Module A Advanced English: Breaking down the rubric

As year 12 students edge ever closer towards their trial exams, and eventually, their HSC exams, it seems fitting that we begin to break down the first aspect of your second paper, the Module A essay. As always, in order to succeed in any module in English advanced, you must possess a thorough understanding, appreciation and consequently, interpretation of the rubric. Let’s get started, shall we?


“In this module students explore the ways in which the comparative study of texts can reveal resonances and dissonances between and within texts”


First and foremost, it is pivotal that we understand what is meant by a comparative study of texts. We are no longer reading and understanding the literary value of one text but rather, this module challenges you as an english advanced student to extend your literary capacity through a comparative study, an in-depth analysis and appreciation of 2 texts simultaneously. Furthering this notion is NESA’s inclusion of “resonances and dissonances” whereby they establish that not only are you to read 2 texts in conjunction but that you also must identify, appreciate and critically analyse the similarities and differences between the 2 texts and how this complex relationship they share assists in conveying the author’s intended purpose. 


“Students consider the ways that a reimagining or reframing of an aspect of a text might mirror, align or collide with the details of another text”


Notice how NESA is telling you what to look for? These are the hints that allow you as a student sitting the hsc exam to prepare for the ever ambiguous HSC examinations that plague the year 12 cohort year by year. Here, NESA tells us that the texts they have allocated for this module have been reimagined or reframed by their respective author and how this deviation from the original can either be the same, similar or different than the original.


“In their textual studies, they also explore common or disparate issues, values, assumptions or perspectives and how these are depicted. By comparing two texts students understand how composers (authors, poets, playwrights, directors, designers and so on) are influenced by other texts, contexts and values, and how this shapes meaning.”


The words in bold are your best friends in this module, in tandem with the words “resonance” and “dissonance”. A majority of questions in both trial examinations and past HSC papers are based on these concepts and should inform a majority of your textual evidence selection throughout the module. These notions also help you to break down the texts in such a way that you can truly appreciate and understand the meaning embedded within your prescribed texts and how they assist the author in communicating their message to their audience or as the rubric says “how this shapes meaning”.


“Students identify, interpret, analyse and evaluate the textual features, conventions, contexts, values and purpose of two prescribed texts”


NESA is truly underappreciated. For those of you who judiciously examine these rubrics, you will notice how NESA literally outlines how to study your texts in order to best extract meaning and develop an appreciation for the beauty of these texts as they beautifully capture the authors meaning and fulfill their purpose. Not only must you identify relevant, sophisticated and profound textual features and conventions, you must also rely on the authors context, values, and purpose in order to understand such literary devices and thus achieve a greater, holistic understanding of the text. 


“As students engage with the texts they consider how their understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of both texts has been enhanced through the comparative study and how the personal, social, cultural and historical contextual knowledge that they bring to the texts influences their perspectives and shapes their own compositions.”


Believe it or not, NESA genuinely tries to guide you in such a way that you end up enjoying a text by understanding it holistically. Let’s be honest, when someone knows something really well, so well that you feel there’s nothing you don’t know about it, you can’t help but enjoy this sense of a genuine understanding that leads to a powerful connection with this concept or piece of knowledge. The same goes with literature. The more you know, the more you appreciate, the more you enjoy it. Additionally, nesa further highlights a path for your study during this module by bringing to your attention the importance of “personal, social, cultural, and historical contextual knowledge”. Most importantly, in your essays you must talk at some point about how this contextual knowledge has informed your own opinion (without using personal pronouns of course).

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