The Year 11 English Advanced Module A has changed to ‘Narratives That Shape Our World’
If you are unaware of the changes that come along with Narratives that Shape our World, don’t fret. Available on our website is a comprehensive guide to the new changes, and the new common module, is located here.
One of the most important change is to the modules that Preliminary HSC and HSC students will now be studying is changed. Year Eleven students will now be studying ‘Narratives That Shape Our World.’
What’s the deal with Year 11 English Advanced Module A: ‘Narratives That Shape Our World’?
Stories about stories
Every day, whether we are aware of it or not, our day-to-day lives are shaped by stories. This is the idea that’s at the core of ‘Narratives That Shape Our World.’ It has a focus on perspective in storytelling, and the nature of ‘stories in stories.’
For instance, in Othello, one of the suggested events, much of the characters recount events and experiences, spread stories about one another, give false information, and relate dreams. All of these are forms of story-telling.
In this unit, students learn that point of view is central to narrative and manifests itself through the points of view of characters, narrators, composers and audiences. In examining the processes of characterisation and point of view, students evaluate how narratives shape texts and influence response.
In ‘Narratives That Shape Our World, you will consider:
The powerful role of stories and storytelling as a feature of narrative in past and present societies, as a way of: connecting people within and across cultures, communities and historical eras; inspiring change or consolidating stability; revealing, affirming or questioning cultural practices; sharing collective or individual experiences; or celebrating aesthetic achievement.
For another example of what it means, is another one of the suggested texts; Sophie Laguna’s ‘Eye of the Sheep.’ Told from the perspective of a child, the novel fits well into the unit because it’s a demonstration of how the way stories are shaped has an impact on the world.
Narratives can also be portrayed in “a range of modes, media and forms.” What this means is that fiction and plays will not be the only texts studied. You could watch a film, study poems, or listen to a speech that uses narrative.
Changes to number and values of assessment tasks.
Secondly, NESA has set firmer rules about how schools can assess you in HSC English:
- There should be THREE assessment tasks set in Year 11
- Each task can only weigh between 20-40%
- Schools can only set ONE formal exam during the year
This is good news, because it means the number and type of assessments that students across NSW are given are relatively similar. In other words, this means there will be less variation in assessments between schools.
For assessment in Stories That Shape Our World, students will likely be analysing a prescribed text which plays with idea of narrative alongside a chosen related text. In particular, they will likely be focusing on how ways of changing the ways storytelling is done changes the meaning.
For instance, you might have to analyse how a text creates meaning through manipulating the audience through playing with narrative convention.
So what is HSC English Advanced Module A: ‘Narratives that Shape Our World’ all about?
There are four ‘essential questions’ that encompass the themes explored in the unit:
1. How does narrative shape our understanding of the world?
This inquiry question is talking about a reader’s response to a narrative text. Have you ever read a book or watched a movie and afterwards, felt like your perspective on the world had shifted or that your view of the world had changed? That’s what this question is all about!
In this Module, the focus is not on passively reading or watching a text, but actively engaging with and responding to it within the context of the text, and in the context of our world.
2. In what ways are the characters in texts imaginative rehearsals for ways of living?
This question is all about a reader’s personal response to a text, and how this response can shape one’s actions and behaviours. This question also deals with the idea that humans, throughout time, have used narratives to give meaning to and make sense of their lives.
This questions relates to the themes of identity, culture, language and the relationship between the text and its reader. The concept of an ‘imaginative rehearsal’ is that readers can see human stories play out in narrative texts, as a kind of rehearsal for human stories in reality.
3. Can an unreliable character be a reliable narrator?
This question explores the idea that the point of view of the narrator can influence the narrative of a text. In particular, you will examine and evaluate how point of view shapes interpretations of narratives, how composers experiment with stylistic effects to create point of view, and how we may determine whether a narrator is reliable.
4. How is narrative point of view used to create authority in documentary texts?
This question relates to unreliable characters being reliable narrators, but in non-fiction texts, instead of fiction texts.
So, instead of analysing texts in terms of literary techniques common for fiction texts, you’ll be looking at the ways composers of non-fiction texts use literary and visual techniques to convey their narratives.
So, how do I do well in HSC English Advanced Module A: Narratives that Shape Our World?
