What even is Year 11 English Advanced Module B?

As you may already be aware, NESA has overhauled the previous Stage 6 (Year 11 and 12) English syllabuses in favour of newer ones being implemented for the first time ever with this year’s Year 11 cohort.

While there have been radical changes in the new syllabus, there are still some consistencies with the previous syllabus – in terms of both prescribed texts and modular focuses.

One of these consistencies for Year 11 English Advanced is Module B – Critical Study of Literature, aligning quite strongly with Module B from the previous syllabus.

This article will help you deconstruct and demystify Module B in order to achieve a Band 6 level result! So, let’s jump in!

What is Module B: Critical Study of Literature all about?
How Can I Study for Module B?

What is Year 11 English Advanced Module B: Critical Study of Literature all about?

To start off, let’s take a look at the rubric.

As you read through the rubric, take note of the highlighted words and phrases – what might they mean in the context of this module?

You can likely observe some trends in the highlighted words and phrases.

Within this module, there is a large focus on developing a personal response to the ideas, construction and language of a text.

You’ll also be considering your personal response in light of both others’ personal responses over time, and also the enduring relevance of the text.

So… let’s write a simplified version of the rubric:

Module B requires you to understand the construction, content and language of a text in developing your own personal interpretation. You will also consider your personal interpretation in light of other personal interpretations and will explore the enduring relevance of the text over differing contexts. The study of this module will culminate in you composing creative and/or critical responses to the text, in light of the elements mentioned previously.

Construction? Content? Language? What does it all mean?!

Understanding these terms is essential to understanding Module B.

Construction

Also known as textual form, construction refers to the way a text is – you guessed it – constructed.

You will consider elements such as the medium of the text (text type), the structure of the text and also the genre of the text. As you move through this module, you’ll quickly realise that how things are said is just as important as what things are said.

Content

Refers to the key attitudes and values of the text. Try to move beyond using the word “theme” – you’re no longer in Year 7-10. As you identify key attitudes and values in your text, also try and avoid using only one word to describe them.

For example in the play Othello, “jealousy” is not a key attitude or value.

You need to extend this theme further, beyond being simply one word – think about what message the composer is trying to convey about this aspect of subject matter. Are they trying to get a particular point across?

Language

Ahh, language techniques. The bread and butter of high school English.

Similarly to construction, understanding the language techniques used in a text helps you to understand how attitudes and values are conveyed and adds a much deeper level of meaning to your personal interpretation of the text.

When thinking – and writing – about language techniques in your text however, don’t simply provide a shopping list and identify them only for the sake of identifying them. That’s boring and has no relevance to the judgement you ultimately want to be making about the significance of your text over time.

When considering language techniques in your text, consider the following:

  • What technique has been used?
  • What is the effect of this technique?
  • Why use this particular technique over others? E.G. Why use a metaphor when hyperbole could do the job just as well? What does that metaphor bring to the line that other techniques wouldn’t?

And context? What’s that all about?

You should hopefully already be familiar with the concept of context from your previous studies in English.

Context in Module B refers to notions of time, place, society, culture and politics:

  • How have these affected the construction of your text by its composer?
  • How have they affected the way others (and yourself) have interpreted this text over time?

Understanding the relevance, or lack thereof, of your text across differing historical, cultural, social and political contexts is crucial to success in Module B.

Some schools have chosen to address this through the comparative study of an adaptation of the original Module B text.

For example, if studying Jane Austen’s Emma, the class might then watch the classic 1995 filmic adaptation, Clueless.

This is an easy way to observe contextual links at work as the adaptations are just that – reworked, reimagined but not entirely new versions of the original text to suit a different audience.

How can I develop a personal interpretation?

Have an opinion about the text and stick to it.

If you love the text (or can at least tolerate it the most out of all your English texts), think about why that is.

What compels you to enjoy this text? What might others enjoy about this text? What stands out to you? Why? This is where you will want to consider the role of construction, content, language and context in developing a personal response to the text.

On the other hand if you hate the text or are finding it a little boring, use this to your advantage!

Why has the text failed to engage you, a reader in the 21st century? Use this hatred or lack of connection with the text to consider the limitations of its construction, content, language and contextual links.

And what on earth is “textual integrity”?

Textual integrity is a term that has tripped up even the best Year 12 students so it’s good to get a handle on it now.

There are two parts to the definition of textual integrity:

  1. How all the different elements of the text come together to create a cohesive whole. In other words, how is unity created in the text? What remains consistent?
  2. How the text has remained enduringly relevant across different contexts. For example, why do we still care about Shakespeare’s Othello today even though it was written a few hundred years ago?

We can consider textual integrity as being like a boat:

How Can I Study for Module B?

First things first, read your text!

Teachers can tell when you haven’t read your text and believe me, it really comes across in your writing. As the focus of the module is for you to develop your own authentic, personal interpretation of the text, you do not want to be faking it.

Relying on Sparknotes is not enough and will get you perhaps a C-range response at most (yikes). It is extremely difficult to form a genuine, sophisticated judgement on something you haven’t even read.

Once you’ve read your text and as you read through it in class, take regular notes. Here at Art of Smart we often recommend the humble TEE table as a tried and tested way to compile effective notes for English.

TECHNIQUE EXAMPLE EFFECT
What technique has been used? Provide a quote. What’s the meaning behind this quote? What’s the effect of the technique in revealing character/plot? Why use this technique in particular?

For Module B however, as a large focus is placed on understanding how key ideas/attitudes/values have been conveyed, we can modify the TEE table as such:

ATTITUDE TECHNIQUE EXAMPLE EFFECT
What key attitude/value/s from the text are relevant here? What technique has been used? Provide a quote. What’s the meaning behind this quote? What’s the effect of the technique in revealing character/plot? Why use this technique in particular?

This helps to better organize your notes as you can coordinate them by attitude/value.

You may choose to have one giant table for the whole text (not recommended) or separate tables for each section (recommended). You can have separate tables for each attitude/value however as there is often some overlap, this might get a little messy.

Try your best to stay up to date with your TEE table and add to it as you move through the text, whether on your own or in class. If you’re lucky, your teacher may even have you create one as part of your classwork.

What’s next? Surely there’s more to it than just a TEE table?

After you have created and understood your TEE table, it’s time to consolidate this knowledge and move into writing.

Chances are, you will be writing an essay (or some other form of analytical writing) as assessment for Module B.

Get your hands on some practice questions and get writing! If you’re lucky your teacher may provide you with some however if not, we’ve got you covered.

Make sure to check out this awesome guide on how to write a Band 6 HSC English Essay from our expert, Madison!

As essay questions for Module B are generally text-specific, I have instead developed some more adaptable, generic ones that can suit any text. Have a go at either writing or planning out a response for these, get feedback on them from your tutor and/or teacher, rewrite them and get feedback again!

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