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\ROMANTICISM: SETTING AS A CHARACTER

COURSE:
English Extension 1

CLASS:
Extension 1

AIM
To explore creative writing strategies for the Romanticism elective.

TOPIC/CONCEPT:
Creative Writing Romanticism

DURATION:
50 mins

RESOURCES
Provocation: Mon Oncle Clip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LE9t98Gox60
Stimulus: Invocations #1 by Tracey Moffatt (see attached)

SYLLABUS OUTCOMES
1.1 Students learn to distinguish and evaluate values expressed through texts by identifying aspects of texts that reflect and shape values
3.4 Students will learn to compose extended texts by using stylistic devices appropriate to purpose, audience and context
INTRODUCTION
1.
2.

Provocation: Can setting be a character in a story? Play the Mon Oncle clip. Ask students: if the setting of the kitchen was a person, what word
would you use to describe its personality? (e.g. obnoxious, enigmatic, sly, etc)
Briefly discuss with students how the setting links to transformative ideas of the Romantic movement (e.g. the modern urban environment being
depicted as unpleasant and inhospitable)

10 mins

MAIN SECTION
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.

Show students the artwork Invocations 1.


Give students thirty seconds to write down what they see in the image as a list of nouns. Instruct students to keep their pen constantly on the page
for the full thirty seconds by writing the same word repeatedly until they think of another word.
Give students one minute to write down as many adjectives as they can to describe the image. Again, students are to keep their pen constantly on
the page.
Ask students to swap lists with the person next to them and answer the following question: How does the list of words in front of you reflect the
transformative ideas of Romanticism?
Using their list of words for inspiration, have students write the opening of a short story which introduces the forest as a main character. Have
students consider the interaction between the little girl and the forest in their writing and how their short story might reflect values of Romanticism
(e.g. communion with nature, awe of nature, the sublime, etc). Also link to pathetic fallacy. Pathetic fallacy is a literary device wherein the author
attributes human emotions and traits to nature or inanimate objects.

35 mins

CONCLUSION
8.

For homework, have students find an image of a landscape that they could use as a character in a piece of creative writing for the Romanticism
elective. Along with their image, students are to write a short justification (3-5 lines) about why they chose the image and how it reflects the
transformative ideas of Romanticism.

EVALUATION

5 mins

Invocations #1 (2000) by Tracey Moffatt. Silkscreen photograph.

LESSON RATIONALE

The English Extension 1 course requires students to compose extended texts that engage with the ideas of their elective. This lesson challenges students who are studying
the Romanticism elective to think differently about two fundamental elements of creative writing: setting and character. The defining feature of the late eighteenth century and
early-nineteenth century movement is how individuals found meaning through being hyper-present in physical, social and interior worlds. As the rubric for the elective states,
The Romantic period was a time of unprecedented change when ideas about the power of the imagination, the individuals pursuit of meaning and truth through spontaneous
thought, feeling, and action, and the continuity of the human and natural worlds took hold and flourished (NSW BOSTES, 2015). This lesson gives students the opportunity to
explore interactions between humans and the world. Just as William Wordsworth brought the natural landscape to life through personification and imagery in his poem I
wondered lonely as a cloud, students are challenged through these stimulus texts to bring settings in their creative pieces to life by experimenting how setting can be treated
as a character which influences those who interact with it. Importantly, this lesson shows students how these transformative ideas of the Romantic movement can be found in
texts drawn from outside of the Romantic period. By incorporating visual mediums such as film and artwork, students are engaging with different modes (viewing and writing)
and are also exploring how to use and manipulate different text types (Outcome 3.3). This lesson is built around the imaginative recreation creative writing strategy. By taking
the artwork, interpreting it and presenting it through the lens of romanticism, students are adopting a creative role in relation to the work of fiction and imaginatively
transforming the way the text is experienced (Adams, 2009, p. 53). The artwork itself is a provocative stimulus that draws on elements of fantasy, encouraging students to
consider the power of imagination and ways of thinking about the human mind and human experience (NSW BOSTES, 2015). While this lesson is tailored specifically to the
Romanticism elective, it can be used effectively with the other electives. For example, students might use the video stimulus in the Comedy elective to consider how comedy
arises from the interaction between an individual and their setting. This lesson challenges students to experiment with familiar elements of creative writing, guiding them
through the process of refining the clarity of their own compositions to meet the demands of increasing complexity of thought and expression (Outcome 3.2).

References
Adams, P. (2009). Imaginative re-creation of literature. In S. Gannon, M. Howie & W. Sawyer (Eds.), Charged with Meaning: Reviewing English, Third Edition (pp. 53-67).
Sydney: Phoenix Education.
NSW Board of Studies Teaching and Educational Standards. (2009). English Stage 6 Syllabus. Sydney: NSW Board of Studies.
NSW Board of Studies Teaching and Educational Standards. (2015). HSC English Prescriptions 2015-20. Sydney: NSW Board of Studies.

SAMPLE RESPONSE

In the deep of the night, the forest creaked and groaned with the murmurings and mutterings of the towering oaks. They swung their knotted branches around like a wild man
flails his arms, throwing them over their eyes and exchanging looks of horror as the girl maundered past. Though she was as light and delicate as a fay creature, the ground
beneath her snapped brusquely in protest. Leaves crunched and twigs splintered the untouched, sacred earth felt violated by these feet of flesh. In the chill of the night, the
trees huddled closer together, quiet but also unnerved by what secrets would become known tonight, ancient wisdom that had long lain untouched and forgotten in the dense
undergrowth of the forest.