The Patchwork Text in teaching Greek Tragedy

Parker, Jan (2003). The Patchwork Text in teaching Greek Tragedy. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 40(2) pp. 180–193.



This chapter describes the challenges and rewards of using Patchwork Texts to teach Greek Tragedy to Cambridge University English final-year students. Experienced writers as these students are, patchworking nevertheless demands that they engage in a different way with both the texts they have been reading and with their processes of writing and reflection. As one major objective of this compulsory paper is that students re-assess their established modes of critical thinking, the use of the Patchwork Text format proved to be not only a valuable but a peculiarly appropriate approach. Patchworking was also appropriately challenging in demanding varying types of critical reading (analytic, contextual, responsive, reflective) to be harnessed to the multi-voiced and multi-genre Patchwork Text. The article itself uses close reading of the students' texts, analysis and reflection to discuss both the products and the process of Patchwork writing. The teaching intervention led to rethinking many cognate issues. Particularly interesting, and worthy of further research, were the implications for the synthesis of reflective and 'academic' writing. Students found such a synthesis difficult - perhaps because the nature of the engagements (with the text, self and peers on the one hand and with 'academic' discourse and scholarship on the other) is fundamentally different. The Patchwork Text, unlike essays and portfolios, demands this double engagement; which although difficult and problematic forms a paradigm for writing at the heart of Literary studies and, surely, any other discipline.

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