassuring for me, as I had assumed the way I approached essay writing wasn’t very appropriate for the academic environment. Everybody else seemed to do large amounts of planning, drafting, and redrafting; something I’ve never felt the need to do.

237130_A2_Wk4_Task#1_Part A_Understanding the task_Planning and Preparation_Identifying an analytic essay_02/04/16

The purpose of an analytic essay is to argue a particular point of view and convince the reader to adopt this view (Merk) by “defining the subject, exploring the subject, and drawing conclusions”(Clarke, 148).

The level of perception in an analytic essay is determined by the depth with which the student addresses the essay brief. This perception marks the difference between an analytic essay and other genres of academic writing. Informative or descriptive essays are straightforward “expository writings” (Merk), whereas an analytic essay requires the author to adopt critical thinking in order to examine, interpret and contextualise the essay topic/question (Clarke, 25, 148) and make a potent, convincing case around a belief that stems from this analysation (Lundberg).

The implicit requirements of an essay brief must be addressed in addition to those that are demanded outright (Clarke, 166). By combining one’s point of view regarding each of these aspects with research and evidence from the text one should be able to successfully construct a well-argued analytic essay (Clarke, 167).


237130_A1_Wk3_Task #1_Understanding key terms_The relevance of context to critical thinking_14/03/2016

In essence, critical thinking is the act of in-depth analysation. In order to analyse we must identify the aspects of an artefact that define it (Clarke, 25); its distinguishing features, origins, and the intent behind its creation (Ruszkiewicz, et al., 32). These aspects are what form the context of a visual text. Without context, a subject is less understandable. When we are provided with the context of a subject we are given background information, and can therefore form new opinions based off the way this information has changed our view of the subject (Clarke, 25).

237130_A1_Wk2_Task #1_Field Trip Site description and analysis_Slow Boat Records on Cuba_16/03/2016

Slow Boat Records is a long stretch of a store set in a slight alcove halfway down Cuba Street – number 183, to be exact. Its outer walls are bedecked with musical posters and paraphernalia, and faded yellow signage announces its name and purpose; SLOW BOAT RECORDS. BUY SELL TRADE; RECORDS, COMPACT DISCS, TAPES.
The blazing red emblem – a junk ship silhouetted against a half-set sun – is what allows pedestrians who spare Slow Boat a passing glance to connect with what the store has to offer. It exists primarily to make available the music that was at its prime prior to the store’s establishment in 1989, the kind of music that has become hard to find online or in chain stores. Slow Boat Records allows its customers to take home their own little piece of the past in the form of audio.

McGrath, Molly. Doorway/entrance of Slow Boat Records. Photograph. Slow Boat Records. Cuba Street. Wellington.

Cardboard cutouts that dangle in the window of David Bowie and Elvis in their signature get-ups reflect the styles of people passing by and through the store. Men in sleek business suits who have jumped on the hipster-combover hairstyle bandwagon resemble modernised Presley’s, while more daring expressionists with made-up faces and bizarrely printed shirts reflect Ziggy Stardust’s style.
Some choose to portray their musical appreciation in a subtler manner; people in well loved t-shirts with faded band logos can be seen frequently milling in and around Slow Boat – staff included.

McGrath, Molly. Employee at Slow Boat Records. Photograph. Slow Boat Records. Cuba Street. Wellington.

Stacks of records and CD’s sprinkled with dust garnered from the storage rooms out back fill the maze of shelves inside. The unobtrusive lighting and constant beat of background music creates a calming and welcoming atmosphere. Ultimately, the store is a place for lovers of song to come together and celebrate their collective tastes. It is a safe haven in which to relax and meet others to whom you can relate and connect and, most importantly, to find and rediscover the music you know and love.

McGrath, Molly. Selfie with Slow Boat Records storefront. Photograph. Slow Boat Records. Cuba Street. Wellington.

237130_A1_Wk1_Task #1_An introduction_06/03/2016

When you are raised in a small town, you will develop one of two mindsets. The first of these mindsets is that moving elsewhere is not an option. Your birthplace is the place you remain, because it was the first place you ever knew; therefore it is your home. The second mindset is held by a very marginal collection of people. These people feel imprisoned by the dusty customs and officious beliefs they are expected to adopt as their own when they live in one of said small towns. This feeling of imprisonment often results in the mindset that ones’ current home has nothing more to offer and that to glean any sort of fulfilment from life, one must leave. My mindset is that of the latter, and I am one of the people who left behind my small town.

Te Awamutu – my previous home – is a town where tradition will always be favoured over innovation and originality, and where physicality is valued more than intelligence. I was always a “weird kid”, who’d prefer to read fiction and write poems instead of playing sport. “Weird kids” – the kind of kids who grow up to be artistic outcasts – are not truly welcome in small towns like Te Awamutu. They find these towns suffocating, anyway. I found my home suffocating, so I set out to find a new one.
Wellington provides me with the freedom I need to live a life where I can “breathe”; and by breathe, I mean “express myself without fear of oppression or dismissal”. Wellington is where I belong.
Here I can aspire to be like the people I have idolised since I was very young.

Neil Finn, who escaped from the same small town as I did and managed to “make it big”.

Cover art of ‘Crowded House’; the debut album by Crowded House. Finn (lead singer) is in the bottom right corner. Seymour, Nick. “Crowded House”. Painting. New Zealand. “Crowded House (album)”. en.wikipedia.org. Jimmy Wales. 15 January 2016. Web. 6 March 2016.

Chris Riddell, who found a niche in the field of illustration and used his work to inspire children to explore their creativity and aspire to great things.

Miscellaneous sketch by Chris Riddell, one of his ‘cash book drawings’. Riddell, Chris. “Sketchbook”. chrisriddellblog.tumblr.com. Tumblr.com. 16 October 2015. Web. 6 March 2016.

Tony DiTerlizzi, who created other worlds with ink and brush in order to keep alive the imagination of any child who felt they might be losing theirs.

Various drawings/paintings of the character Thimbletack from “The Spiderwick Chronicles”. DiTerlizzi, Tony. Watercolour, Pencil. Liu, Jonathan H. “The Spiderwick Chronicles Turns 10!”. geekdad.com. Ken Denmead. 8 May 2013. Web. 6 March 2016.

And Chuck Jones, who “took his work, but not himself, seriously” (Chuck Jones), and inspired me to do the same.

Still from ‘What’s Opera, Doc?’ (1957), an episode of Merrie Melodies by Chuck Jones for Warner Bros. Cartoons. Quixotando. “Ken Russell is Dead”. “24 Frames: What’s Opera Doc? (Chuck Jones 1957)”. quixotando.wordpress.com. WordPress.com. 31 July 2011. Web. 6 March 2016.

These four men have been my constant sources of wonderment, laughter, and hope. I want to influence others the way they have influenced me. If my art – whether it be illustration, painting, model making, or digital design – can be somebody’s reason to smile, to strive, or just to keep breathing, I will have reached self-fulfillment. The leaving of my small town will be justified. I will be content.