This week, Insight writer and Literature teacher Briony Schroor provides a general overview of the Year 12 VCE Literature course.
Year 12 Literature is an exciting course, and while it can seem a little daunting at the start of the year, it is manageable if you are organised, thoughtful and engaged.
What follows is an informal overview of the Year 12 Literature course, from a Year 12 Literature teacher. It’s a friendly guide, and should not in any way be considered a substitute for the VCAA Study Design (https://www.vcaa.vic.edu.au/Documents/vce/literature/2016LiteratureSD.pdf), which offers official and essential information about the particulars of the course.
Year 12 Literature has five set texts, which your school will have selected from VCAA’s Literature Text List, and a sixth text, which is a transformation or adaptation of one of the five. It is essential that you come to know these texts very well.
TIP: Re-read your texts consistently throughout the year, puzzling over sections, and looking for consistencies and irregularities as you come to know the texts better and better.
TIP: Engage with the form of each text by reading the poetry aloud or performing the plays. Try fun, interesting study techniques such as putting sections of the short stories to music or creating alternative front covers for your texts.
It is also important to read around your texts, especially now that literary perspectives have become such an important part of the Literature course.
TIP: Start by carefully considering what the introductions to your texts reveal about textual features and context. But don’t stop there; read other articles about your texts, and ask thoughtful questions. Do you agree with the interpretations presented or do you find them limited in some way? Are critics consistent in their analysis of your texts or do interpretations vary? Which interpretations do you like best?
TIP: Listen to podcasts, watch videos, watch your play in performance, listen to your poet recite their work, follow your authors on social media or go to hear them present at a writers festival. Become informed about the texts that you are studying.
Start talking about the texts that you are studying both in and outside the classroom. Constant discussion will help you to develop your thinking and hone your insights.
TIP: Form study groups to re-read sections of the texts together and then discuss the ideas that arise. Focus a study session on a single short passage, and identify what stylistic features make it powerful and memorable for the people in your group.
TIP: Consider online forums for different perspectives on the texts that you are studying.
In Unit 3 you will sit two SACs. These SACs are designed to help strengthen your critical thinking skills and your writing skills, as well as developing your knowledge of the texts.
Outcome 1 is the Transformation SAC, which is marked out of 50 and makes up half the assessment for Unit 3. For this task, you must consider the ways in which a version of your text in a different form, such as a film of a novel or a live performance of a play script, has a different meaning from the original text.
TIP: Engage carefully with the adapted text, looking at how it is similar to the original, and how it is different. Think about how the texts have different audiences, and consider whether the creators of the texts have similar goals or quite different ones.
TIP: As well as having a strong knowledge of the original, you must use the critical language of the form of the adapted text; for example, employ the correct cinematic metalanguage when discussing a film.
Outcome 2 is the Creative SAC, and it comes in two, unequal parts: the Reflective Commentary, which is marked out of 10, and the Creative Response, which is marked out of 40. Make sure that your response reflects an understanding of the weighting of these two tasks. Your Creative Response, which asks that you write in the style of your set text or that your writing reflects the concerns of your set text, requires considerable close analysis of the original text.
TIP: Look carefully at the text you are seeking to mimic. How does the author write? Are the paragraphs of the text short or long? Are the characters kind or cruel? When is the piece set and how do the characters respond to their contexts? You need to think very carefully about the text before you begin to create.
There are two SACs in Unit 4: the Literary Perspectives SAC and the Close Analysis SAC. These SACs are closely linked to the exam; however, they are not identical to the exam tasks. The Literary Perspectives SAC, in particular, is different from Section A of the exam, in that it requires the exploration of two critical perspectives, whereas only one perspective is necessary in the exam.
The Literary Perspectives SAC is marked out of 50 and makes up half the assessment for Unit 4. It asks you to consider two different interpretations of your text, weighing these in the development of your own view of the text.
TIP: It is important that you do not lose your individual sense of the text in this SAC. Reading critical material will help you to develop your understanding of the text, but these readings should inform your own interpretation, not replace it.
TIP: Make sure that you support your interpretation with consistent quotation and discussion of the text’s style and form.
Style and form are, of course, also very important in the Close Analysis SAC – an assessment in two parts, each worth 25 marks and each written on a different text. In this SAC, you must engage with and write about textual details, looking closely at the way in which the text is constructed, and the ways in which the author constructs meaning.
TIP: Technical language can be useful in this SAC, but quotation is essential.
Lastly, allow your passion for literature and reading to shine through. Literature is the study of texts, and developing an intimate knowledge of your set texts will help you to enjoy the subject, and perform at your best.
Need a comprehensive guide to the VCE Literature course? Purchase Insight’s Literature for Senior Students 5th edition by Robert Beardwood. This textbook includes a detailed reference section as well as practical guidelines, activities, models and annotated sample responses, enabling students to build confidence and skills in all forms of literary analysis.
Literature for Senior Students 5th edition is produced by Insight Publications, an independent, Australian educational publisher.
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