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In an essay of no more than 2000 words, discuss whether the individual is embedded in or alienated from her/his environment with reference to ‘Pushcart Man’ and TWO other New York texts (poems and/or prose extracts).

TMA 05

Remember to put a word count at the bottom of your assignment and to follow academic conventions as set out in Section 4.5 ‘Presentation and academic conventions’in this Assessment Guide.

In an essay of no more than 2000 words, discuss whether the individual is embedded in or alienated from her/his environment with reference to ‘Pushcart Man’ and TWO other New York texts (poems and/or prose extracts).

You can write on any of the New York texts that appear in the Reading Supplement that accompanies Books 2 and 3, or that appear in full and were discussed in Chapter 3 of The Twentieth Century.

Guidance notes

This assignment asks you to think comparatively about the texts you have read. It differs from TMAs 01–04 in that it offers you the opportunity to select two texts (poems or prose extracts) to compare with ‘Pushcart Man’ that you think will provide you with the most effective answer to the question, this time using 2000 words.

You could start by making a list of poems/prose extracts that you have studied that represent the ideas of alienation or being embedded in the environment. Where have you found these issues treated in your reading? Are they always clearly opposed as categories?

Capture your initial responses to this question before you test out whether those texts you first identify are in fact the most productive, or whether you need to extend your search. The question asks you to select two additional texts to ‘Pushcart Man’ and so it’s sensible to make choices based in part on variety. Remember that genre is part of that variety. Perhaps prose and poetic texts will offer different ways of approaching the question, and comparing and contrasting these themes. Don’t forget that technique plays a part here too. How do your writers present ideas about the environment, and whether individuals within it seem to be ‘embedded’ in it, or alienated from it? How do imagery, point of view, or dialogue, for example, add to the picture? Which are the most effective treatments, and why? These are some of the questions that will help you to frame your response.

Don’t forget to use brief quotations to illustrate your points.

In preparation, you should read the relevant chapters in your module book, The Twentieth Century, and be thoroughly familiar with your chosen texts. If you remain unsure of key terms and techniques associated with prose and poetry, then revisit the appropriate online skills tutorial before you start to write. The film ‘Harlem voices’ may also be of help in approaching this TMA.


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