2.10 Text, context and perspective - Std, ES and EAL/D
When we read texts we are essentially reading, listening to or viewing some aspect of the world that someone else wants to present. Often composers want to bring a change to the world by having others engage with their perspectives.
Changing texts by changing perspective
Open the ROAD TRAFFIC CRASHES IN NEW SOUTH WALES : Statistical Statement for the year ended 31 December 2013, scroll down to page 7, and read the executive summary, Main Points for 2013.
Consider these questions based on this page of the report and jot down some answers:
- Who is the audience? Who is addressing the audience?
- What is the page about?
- What is the reason for this page in the report?
- Who else (in other areas of society) might be contributing to discussions about the subject matter in the report? Consider voices on talk-back radio, social media and in personal accounts.
Humanising the impersonal
The language of the report projects a world composed of facts rather than behaviours and actions. The people represented in the texts are characterised passively rather than as active agents.
- What happens when you change the report by rewriting statements? Rewrite a statement from the report so that:
- the people in the report are portrayed as active agents
- the people in the report are affected by the information in the report or affect others
- the depersonalised statistics are personalised
- it is communicated as a spoken text.
- Share your responses with another student and explore:
- how your interventions have altered the perspectives in the original statements
- what you have learned about the statements in the original report.
To what extent do you think driving is an individual experience?
Consider this statement: More than anything else, driving is an individual experience.
- What is your opinion of this statement?
- Working individually, jot down some responses to it.
- Working with a partner, compare your responses and identify points of similarity and difference.
- Reflect on your initial thoughts and refine your opinion. Rewrite your answer offering some justifications for how and why your opinion has been refined. Share these observations with the class.
- Make note of what are the implications of your opinion for others?
Our world is saturated in texts. When we encounter new texts we form perspectives based on our previous experience of other texts. The Centre for Road Safety advertising campaigns operate in a society that has texts with competing, at times contradictory, intentions and perspectives.
Take for example the general tenor of car advertising. Car advertisers, like all advertisers, are very interested in consumers’ needs and desires. They operate on the principle that needs are finite, desires are infinite.
Once needs are satisfied, desires become extremely compelling and consumers can become obsessed with what they don’t have but do want, or… what advertising tells us they should want [Arthur Asa Berger Ads, Fads and Consumer Culture, Investigating the lack of social context in car television advertising, Sarah Redshaw, 2012]. Specific views of the world or perspectives represented, either explicitly or implicitly, in texts are laden with values and beliefs which shape how responders (consumers) interact with these values and beliefs.
Imaginative and persuasive texts can create representations that may seem realistic but are in fact a distortion. Take, for example, some car advertisements which a driver is alone in the car and does not interact with other people or society as a whole.
Based on your knowledge of car advertisements targeted at young drivers, consider whether the depictions in the table on Page 1 of student worksheet 2.10.1 Text as context (Std, ES and EAL/D) are typical of these advertisements. Conduct a survey of car advertisements targeted at young drivers and record you answers in this table.
- To what extent are these representations typical of the driving done by the majority of drivers?
- What values about driving are implied by these advertisements? Write two to three statements of your own that generalise the beliefs and values about the driving experience represented in each advertisement. Elaborate on these statements by commenting on their perspective on the world.
- In about 50 words, synthesise these ideas to make a statement about the context created by vehicle advertisements that need to be addressed by texts produced for a driving safety campaign.
Working with a partner, find other related texts that represent alternative perspectives on the relationship between the individual and the car. Starting points for research could include:
- National Museum Australia
- National Gallery of Victoria
- motoring associations
Draw an infographic that explores the variety of relationships that individuals may form with cars. Include in your infographic:
- Information and ideas from
- the advertisements
- Centre for Road Safety campaigns and
- your research texts
- Statements (either verbal or visual) that demonstrate the values that are implied through the relationships that individuals form.
Write a brief explanation of how your text, the infographic, offers a new context for new drivers and their expectations for experiences behind the wheel.
Bringing a new perspective to texts
Faction is a hybrid textual form that happens when a factual text is combined with a fictional text. The Centre for Road Safety advertisements are examples of faction because they are underpinned by research and statistics. This research data is recontextualised for particular audience demographics.
In this activity you are going to work in pairs and create faction. You can do this by combining aspects of Road Traffic Crashes in NSW 2013 report, a factual text, and an advertisement, a fictional text. As you do this, you need to
- consider the perspective you wish to convey in the new text and how that perspective draws on the context for the new text
- decide on whether you want the meanings within the texts to
- complement and expand on one another
- collide with another
- offer an entirely alternative meaning.
Begin by reviewing the report details and the advertisements you have previewed. From these, make a list of texts that you might like to combine and their points of similarity or difference. Record your ideas in the Text combinations table on Page 2 of student worksheet 2.10.1 Text as context (Std, ES and EAL/D).
- Using the information in the table, work with your partner to brainstorm as many ideas as possible for why and how you might combine the chosen texts. [Pope, Rob. Textual Intervention: Critical and Creative Strategies for Literary Studies. London: Routledge, 1995. Print p. 544]
You could experiment by:
- combining texts at critical points such as turning points
- juxtaposing particular elements of each text
- recasting the advertisement as a factual text in the style of the report
- creating a collage or montage of texts, photographs and moving images
- creating a performance for two or three voices – who would you script? Who would you introduce? What gender? Will you use one text as a base text?
- rewriting some of the evidence in the report by giving agency to the marginalised.
- Draft your ideas, then determine and document what exactly you are trying to achieve in this combination. Which text are you interrogating and why? You may find it helpful to clarify your ideas in a table such as the one below.
Selections to combine
- Re-draft your new text to make sure that each language decision is focused on what you are aiming to achieve.
- Keep comments on the reasons for combinations and alterations by:
- including the ideas and experiments you may have rejected
- explaining the language choices you have taken to address a particular context, and
- explaining how the texts are:
- Contradicting or
- Reinforcing one another.
- Present your faction to the class with an accompanying exploration about how the perspectives in the texts have been altered for a particular context.
Last update: 24th January 2019