Katarina Nedeljakova: Argument Reflection

Until I started taking university level English classes, I never truly appreciated the art of annotating text and more broadly, note taking as a whole. As a child, I have always been told that books were to be read and not written in. However, as I started reading more texts, mostly those considered “difficult” (such as Shakespeare), it became increasingly harder to keep my thoughts in my head. Slowly, my thought process spilled from the comfort of my own brain to notebooks and finally the text itself. Looking back, it seems impossible that my essays on literature were of even a satisfactory quality without the intricate analyzing methods I use now.

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The approach which I take when reading/annotating literature usually begins with reading the text as a whole or quickly skimming the passage I am analyzing. At this time I make sure to scribble down anything that jumps out at me, then re-read the passage of interest again, slowly and deliberately. If I am preparing to write on a specific topic, I jot down the question or statement I am arguing somewhere on the page, so it is always in the back of my head when reading that passage. An example of my annotating skills was this past close reading of Henry V. I began by quickly reading the passage, paying more attention to the tone of the text than the words themselves. I drew sloppy lines across the page when I felt changes in mood. I made sure to reread the text frequently, when I had a couple minutes before classes or before bed and every time I did, something subtle jumped out at me. By this time, when I sat down to write the paper a few days later, I had a general idea of how I felt about this text and the points I wanted to analyze.

I reread the passage, this time slowly and deliberately. I usually analyze the text in the sections that I previously marked as having a shift in tone. At this point I pay special attention to the literary devices used, the rhythm of the text, and any references (cultural or other) that have been made. Now my annotating moves from the margins to the printing instead, and involves lots of circling and underlining as well as reading out loud. It is also of great help, mostly when analyzing plays, to listen to someone else reading the passage of interest out loud. This helps me catch any structural patterns I might have missed, and more often than not clarifies why a certain choice of words was used in the text. At this point, I also make sure to look any words I might not understand or any references that jumped out at me (this often leads to hours spent on Wikipedia reading up on history). I know I successfully annotated a text when I can easily write about it. If I sit down to write an essay and I have no clue what I am doing, I know I need to go back and analyze the text more. On the other hand, when I sit down and can easily write a decent paper, I know it is due to the meticulous process of reading, jotting down notes, and re-reading.

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By annotating the text, I feel like my writing has become a lot more concise and focused. I no longer feel the need to ramble on for pages. This is now done on my text and the paper is much neater and legible, with the book holding all the “behind the scenes” writing.

When it comes to taking notes on something that is not on paper, I usually have a much harder time. When viewing films, I try to watch the movie as a whole, once again making note of anything that jumps out at me, and then re-watching it. The second time around, I pause at certain scenes and replay clips that I find to be of interest. This is a rather time consuming process, and is usually more practical being done in one sitting. However, I have very little experience annotating film outside English 311 and have not yet mastered a system for doing this efficiently. As of now it consists of jumping back and forth trying to take note of anything I find particularly important, ranging anywhere from the visual choices the director makes to the way the script was written and acted out.

 

 

 

Katarina Nedeljakova: Film Review

Film Review: Nunn’s Twelfth Night

Nunn's Twelfth Night (1996)

Nunn’s Twelfth Night (1996)

Nunn’s Twelfth Night (1996) is a modern take on the classical Shakespearean comedy. Created during the so-called renaissance of commercialized Shakespeare film in the 1990’s, elements of this play reflect both its predecessor as well as a more modernized style. From a variety of dramatic shots to quickly changing musical scores, contrasting elements of film are used to deepen the sense of drama. Many parallels are also present in the play, carefully placed to emphasize the irony of the play.

What I found noteworthy in Act I was the background music in the opening scene. Once Viola awoke on the beach, a soft orchestra was played as she reminisced over her brother, who she believed had drowned. However as the guards galloped in, the whole mood of the scene changed; in a matter of seconds the audience got the feeling of great urgency simply by changing the score to a fast paced orchestra. This, paired with quick tracking shots of the survivors running through the forest, establishes the setting and the mood (while giving important background information not explicitly stated in the play) in one montage.

There is a powerful parallel also present when Viola first sees Olivia mourning. After questioning the Captain, it is revealed that Olivia’s brother has recently died, mirroring Viola’s situation. Conveyed by flashes between medium and long shots, we are given the impression that even though they have never met, Viola and Olivia are not that different. This scene serves as a precursor to the dramatic irony that Twelfth Night consists of, mostly later on when Olivia falls in love with Viola (disguised as Cesario).Violaolivia

As the film progresses, both contrasts and parallels seen between many of the remaining scenes. When the drunken party is playing music in the kitchen (at 45:00), the same song is played in the background of the scene when Viola and Duke Orsino play a game of cards. This time, the music is a connection between the two scenes instead of a tool used to create contrast as discussed previously. The main difference in the two scenes is the mood. In the scene with Duke Orsino and Viola the background is a reddish hue, giving the viewer gets a sense of warmth and intimacy.

This scene has warmer colors and a more intimate feel

This scene has warmer colors and a more intimate feel

This is intensifies the dramatic irony, as it is obvious to the audience that Viola is in love with Orsino. When the scenes change, it is a stark contrast. Drunk Fester is singing the same song that was playing in the previous scene, but paired with the setting a much colder atmosphere is given. The background has a blue tint and is set in a bare kitchen. However, the acting and close up shots of the listeners’ faces reveal that the Fester’s song also holds some meaning for them.

Festers' drunken singing

Festers’ drunken singing

 

While this overlap of Act II Scene III and the first half of Act II Scene IV was well done, I was surprised to see that the entirety of Act II Scene IV was not kept as one scene in the film. The second half of Act II Scene IV (as written in the original play) took place much later in the movie and was staged as an argument between Cesario and the Duke. Compared to the intimate moment they shared earlier in the cozy living quarters, this scene took place outdoors with the ocean crashing angrily in the background. This, along with the blue lighting and the rocky setting, gives viewers the impression that Viola is feeling negative emotions. She is distraught and unable to contain her love for the Duke any longer. From the directors and filmmakers perspective, it is understandable that the second half was pushed to later on in the movie, to preserve the slow pacing during the first half of Nunn’s Twelfth Night.

Act II Scene IV pt.2 is a stark contrast to pt.1

Act II Scene IV pt.2 is a stark contrast to pt.1

In my opinion, Nunn balanced the original play with the demand for commercial Shakespeare movies well. He managed to keep the light mood of comedy, while making use of the many elements of film. This included dramatic events that not only set the pace of the movie, but heightened a sense of dramatic irony for the viewer, which is what gave Twelfth Night its riveting feel.

Works Cited:

Shakespeare plays “Twelfth Night”: https://www.playshakespeare.com/twelfth-night/scenes/1054-act-ii-scene-3

Nunn’s Twelfth Night 1996: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelfth_Night_(1996_film)

Shakespeare and Film, A Norton Guide, Samuel Crowl