Archive for November, 2012

Extension 2 students need to show evidence of wide reading in their journal, and a solid background in literature and theory will add depth to a major project. Whether your plan is poetry, essay, short story, or film, here are some ideas to get you started:

Brain Pickings

Brain Pickings is a human-powered discovery engine for interestingness, culling and curating cross-disciplinary curiosity-quenchers, and separating the signal from the noise to bring you things you didn’t know you were interested in until you are.” Great book reviews of texts you might not come across otherwise.

The Guardian Books Podcast

This podcast is presented by editor of Guardian books Claire Armitstead, and includes author interviews, readings and discussions.

The Times Literary Supplement

Although you won’t have access to all the content without a subscription, it’s still worth browsing the articles, particularly the poem of the week.

In searching for other readings, you should consider three areas: text type, subject and genre. If you’re making a film about migrant experiences then you need to research the technical aspects of film making, as well as migrant experiences (both non-fiction and fiction, in film and prose), and biopic or documentary.  Remember that as well as your Extension 2 adviser, you have an ally in your Teacher Librarians. Their extensive knowledge of resources including online materials and databases will help to save you time as you search for inspiration.


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PHSC: Studying Context

An understanding of context is integral to an understanding of texts; however, many students seem to struggle with what it is about the context that they need to know. I’ve broken it down to an easy to remember acronym: PHSC (because you want to Pass the HSC).

P is for Personal.

A composer’s personal experiences can influence the way in which they create. This is particularly significant for more recent “confessional” writers such as Sylvia Plath (and, by extension, Ted Hughes), but it can also be important for composers from Shakespeare to Weldon.

H is for Historical.

This refers to the big world-changing events that occur during a composer’s lifetime or those that occured earlier that shaped the world in which the composer lived. When I ask students for an example of this from their own lives, they almost always reply, “September 11, 2001,” and they’re right. For Shelley it’s the Industrial Revolution, for Scott, the Cold War, for Shakespeare, the Protestant Reformation, and for Austen, the Regency.

S is for Social.

This is to do with a composer’s social status: their economic capacity and their level of education, as well as their social connections and any social movements occurring during their era.  Think about the influence of the Civil Rights Movement on Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and how that translates into Blade Runner. Think about the rise of the middle class in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and what this means for social mobility in Great Expectations and Pride and Prejudice.

C is for Cultural

Major cultural movements play out in all forms of art, from literature and poetry to painting and architecture. Renaissance, Romanticism, Modernism and Postmodernism are the ones you’re most likely to come across in Advanced English.

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It’s your life – but only if you make it so. The standards by which you live must be your own standards, your own values, your own convictions in regard to what is right and wrong, what is true and false, what is important and what is trivial. When you adopt the standards and the values of someone else or a community or a pressure group, you surrender your own integrity. You become, to the extent of your surrender, less of a human being.

This quote by Eleanor Roosevelt raises the key issues of individuality and conformity as aspects of belonging. Her book, You Learn by Living, would make a great related text for Area of Study.

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