Don't know what to look for in a Discovery related text? Our guide will help you choose the right one.
Choosing related texts for your Area of Study can be one of the most daunting aspects of HSC English. When there are so many choices, it can be difficult to decide which ones are the right fit for your set text. Here are our top ten tips for selecting related texts to strengthen your Area of Study: Discovery essays.
When looking for related texts, remember that your Area of Study essays shouldn’t be about your prescribed text, but about discovery itself. Your related text needs to thematically overlap with your prescribed text so that your argument is concise and relevant. Your texts – both prescribed and related – are there to support your views on Discovery, so ask yourself: what kinds of Discovery exist in or through my prescribed text? Is this present in my related text? Your chosen text doesn’t need to address these themes in the exact same way; rather, the two texts should be in dialogue with each other, with each text enriching your analysis of Discovery.
Make sure your related texts use different text types to your set text. If your prescribed text is a novel, consider choosing poetry for your related text. If your prescribed text is a film, choose a short story. Using a variety of text types not only shows that you have read widely, but allows you to showcase your understanding of a variety of textual analysis techniques. Choosing texts of different types also helps demonstrate that you have the ability to compare, understand and analyse the inter-textual relationships that can exist across different text types. Plus, it keeps your essay interesting for your marker, which is always a plus!
When choosing your related text, get your head in the exam game. You will only have a small amount of time and space in your essay to expand upon your chosen text, so you need to pick wisely. Your text needs to have clear passages or examples, rich in techniques, which you can use as textual evidence in your essay. You may find a text which has good thematic overlap with your prescribed text, but it may not be very compatible in its form and style. Consider how you will actually construct your argument using the two texts, exploring where the texts align and where they divert from each other. Themes are important, but also consider the narrative, characters, settings, narrative voice, tone, images, and the overall message of the text.
Choosing texts which are considered ‘literature’ is helpful in a couple of ways. Literary texts are more likely to have a richness and sophistication in their writing style and themes. This will help you to write more interesting and sophisticated essays, as it will give you complex forms and features to analyse. Your marker is also more likely to know the text if it is written by a reputable author and accepted as part of the literary canon. This will make it easier for them to understand the relevance of your textual analysis, and for you to get your point across, without having to spend too much time outlining plot points or drawing narrative links.
Do not pick any text that appears elsewhere in the BOSTES English Syllabus. This includes English Extension 1 and English Standard. There are thousands of texts out there which are well-known, literary, and rich in meaning. Do a little research, ask your teachers and parents, and don’t rely on other parts of the syllabus to make the choice for you.
Broadly speaking, to be termed a ‘Classic’, a text must have been composed during the 19th or 20th Century, up until around the 1920s. Classic texts may be harder to read, but they offer diversity in perspective, context and narrative voice, and have stood the test of time in terms of textual integrity. Your related text does not, however, need to be a dog-eared, dust-covered tome that you found on your parent’s bookshelf! ‘Modern Classics’ begin from around the 1920s and extend up until the 1980s. These classics may deal with more topical themes, and showcase the very diverse range of literary styles present in the 20th Century. Both Classics and Modern Classics offer a wealth of meaning, and are often highly critically analysed.
Sure, you love to read Twilight , but is it HSC material? Furious 7 was cool, but is it a sophisticated text? Be careful of any texts which are very popular or aimed at teenagers or children. These texts are designed to have mass appeal, and may lack the level of textual complexity required from a related text. Try to get out of your comfort zone a little – consider trying a new genre, a new author or a new textual form. Your chosen text needs to be sophisticated and offer complex ideas about discovery. But also keep in mind…
If you’re not a big reader, don’t choose Ulysses as your related text. Be realistic about what you can manage, and then push those boundaries just a little. To write a Band 6 AOS essay you will need to challenge yourself, but if you are unrealistic when picking your related text you will only write an essay which smacks of confusion, and probably, a half-read related text. Short stories, critically acclaimed films, well-written essays (such as those that appear in The New Yorker) or poetry are all great options if you feel reading a novel isn’t a realistic option.
Read (or watch) your text before you pick it! This sounds obvious, but often students will choose a text without having finished it. When reading, remember to read actively – that means taking notice of the text’s construction, its forms and features, its themes and key concepts.
Do not wait for your first discovery assessment to think about a related text. Think ahead and start reading/watching/researching before you come to study discovery in class. This will allow you to have a collection of texts you could potentially use, and will make the process of choosing a text less rushed and less stressful. You never know what kind of question you will get in the HSC exam, and you therefore want to have more than one related text up your sleeve. Having a central related text is important, but make sure you also have a back-up text you can use, in case the question requires it. Starting early will give you time to read more widely and, if you read actively and keep notes, will help you be as prepared as possible by the time you sit your exam!