20th Century Summative Blog

Do the interests, concerns and experiences of writers in the 20th century assist the 21st-century human beings in their understanding of the purpose of existence?

It can be fairly easy for one to agree or disagree with writers in general. Each person is unique and that exclusive beings thoughts and feelings are different to the next. One idea topic that always ends up being A-line is the question of one’s existence. The way individuals perceive this motion can be expressed through physical, mental or emotional circumstances. However, there is something incredibly special about 20th Century writers and their pieces that grasp a 21st Century human beings attention and educates them about the purpose of existence.

The purpose of existence is questioned in Wilfred Owen’s poem “Anthem for Doomed Youth”. The focus in this poem is the aftermath of letting the ‘Youth’ participate in war when they are destined for fatality. Owen points out the dehumanisation of soldiers as they are treated as cattle, valid objects of dying. Owen pinpoints the exact moment the “rifle’ rapid rattle” forcing the readers to feel the depth of emotional pain which is the deafening sound of death. Readers can comprehend a story such as this one as it shows a genuine side of war that wasn’t authorised to be publicised back then and the increased worth human beings received now compared to older times.

Visual texts are one form of work, which appeals to the 21st-century human being. The “Three Bathers” painted by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner envision the scarce times in the 20th Century, which also was war. For some reason, I had a unique interpretation. I knew the back-story but something about the three, afraid, naked women spoke to me. The woman who is in the back is larger and seems more scared than the rest compared to the woman at the front. The weight scale difference I believe is due to the strong and the weak. Women today can relate to this same concept because this idea has grown into the 21st Century.

A writer who I believe has turned the English language on its head is George Orwell. His essay “Politics in the English Language” corrects in his opinion, what is being shown as the wrong way literature is being produced. It provokes writers of the present and past day and is still a timely piece for students of language. The “staleness of imagery” and “lack of precision” is his main advice that he brings to this essay. He deems that writers should be unique and not a carbon copy of what has been done before. Which is something 21st-century writers should take into consideration?

My favourite piece to read, listen to and connect with was Marlene Nourbese Philip poetic spin in “Discourse on the Logic of Language”. Her unique spin on language, adding 5 different typographic styles engages the audience in such ways of tone, structure and design when the words and horizontal, vertical and even in tiny paragraphs. Philip’s is determined to portray that language has become a “foreign anguish”. Many tongues speak many languages but English is her own foreign anguish. For many 21st writers, a difficulty may be language, race or nation that they are trying to connect with.

All in All, 20th Century writers have an immense impact on beings in the 21st Century through their own ideas. With just a few of the writers I became interested in such as Wilfred Owen, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, George Orwell and Marlene Nourbese Philip all envisage that the experiences in the 20th Century can be understood by 21st Century human beings.

“Anthem for Doomed Youth” https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/47393

“Three Bathers” http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/158.1984/

“Politics in the English Language” The Norton Anthology of English Literature: 20th Century (Beginning on Page 2610)

“Discourse on the Logic of Language” Youtube Video. Start: 1:08 https://youtu.be/424yF9eqBsE



#9 Nation, Race, and Language?

What comes to mind when I think of the three words Nation, Race, and Language? The first thing that comes to my mind is that I believe these three words are extremely overlooked in today’s day and age.

Why is this? Well, I’ve come to my own personal conclusion that many people don’t understand the severity of being forced away from one’s nation, race and or language.

What do I mean by this? Well, the world as we recognise it is big on trends. Anyone can agree to disagree with this but by trends, I’m referring to conformity. English is the third most highly spoken language in the world and as of 2014 over 300,000,000 people approx. participate in speaking English. (“Most Popular Languages In The World By Number Of Speakers” 2016)

Last week two poets stood out to me. They both in their own unique ways embraced their Nation, Race and language by not conforming to English linguistics but more so mocking what it has done and continue to do in the world.

Grace Nichols was born and raised in British Guiana. Two of her works that caught my attention was a four-lined poem titled “Epilogue” and a quite revealing piece titled “Wherever I hang”. Epilogue memorialises Africans and their people’s language at the time of slavery, which relocated them to the West Indies.“Wherever I hang” uses all the dialect forms from her language as she gently criticises the place where she was born, “I leave me people”. (Ramazani and Stallworthy 2012)

“Wherever I hang” uses all the dialect forms from her language as she gently criticises the place where she was born, “I leave me people, me land, me home for reasons, I not too sure”. She purposely shows an interpersonal view with the way she talks creating a sense of understanding from what has happened. However, simultaneously recognising the discomfort that many have had to go through. Her acceptance into conformity has gone as far to say “Wherever I hang my knickers, that’s my home”.

On the other end of the Spectrum, Marlene Nourbese Philip was born on the Island of Tobago. She was a highly educated woman and a writer of novels, essays and plays. Her literary artwork “Discourse on the Logic of Language” refreshes one’s pre-determined opinion on the language being a foreign anguish. The way Philip’s brings this statement through is by using 5 different typographic styles; such as her own voice, one spoken through mothers, a scientific view, an authoritative view through edicts and a questionnaire.

To view any of the texts mentioned above, please feel free to check out their links!

“Epilogue”: http://second-inversion.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/epilogue-by-grace-nichols-19831984.html

“Wherever I hang”: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00wzy9y

“Discourse on the Logic of Language” Youtube Video. Start: 1:08

Ramazani, Jahan and Jon Stallworthy. 2012. Volume F: The Twentieth Century And After. New York: Norton.

