Quick E-Guide to Academic Writing

Academic writing is organised into paragraphs which are used to build your argument. To find out how this works hover over the text below or use the key.

Example from a student essay

Irony can be used as a device to allow the artist to distance himself and his work from the subject material. This use of irony allows the artist to comment upon the work in an objective but still knowing way. The philosopher, William Brown (2000:47) suggests that even greater distancing from the subject matter is achieved by some artists who make an ironic work which references a work which in turn references another.  This use of irony as a distancing tool could be seen as an ideal form of self-defence that allows the artist to protect himself from hostile comments or criticism. Yet, it could also be argued that those artists who use irony as a way of protecting themselves are also creating an institutional insider joke.
Example Graphic Fig.7. Godzilla Girls (2011) Marceloos.
Insider jokes set up an elite group of those who are 'in the know' excluding all who are not party to the insider knowledge. This is perhaps the case in Marceloos (see Fig.7) where the Godzilla Girls make reference to the use of a urinal, the subject of Marcel Duchamp's Fountain (1917) and also the title of his later work Étant Donné (1946-1966) which translates as 'it is given'. Marceloos could be seen as a critique of Duchamp's contribution to conceptual art by asking the question 'Is this what you have given us?' John Smith, philosopher, feels that the use of the insider joke in this way allows the artist to:
isolate himself in a place of safety within his own world, constructed by developing a unique mythology or manifesto of belief that may not be explicit and is therefore exclusive (Smith,1998:723).
Here the artists distance themselves from the general public by the use of French and an assumed familiarity with the work of Duchamp creating an exclusive circle who are able to appreciate this 'unique mythology'. However, this could also be interpreted as an instance where the artist is trying to dupe or separate himself from the viewer and perhaps take up a somewhat superior stance. As Susan Peters points out, this elite grouping might itself be in a 'constant state of flux' (Peters, 2004:76) and this could also serve to perpetuate the sense of exclusion in the viewer, since the membership of the group is constantly shifting. Marceloos's ironic comment on Duchamp creates a knowing insider joke but such exclusionism might engender criticism and thus, ironically, this use of irony as a method of distancing the artist in order to protect himself from criticism, becomes self-defeating.