hsc english texts and human experiences related text

Now that you’ve started the Texts and Human Experiences Common Module, you may have heard your teacher mention “related texts” once or twice.

But what exactly is a related text and how do you possibly find one?

As the name implies, a related text is a text related both to the Common Module and to your prescribed text.

Previously, students have been assessed on related texts in both in-school assessment tasks and in the final HSC examination.

2019 HSC students and beyond will only be assessed on their related texts through in-school assessment tasks.

This means you will not need to write about your related text in the final HSC exam. Win!

So the pressure is off then, right?

Not quite. Your in-school assessments make up your school assessment mark which in turn makes up quite a hefty amount of your final HSC mark.

50% of your mark, in fact.

So it’s important to put effort into finding and analysing your related text, and we’re going to help you do just that!

What can I study as a related text?

The related texts you study will most likely align in some way with your prescribed text.

Seeing as all the prescribed texts are so vastly different, rather than having one generic list of texts, we have recommended five different related texts PER prescribed text.

Each related text takes a different form and each one relates in one way or another to your prescribed text.

Note: NONE of the related texts on this list will take the same form as their corresponding prescribed text.

So for example, if you’re studying Billy Elliot you will not see any films listed as recommended related texts.

Why?

Teachers strongly discourage related texts taking the same form as the prescribed as it limits the amount of depth you can get into with your technical analysis.

Let’s get to it!

Here are our top 5 related texts for the top 5 prescribed texts for this module:

‘The Surfer’ by Judith Wright (The Boy Behind the Curtain)

Judith Wright’s ‘The Surfer’ is a great poem, which tackles the simultaneous love and fear of the ocean in a memorable way.

It’s also quite short, meaning that while there’s definitely enough to write about on it, it’s not too much of a challenge to get through. The reason I’ve paired it with The Boy Behind the Curtain is for its similarity to a number of the prescribed essays: it is about a passion for nature, like many of Winton’s essays, but it is also about its danger and the quickness with which it can end lives.

In terms of how it’s written, it is quite grandiose and abstract in its description of the ocean: “the grey-wolf sea lies, snarling, cold twilight wind splits the waves’ hair.”

This line shows the impressive way Wright creates an image of the ocean, capturing both a sense of beauty and terror within her description. In addition, its irregular structure and tonal shifts allow the short poem to present much in a small number of words.

You can read ‘The Surfer’ by Judith Wright, here.

Araby’ by James Joyce (The Merchant of Venice)

James Joyce’s ‘Araby’ is a short story set in early 20th century Dublin, about a boy who believes he is deeply in love with the sister of one of his friends.

However, it is quite clear to the audience that his love has more to do with adolescent infatuation than genuine romance. While the text is quite dense, it’s worth unpacking, as there’s much to talk about, and the connections to The Merchant of Venice run throughout it, particularly in the ‘love’ of the protagonist.

Like the doubtful purity of Bassanio’s love for the wealthy Portia, the nameless protagonist is obsessed with the girl he is infatuated with.

There is also the common concept of a trial that the lover must face to prove himself: In The Merchant of Venice, Bassanio has to select the correct casket to win Portia, while the protagonist of ‘Araby’ feels his journey to buy a gift for his beloved is a religious challenge.

Being a James Joyce story, the prose is quite dense and tricky, but it’s definitely rewarding once you burrow into it. Joyce makes a number of religious allusions and has strong imagery throughout, meaning there’s plenty to make an argument with.

The protagonist’s emotions are rendered in precise detail and if you’re willing to study hard on a story, you’ll go well with this one!

You can read ‘Araby’ by James Joyce, here.

The Lobster by Yorgan Lanthimos (Nineteen Eighty-Four)

The Lobster is a comedic dystopian film wherein the protagonist is sent to a hotel to find a mate, because he lives in a society where it has become illegal to be single.

It’s a satirical, dark, and quite violent film which touches on many of the same issues as George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, only instead of being oppressively bleak, it has a deadpan sense of humour and while it is a very, very weird film, there’s plenty to analyse in terms of experiences it has in common with Orwell’s novel.

In addition, it’s also very much in conversation with Nineteen Eighty-Four, using references in the film amidst the silliness.