“Most Popular Languages In The World By Number Of Speakers”. 2016. Infoplease.Com. http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0775272.html.

# Peer Review 8

Dear Ronny,

Your entire set out of the website is really refreshing. The thing I like the most is you have a gap/divide between your weekly writings and your referencing and any images you add.
The blog you’ve presented is simple and concise and I indeed agree with some of the points you’ve addressed. The notion you put forward to Virginia Woolf about writing being the type that is “unconstrained by conventions of the past” truly encompasses the what she writes. The comparison between unique and “abstract manner” pieces to artwork really stuck with me because I also do consider all types of writing to be a form of artwork.
Your blog identifies the purpose of non-conventional writing. Keep up the good work 🙂



#8 A letter to George Orwell

Dear Mr George Orwell,

This year is my first year of University and within my course this semester I am studying Twentieth Century Literature. In this unit, it is expected that there is a lot of different texts and writings that have to be analysed and interpreted. An area that I’ve never seemed to do well is linking. By that, I mean connecting the focal point throughout my own interpretations. I frequently choose the wrong words to communicate the focal connection and it often turns into a repetition of what I’ve already said.

Your piece; Politics and the English Language, spoke to me in more ways than one. This particular essay provokes the writers of the past and present day and has made me look over the work I have previously submitted at my time in University. Although you wrote this essay in the 40’s it still is a very timely piece for students of language like myself. Something that stands out to me is that you point out that you believe the English language has become “ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts”. Honestly, I didn’t really see it in that way prior to this statement. You offer practical advice to both famous and infamous writing, which is something; I believe no other writer could have interpreted better.

Identifying that most writers have constructed pieces that show the “staleness of imagery” through worn out comparisons and the inability to create fresh new ways of seeing things. As well as through one’s “lack of precision”. Recognising the meaning and having the incapability to express it or writing something that means something completely different.

For me personally, I believe I could be compared to a lack of precision. When writing my deep thought constantly gets side tracked. The result of this is that if a unique and thought-provoking idea appear in my mind it is extremely often that I end up portraying something different and not connecting it to the focus. Looking back on my writing, a key quote popped into my mind “Underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes”. I was just as shocked to realise that maybe the reason my head floats into different places is because my “half-conscious” mind is taking me to another idea that I couldn’t even comprehend before.

Thank you for letting me read a piece that has made me appreciate the depth of language and how it should be treated.

With most admiration,




The Norton Anthology of English Literature: 20th Century (Beginning on Page 2610)

# Peer Review 7

Dear Serena,
I really appreciate someone who can take the time and effort out to detail and pull apart a thought-provoking essay such as this one. The way in which approached the letter through your structure and your clear and concise diction provided me with a sense of realisation why George Orwell stated the English language to be “ugly”. I also really enjoyed the connection you made to an excerpt from George Bush’s “War on Terror”. It depicted that good writing can be used with words used in “everyday life”.
Overall you’ve done a brilliant job but maybe a photograph might have given us readers a visual opening to the letter you have written for your blog.

– Annaliese.



#7 Virginia Woolf Inspired

This week, Virginia Woolf inspired me through her experimental take on modernist literature. She argued the being insides consciousness as she personifies it to take up the definition of a person. So I’ve decided to write my own poem, a sum up of the way I understand the conscious being inside.



Layers upon layers cover us all,

with skin that is faded, bright or dull.

Constantly overlooked these depictions stay,

but the life within limits one’s way.


There is a truth beneath all surfaces;

Neither introvert nor extrovert.

The beauty inside shines,

as insecurities emerge.


We were always taught as kids,

to live with confidence, not cockiness.

But even the greatest inner voices,

are fearful of that they have no other choice.

# Peer Review 6

Hi Emily,
I love how simple and clear your blog this week is and simultaneously is summary and honesty is brilliant.
Your relation to the reader, the story and the author all connect really well. I also appreciate anyone who has the IT skills and knowledge to provide an addition video, it was awesome!
One thing you maybe could have added was an elaboration on how reading this text affected you.
Overall, you’ve done a great job, I’ll be looking out for your blogs more often! 🙂



#6 Professor Barry Spur on T.S Elliot

During the week a guest speaker enlightened me, by the name of Professor Barry Spur. He has recently retired from his Chair of Poetry and Poetics at Sydney University and during his visit he gladly clarified and related written and visual texts to the mode known as Modernism. Throughout his lecture, he illuminated the context of literature and identified how Modernism became what it was through T.S Elliot’s work.

In Professor Spur’s own words he correlates Modernism to a reaction to the dominant mode. He expressed it to be a time where there was a massive rejection of the 19th Century as well as a rejection to Romanticism. His thorough connection was based mainly on the life and works of T.S Elliot. Part of Elliot’s great achievement was that he was known to be a ‘prophet’. In saying that he professed the theory of impersonality. This can be seen in a collection of his poems “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”. Through just the title Elliot has made it sound like it could be a title of a scientific paper but contrasting through yearning of love within a dramatic monologue. Elliot uses this particular work as an example to the definition of Modernism and un-romanticised writings.

In past years T.S Elliot’s works have been a large blur in my literary understanding but through Professor Barry Spur’s insight into the passion that consumes each of his poems. When later reflecting on the entire experience as a whole I learnt the endearing approach Elliot takes on his writing without the inclusion romantic edge. The lecture opened my eyes to what it really felt like to be a part of a time that had so much rejection. T.S Elliot, you really are one of a kind.


Professor Barry Spur ( Left) www.abc.net.au

T. S Elliot ( Right) fineartamerica.com