1. Investigate how narratives can be re-conceptualised for new audiences
They may investigate how narratives can be appropriate, reimagined or reconceptualised for new audiences
This part of the syllabus indicates that it is likely you will engage with texts that are ‘modernisations’ of old texts, with a focus on why and how they change. This could involve looking at and engaging with adaptations, as well as looking at ‘metafiction:’ essentially, stories manipulate narrative in innovative ways.
Step 1: Familiarise yourself with narrative devices
Next, you need to be able to identify language techniques and to understand how the use of certain language shapes meaning in a text.
Many students simply find a quote containing a technique they’re familiar with and vaguely connect it to a theme or concept they’ve heard their teacher talk about in class.
Slapping a quote and technique together as if it’s a sandwich is not what you should be doing.
Writers intentionally use language to create meaning, and you need to be able to identify and explain this with specific examples from the text. You also need to be able to identify that the type of text and structure of the text is important in shaping the meaning.
If you need some help recognising and identifying literary techniques, check out our complete HSC English Literary Techniques Cheatsheet!
Step 2: Develop your knowledge of texts which reimagine other texts
Research why, and to what effect, composers create texts which reference, appropriate, or otherwise re-conceptualise old narratives for new audiences!
You can do this by taking one text and the reimagining of that text and comparing them. Think about their similarities and differences:
The two texts tell the same story, but how is the effect of the story different between the two texts?
What features are similar between the two texts? Why do you think both authors decided to preserve this feature?
What is different between the two texts? Why do you think the authors have changed this feature?
2. Conduct a Close Study of Selected Texts
Students analyse and evaluate one or more print, digital, and/or multimodal texts to explore how narratives shaped by the contexts of composers (authors, poets, playwrights, directors, designers, and so on) and responders alike.
Through this module you’ll be exploring how composers control the way the audience responds to a text.
How does a composer control and shape the way an audience responds to a text?
Composers use literary techniques to control and shape the way the audience responds to a text. Additionally, the meanings expressed using techniques will be shaped by the context the texts were created in.
Step 1: Ask your teachers what texts you’ll be looking at and find them!
Ideally, you will have found and read your texts before you need to have read them!
Bonus points if you start researching your related texts…
Step 2: Research context
As context and values is an important part of the unit, it would be wise to, once you know who you will be studying, do some research on some context, and find ways to link it to the forms and features present within your texts!
Here are some prompts to get you started:
- Write a short paragraph on the writer and his or her life. What was their family background and upbringing like? Where are they from? What was the historical period in which they were writing?
- What is the historical period in which this particular text was written?
- What are ways in which the text has been influenced by the writer and/or the context in which the text was written?
Step 3: Get started on your TEE Tables
Once you’ve brushed up on your techniques, it’s time to apply that knowledge to your texts!
Creating a TEE Table is the best way to develop a ‘bank’ of examples of ways composers create meaning in their texts. This will serve as part of your study notes for English AND make it easier for you to find examples in your texts to back up your arguments in essays and analysis.
If you need some help getting started on your TEE Table for Module A, we’ve got an awesome article to help you out – click here!
3. Compose your own imaginative texts
Students work individually and collaboratively to evaluate and refine their own use of narrative devices to creatively express complex ideas about their world in a variety of modes for a range of purposes and critically evaluate the use of narrative devices by other composers.
There will be an imaginative writing section of this unit: as the Area of Study, which was where all imaginative writing in the Year Eleven course once was, is finished, it is now in the new modules. This is present in this section of the NESA description:
Step 1: Practice your writing
Given the writing-heavy nature of the unit, it’s important to make sure you’re a fluent writer, in both analytical and imaginative writing. The most consistent way to do this is practice.
If you’re having trouble figuring out how you should be writing, check out one of our guides to creative writing, here.
- The new ‘Narratives That Shape Our World’ module replaces the ‘Comparative Study of Text and Culture module.
- This new module has a focus on how voice, perspective, and other narrative devices shape the way we read texts.
- Assessment will concentrate on student’s writing skills, which includes both analytical writing and creative writing.
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Cameron Croese completed his HSC in 2013, earning first place in his cohort in Advanced English, Extension English 1, and Extension English 2. Privately tutoring throughout his university career as an English and Education student, he enjoys helping his students at Art of Smart understand, write well on, and enjoy their texts, as well as assisting with other aspects of school life. He is a contributing editor to his student magazine, in which he has had reviews, feature articles, and short stories published.