The Critical Study of Literature is often considered as the most difficult topic within the English Advanced course, with average marks substantially lower than the other modules. This is primarily because students in general, struggle to both analyse the text in detail, and draw out their understanding of the text to show their personal perspective of the ideas that the composer raises.
In order to analyse, understand and appreciate the text, you are required to include these three vital components within your essay:
- Distinctive Qualities of the Text
Your first approach to a text in this module is to extract the aspects that characterise the specific text-type or genre. This means that you should find specific techniques and conventions that are relevant to the textual medium. For example:
- Books: figurative devices, chapter titles
- Plays: dramatic tension, dramatic irony, soliloquies
- Films: camera shots, music, montage
- Poems: figurative devices, poetic devices (i.e. rhyme, enjambment, stanzas)
- Textual Integrity
In general, textual integrity is the unity of a text. You are required to recognise the existence of textual integrity and understand:
- How well a text is built structurally, in terms of form and language
- How the structure and content of the text creates meaning
- How the text creates value regardless of context
In this section, you need to understand why the composer’s concerns are important to audiences, i.e. Why did the composer choose to raise certain ideas to the reader? The answer to this often lies within the context or purpose of the text, whereby social concerns and values have influenced the composer.
By addressing these three components, you will be able to form an informed personal perspective to engage the reader and maximise marks.