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1.5 Demonstrating authority - Advanced

Authority over one’s ideas is important in all spheres of life. It comes in part from recognising where authority is due and for what reasons. Authority is justifiably conferred by each of us on people, texts and institutions as we examine their power, test their limits and question their validity. In challenging authority, some things are gained and some things are lost.

The activities you have completed in this section involved you understanding the basis of some authority and experimenting with textual authority by intervening in a text. These activities show that you do not have to accept the position adopted in a text.

When you intervene in a text you change its meaning and shift the significance of particular values or ideas and may even remove them entirely. To see how this works, read one of Carol Ann Duffy’s poems from her collection The World’s Wife and consider:

  • how the authority of the accepted perspective of the male has been challenged
  • what has been gained by this 
  • what has been lost
  • to what extent the recasting of authority has enriched your understanding of your own culture and the culture that created the original hero
  • what you have learned about where and on whom to confer authority.

Reflecting on authority

Using these points and the activities in the section to guide you, write: 

  • a reflection on where and when authority is justified and how to test your own authority in your ideas and in your compositions and responses to texts.
  • a reflection on one of the Duffy poems – what was diminished through the satire, what was enhanced?
  • one of your own imaginative compositions, bearing in mind how it was composed and where authority needs to be accorded elsewhere.

Last update: 23rd January 2019