As well as these, it provides a commentary on individual autonomy, rebellion against an unjust system, and finding love in a repressive environment, which are all experiences also explored in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

The Lobster is a ‘weird indie film,’ and has a number of distinct visual features which you can analyse, like unusual camera angles, interesting choices of costume, and a very deep undercurrent of symbolism.

For a recap on the visual techniques you might have forgotten about… check out our article here!

There’s much to say about this one — and much that has been said! Because it’s a recent film directed by a man with a huge following, much analyses is online, if you look around.

Check out the trailer (The Lobster is on Netflix):

‘Listening to Michael Jackson in Tehran’ by Ali Alizadeh (Billy Elliott)

This poem, written by Ali Alizadeh, is about the persona’s attempt to make himself stand out amidst his peers in 1980’s Tehran, the capital of Iran, which had recently experienced the Islamic Revolution.

In his attempt to do so, he draws attention to his forbidden Michael Jackson cassette, only to discover that his peers are also commonly consuming American pop culture.

It stands as an interesting text to discuss alongside Billy Elliott: both deal with the childhood pressure to fit in and belong, but do so in very different ways.

The persona in ‘Listening to Michael Jackson in Tehran’ wishes to make his “cowardly, chubby, unpopular / self” be known as rebellious for his possession of a forbidden item, while the titular character of ‘Billy Elliott’ must deal with the stigma against the fact that he stands out.

While the poem might appear quite simple on first glance, it offers quite a lot to talk about: it has a strong ironic tone, through, makes allusions to pop culture, and uses highly evocative language to describe the persona’s experience.

Just be sure not to slip into confusing the poet with the persona, as often happens when students analyse poems written in the first-person: while it’s highly probable the poet is writing from personal experience, there’s still a difference between the two!

You can read ‘Listening to Michael Jackson in Tehran’ here. 

‘Lamb’ by Emma Freeman (Past the Shallows)

‘Lamb’, winner of Tropfest all the way back in 2002, is great to pair with Favel Parrett’s ‘Past The Shallows’ because it deals with similar issues to the novel, but in very different ways.

Both texts involve a father-son relationship, a struggle with the natural world, and a regional Australian setting.

However, the relationship is one which is positive in ‘Lamb’, the struggle with nature is a drought, and rather than coastal Tasmania, the short film takes place in unspecified farmland. This means that while there are parallels, you can also contrast the two texts’ different treatments of the same themes.

On a more technical level, ‘Lamb’ might seem to be fairly light in terms of analysis, but there’s plenty to talk about with a critical viewing.

For one, the film’s development of its atmosphere is simply yet intricate, with its score, minimal dialogue, and range of shots used to develop a strong sense of place and mood.

Other elements to discuss include the usage of props, like the bowl and the rope, to emphasise the hardships of the films’ characters and otherwise allow the audience to understand their internal worlds.

You can watch ‘Lamb’ here:

The Complete List of Recommended Related Texts for Texts and Human Experiences:

Prescribed TextRecommended Related Texts
The Merchant of Venice (Shakespearean drama)‘In the Penal Colony’ (Franz Kafka, short story)

Jasper Jones (Craig Silvey, novel)

‘Strange Fruit’ (Billie Holiday, song)

‘Araby’ (James Joyce, short story)

The Pianist (Roman Polanski, film)
1984 (novel)‘If We Must Die’ (Claude McKay, poem)

‘Harrison Bergeron’ (Kurt Vonnegut, short story)

‘Flowering Judas’ (Katherine Ann Porter, short story)

‘Hotel Room, 12th Floor’ (Norman MacCaig, poem)

The Handmaid’s Tale (Bruce Miller’s adaptation of Atwood’s novel, media)
The Boy Behind the Curtain (non-fiction)‘The Harvest’ (Amy Hempel, short story)

‘On Her Knees’ (Tim Winton, short story)

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (Wes Anderson, film)

‘The Surfer’ (Judith Wright, poem)

‘A Sunrise on the Veldt’ (Doris Lessing, short story)
Collected poems of Rosemary Dobson (poetry)'Story of Your Life' (Ted Chiang, novella)

‘Harrison Bergeron’ (Kurt Vonnegut, short story)

The Intouchables (Olivier Nakache & Eric Toledano, film)

‘The Story of an Hour’ (Kate Chopin, short story)

Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell, film)
Selected poems of Kenneth Slessor (poetry)‘A Lady of Bayou St John’ (Kate Chopin, short story)

‘Marriage a la Mode’ (Katherine Mansfield, short story)

‘Jacko’s Reach’ (David Malouf, short story)

The Scream (Edvard Munch, painting)

‘Neighbors’ (Tim Winton, short story)
All the Light We Cannot See (novel)Saving Private Ryan (Steven Spielberg, film)

‘Letter to my Wife’ (Miklos Radnoti, poem)

‘Moonlight Alert’ (Yvor Winters, poem)

Hugo (Martin Scorcese, film)

Maus (Art Spiegelman, graphic novel)
I am Malala (non-fiction)‘If I should have a daughter’ (Sarah Kay, spoken word poem)

A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khaled Hosseini, novel)

New Boy (Steph Green, short film)

‘St Patrick’s College’ (Peter Skryznecki, poem)
‘What Kind of Times Are These’ (Adrienne Rich, poem)
Billy Elliot (film)‘Please Resist Me’ (Luka Lesson, spoken word poem)

The Peasant Prince (Li Cunxin, picture book)

‘Listening to Michael Jackson in Tehran’ (Ali Alizadeh, poem)

‘Howl’ (Alan Ginsberg, poem)

‘Neighbors’ (Tim Winton, short story)
The Crucible (drama)‘Caged Bird’ (Maya Angelou, poem)

'The Scarlet Letter' (Nathaniel Hawthorne, novel)

‘Nose Dive’ (Joe Wright, episode from television series Black Mirror)

‘Ozmandias’ (Percy Bysshe Shelley, poem)

House of Cards (Beau Willimon, media)
Vertigo (novel)‘Roots’ (John Piller, poem)
Rainbow’s End (drama)The Sapphires (Wayne Blair, film)

‘Winning performance at Australian Poetry Slam Grand Final 2018’ (Melanie Mununggurr-Williams, spoken word poetry)

‘Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples’ (Kevin Rudd, speech)

‘This is Nat, she’s Abo’ (Natalie Cromb, short story)

Redfern Now (Blackfella Films, media)
Past the Shallows (novel)‘Barn Owl’ (Gwen Harwood, poem)

'2017 University of Southern California Commencement Speech’ (Will Ferrell, speech)

‘Gardens of the Human Condition’ (Michael Leunig, cartoon - The Age, 8 October 1988)

‘A videogame to cope with grief’ (Amy Green, TED talk)

‘The Raven’ (Edgar Allan Poe, poem)
Go Back to Where You Came From and The Response (media)The Arrival (Shaun Tan, graphic novel)

‘Bent to the Earth’ (Blas Manuel de Luna, poem)

‘Usage’ (Hayan Charara, poem)

‘Maiden Speech to the Australian Senate’ (Mehreen Faruqi, speech)

Lamb (Tropfest, short film)
Wasteland (media)Trash (Andy Mulligan, novel)

‘Urban Warming’ (Truth Thomas, poem)

'He-y, Come On Ou-T' (Shinichi Hoshi, short story)

‘Slums’ (John Frederick Nims, poem)

Partly Cloudy (Pixar, short film)

If you’re looking for even MORE related text recommendations, check out our crowdsourced list of Related Texts, from the HSC English Discussion Group!

So, how do I analyse and use these related texts?

Once you have settled on a related text, consider the following questions:

What human experiences are represented in this text? How are they represented?

 

What similarities exist between your prescribed and related text?

 

What differences exist between your prescribed and related text?

You should also create a TEE table to summarise your technical analysis.

TECHNIQUE QUOTE ANALYSIS
Technique goes here. Quote goes here. Brief analysis goes here. You can use dot point if you want.

For a comprehensive guide on creating and using your TEE Tables check out our article, here. 

Ensure you practice writing about your related text just as you would with your prescribed text. Get a hold of any practice essay questions you can and have a go at writing a paragraph or so on your related material.

We’ve got an article with practice short answer questions for Texts and Human Experiences here. And an article with practice essay questions that you can find here.

No matter which related text you pick, keep in mind that it’s a personal choice: if you can’t stand your chosen text, don’t stick with it!

As, hopefully, you stick with it, you’re going to want something that resonates with or compels you, which will encourage you to really know about whatever it is you pick inside and out.

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