Advanced English Module A: Comparative Study of Texts and Context

Advanced English Module A Comparative Study of Texts & Context

If only comparing English texts was as simple as comparing apples and oranges

 

This module requires you to compare texts and explore them in relation to their contexts. You will have to read/view two texts and compare their themes and the different ways they reflect their social, cultural and historical context. You will also have to consider the language used the purpose and audience, the values and the attitudes conveyed in each of your texts. Many students find this module the most difficult in the English course, but by the end of this blog post, you will see that once you understand the basics, this module will seem a whole lot less intimidating!

As usual, the syllabus uses a lot of big fancy words to try and confuse students and trick them into thinking this module is harder than it really is. In short, this module wants you to:

  •  Show that you actually read/watched two texts and only refer to those texts

No related texts are required in this module.

  • Compare and contrast the various themes, ideas, values and attitudes conveyed in the texts

This is the essence of the module. Regardless of which elective you study, the overarching aim of your study in Module A is to get you to look at different themes, ideas values and attitudes and how these are conveyed in similar and contrasting ways in various texts. This will always be the first place to start when analysing your texts. You need to first analyse your texts individually, and then look for connections or contrasting features between the two texts.

Themes/Ideas: This is self-explanatory, but you will need to go through your texts and identify the most important themes and ideas that the composer has chosen to explore.

Values: Values are essentially ideals and notions that people attach a lot of significance to e.g. the values of security and stability or superficial values such as wealth and material things. You will need to identify values and how composers have integrated these into their texts.

Attitudes: You will need to acknowledge the different attitudes the characters/narrator may represent in each of the texts. This will include considering how the characters/narrator view and respond to certain events and what comments they may make generally about the context of the story.

  • Understand the context of your texts

This will involve doing a little bit of research into the time in which your texts are set. The context is basically any combination of the relevant circumstances, ideas, events or attitudes at any point in time that shape and help us to better understand certain events and occurrences in our world. Looking at the social, cultural and historical context will help you understand why the composer may have chosen to explore the themes they did, or why they chose to convey certain attitudes and values in their texts.

When trying to establish context, you should be looking for important historical events from the time (and how these influenced the way people behaved and the way the world functioned in this time), the things people valued and believed, common attitudes at the time on different issues and any issues that were hotly debated and considered in this time.

  • Study the use of language in your texts

This indicates that this module is not only looking at context and ideas, but also the technical elements of language. This module requires you to analyse your texts in depth and look at how they have used various literary and/or visual techniques to create meaning. In comparing these, you should come to conclusions about how language is used to convey ideas and how important language is now and will always be in our world.

  • Consider the purpose and form of your texts

You will need to look closely at the deliberate choices the composer has made in form and throughout the actual text to draw conclusions about why they chose the form they did and why they explored themes in the way that they did. This can sometimes be confusing as it can be hard to determine exactly what was going through the composers head when they made decisions about form and what themes they wanted to explore. However, it will really add to your essay for this module if you can show that you understand the composer’s purpose and how they achieve this in the text, and why they chose to create the text using whatever form they did.

  • Show the different ways in which texts can be related

The aim of this whole module is to get you to see that our understanding of texts can be improved by comparing different texts and looking at the ways they deal with similar issues and themes and how they employ language to create meaning. Thus, you will need to consider the ideas above, pointing out that texts can be linked by their use of language and different techniques, as well as by the values, ideas, issues and themes they explore and comment on.

That is enough about Module A for now. For more detailed information, see the posts on each individual elective within Module A.

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