THE MODULE B RUBRIC
This module is probably the easiest to understand, but also the one which arguably requires the most work. The thing to remember about Mod B is that you MUST know your text. Module B questions are structured such that you will not be able to get away with a casual or superficial knowledge of the text. The rubric can basically be divided into three parts, apart from the typically vague introductory part:
This module requires students to explore and evaluate a specific text and its reception in a range of contexts. It develops students’ understanding of questions of textual integrity.
Each elective in this module requires close study of a single text to be chosen from a list of prescribed texts. Students explore the ideas expressed in the text through analysing its construction, content and language. They examine how particular features of the text contribute to textual integrity.
We can see here that there are two main elements to be understood – the idea that you’ll need to know the text inside out (close study) and that you need an operative understanding of how the text is put together. The concept at play here is “textual integrity”, which is basically a term referring to the way the text is built. What we’re concerned with here is elements of structure, form, technique, etc., that are designed to carry and develop ideas over the whole of the text, and more particularly, how they do this.
They research others’ perspectives of the text and test these against their own understanding and interpretations of the text. Students discuss and evaluate the ways in which the set work has been read, received and valued in historical and other contexts.
It’s also important to step outside the confines of our own school and historical period in order to see how the text has evolved, in the minds of responders, over time. What they’re hinting at here is that it would be a good idea to be familiar with other critical interpretations of the text, as well as its context and development from creation to now. A Mod B text is always going to be a big famous one – the kind that everyone either has read or pretends to have. This means that it will be an important text, for whatever reasons, and this importance needs to be tracked over time, as well as and in parallel with the ideas within it.
They extrapolate from this study of a particular text to explore questions of textual integrity and significance. Students develop a range of imaginative, interpretive and analytical compositions that relate to the study of their specific text. These compositions may be realised in a variety of forms and media.
What they’re basically talking about here is how you’re going to be assessed. What you should take away from this is that as well as your practice essay you should be prepared, if required, to make mind maps, write feature articles, creative pieces (though not in the HSC exam), or otherwise present and argue in ways that are not a traditional essay.
THE TYPICAL MOD B QUESTIONS
At first glance it seems that this module contains an intimidating range and variety of questions. Careful examination, however, shows us that there are really only three broad category of potential questions. While the wording and foci may be seem completely different for each question, it can be said that all Mod B questions will deal with either enduring value, theme, or critical interpretation.
- ENDURING VALUE
Enduring value questions ask you to argue that the text continues to have impact and/or significance in the modern world. In order to do this, you’re going to need to establish that the techniques, ideas, and issues in the text still resonate today and across time. Yeats and Hamlet are the two texts that most frequently attract these questions. Take a look at the example below:
Shakespeare’s Hamlet continues to engage audiences through its dramatic treatment of struggle and disillusionment.
In the light of your critical study, does this statement resonate with your own interpretation of Hamlet?
In your response, make detailed reference to the play.
The thing to watch out for with enduring questions is the way that they will typically zero in on one or more aspects of the play. In this case, they’re asking you to argue that the play has enduring value through the universality of its themes, in particular, “struggle and disillusionment”.
Theme questions are the ones that speak most directly to the concept of textual integrity. What questions of this sort require is that you track the carriage and development of a theme throughout the text.
Yeats’ poetry has been described as ‘a provocative portrayal of uncertainty in changing times’.
To what extent does this perspective align with your understanding of Yeats’s poetry?
In your response, make detailed reference to at least TWO of the poems set for study.
In this question, the theme they wish you to focus on is provided (change and uncertainty). It’s important, whether you’re dealing with a single text or anthology of poems, to pick passages from early, middle, and late stages of the text. With poems, this is a simple matter of chronology, whereas with a single text you obviously want evidence from the start, middle, and end. In terms of poetry, we’re at least as interested in the development of the poet – changes in style, subject matter, and tone – as they proceed through their personal and creative lives. With a single text, we’re generally looking for insights and learning on the part of the protagonist and/or changes in the representation of the various themes.
A NOTE ON TEXTUAL INTEGRITY
While this sounds like a complicated concept, it just isn’t. Try to understand the word ‘integrity’ in a physical sense. When someone talks about the integrity of a building or substance, what they’re really referring to is its structure and composition. How strong are the parts? How do they work together to make the object in question? How strong is the structure and object when viewed as a whole? And to what extent do all these factors contribute to that?
Another way to think about this is in terms of a journey. Imagine the text as a long journey for the ideas and characters within it. How do we understand each character/theme at the start? How does that change and evolve over the course of the text, and how far away are we from our initial conceptions and understandings by the end? And given all that, how exactly was this done?
Whichever way you look at it, you’re going to need at least 9-12 (at a bare minimum) strong pieces of textual evidence to build your essay, spread across the areas of theme, technique, and character, and spread more or less evenly over time/length.