HSC English Advanced Module A: Comparative Study of Text and Context

Posted on September 6, 2017 by Matrix Education

The study of HSC English Advanced Module A: Comparative Study of Text and Context requires students to compare and contrast two prescribed texts in order to gain a greater insight into both of them and their key ideas. Students study one pair of texts from one of the following electives that is chosen by their school teachers. Students are often unsure of what they should focus on in this module. In this post we will explain what HSC English Advanced Module A: Comparative Study of Text and Context is asking of you.

Module A: Comparative Study of Text and Context

Module A is primarily concerned with the CONTEXT of, and IDEAS explored in, a text. Analysing a text with regard to its context not only allows us to put it in perspective, but also to grasp elements that may not have been intended by the author. Module A centres on the extent to which a pair of texts that deal with similar subject matter can differ as a result of the distinctive socio-political environments in which they are composed.

In addition, HSC English Advanced Module A: Comparative Study of Text and Context requires students to contrast a pair of texts. The comparative study is asking you to consider what has changed between the periods of the texts’ composition. You must ask yourself the following questions:

  • What was happening when these texts were composed?
  • How have these events influenced the composer’s representations of ideas?
  • How have these events influenced the composer’s choice of form?
  • What has changed between the composition of these two texts?
  • What does a comparative study of these texts reveal about these changes in context and perspective?

Let’s have a look at the HSC English Advanced Module A: Comparative Study of Text and Context Outline to understand this in more detail:

This module requires students to compare texts in order to explore them in relation to their contexts. It develops students’ understanding of the effects of context and questions of value.
Each elective in this module requires the study of groups of texts which are to be selected from a prescribed text list. These texts may be in different forms or media.
Students examine ways in which social, cultural and historical context influences aspects of texts, or the ways in which changes in context lead to changed values being reflected in texts. This includes study and use of the language of texts, consideration of purposes and audiences, and analysis of the content, values and attitudes conveyed through a range of readings.
Students develop a range of imaginative, interpretive and analytical compositions that relate to the comparative study of texts and context. These compositions may be realised in a variety of forms and media.
Source: BOSTES 2014 English Stage 6: Area of Study Electives and Texts, Higher School Certificate 2015-20 (Extract)

What does BOSTES really mean when they say that you need to compare texts in “relation to their contexts”?

CONTEXT:

We can define context as the following:

  • Context is the influences that are happening in the world when the composer is creating the text.
  • Context is the ideas and circumstances that shaped the world when the text was composed.
  • Context is the circumstances that determine the composition of the text.

Context is essentially the character of the world, the culture, and the events, at the time the text was composed. BOSTES is asking you to use context as a tool for your analysis of your set texts.

Values:

When BOSTES talks about values and the connection to context, they are trying to draw your attention to social values. Social values are the values that structure society and the way we expect to engage with other people.

Module A is split into two electives. Let’s see what they are.

Elective 1: Intertextual Connections

In this elective, students compare texts in order to develop their understanding of the effects of context, purpose and audience on the shaping of meaning.
Through exploring the intertextual connections between a pair of texts, students examine the ways in which different social, cultural and historical contexts can influence the composer’s choice of language forms and features and the ideas, values and attitudes conveyed in each text.
In their responding and composing, students consider how the implicit and explicit relationship between the texts can deepen our understanding of the values, significance and context of each.
Source: BOSTES 2014 English Stage 6: Area of Study Electives and Texts, Higher School Certificate 2015-20 (Extract)

Students study how a modern text reveals fresh insights into their earlier counterpart thereby illuminating particular issues explored in the former text as well as those surrounding the construction and interpretation of the text.

The texts set for study in this elective are:

  • Shakespeare, William, King Richard III and Pacino, Al, Looking for Richard
  • Woolf, Virginia, Mrs Dalloway and Daldry, Stephen, The Hours
  • Austen, Jane, Pride and Prejudice and Weldon, Fay, Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen
  • The poetry of Alfred Lord Tennyson and Anderson, Jessica, Tirra Lirra by the River
  • The poetry of John Donne and Edson, Margaret W;t

Elective 2: Intertextual Perspectives

In this elective, students compare the content and perspectives in a pair of texts in order to develop their understanding of the effects of context, purpose and audience on the shaping of meaning. Through exploring and comparing perspectives offered by a pair of texts, students examine the ways in which particular social, cultural and historical contexts can influence the composer’s choice of language forms and features and the ideas, values and attitudes conveyed in each text. In their responding and composing, students consider how the treatment of similar content in a pair of texts can heighten our understanding of the values, significance and context of each.
Source: BOSTES 2014 English Stage 6: Area of Study Electives and Texts, Higher School Certificate 2015-20 (Extract)

Students compare the universal themes explored in two texts, how specific contexts influence their portrayal as well as how these values may have changed through time.

Rather than comparing a text against its adaptation (as in the Intertextual Connections elective), we explore two texts that share similar content and themes and compare their different perspectives on those shared themes. These perspectives could reflect the dominant perspectives at the time or they could be challenging, subverting, or contradicting them.

Another focal part of this Module is that the comparative study is meant to lead students to a deeper understanding of the values, significance and context of each text. Especially when you come to writing the conclusions of your essays, you must make an argument for how the comparative study has ‘deepened’ your understanding of each text, their context, or the values and issues in each.

The texts set for study in this elective are:

  • Shakespeare, William, Julius Caesar and Machiavelli, Niccolò, The Prince (translated by Tim Parks)
  • Fitzgerald, F Scott, The Great Gatsby and the poetry of Elizabeth Barret Browning
  • Joyce, James, Dubliners and the poetry of Seamus Heaney
  • Orwell, George, Nineteen Eighty-Four and Lang, Fritz, Metropolis

 

Now that you understand what HSC English Advanced Module A: Comparative Study of Text and Context and its electives ask of you, you need to start reading and analysing your text according to the module. If you need more help, check out the links to other Module A blog posts below.

You may be interested in our other HSC articles

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