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This specification has a distinct philosophy which centres on different ways of reading and on the connections which exist between texts. Study of texts is enhanced by the study of critical theory in the non-exam assessment. In this way, students can gain a solid understanding of how texts can be connected and how they can be interpreted in multiple ways so that students can arrive at their own interpretations and become confident readers. Students are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed for both exams and non-exam assessment.

The specification encourages the exploration of texts in a number of different ways:

  • the study of texts within specific genres
  • the study of texts through engagement with a range of theoretical ideas
  • writing about texts in a number of different ways.

Genre study is at the heart of English Literature B and the four broad genres available for study are tragedy, comedy, crime writing and political and social protest writing. The texts offered are not necessarily classic examples of established genres and this is reflected in the modifying words ‘aspects of’ and ‘elements of’. Indeed, the specification takes into account the fact that writers often subvert the genre in which they are writing.

Working with genre involves looking at ways in which authors shape meanings within their texts. It also involves thinking about a wide range of relevant contexts, some of them to do with the production of the text at the time of its writing, some (where possible) to do with how the text has been received over time and contexts to do with how the text can be interpreted by readers now. Looking at texts as generic works involves connecting individual texts with others, as the whole idea of genre is a connective one. And finally, because genres and their qualities are not fixed, this means that interpretation is not fixed, and that multiple interpretations are possible.

This specification reflects the belief that the assessment objectives (AOs) work best together, producing a rounded and holistic view of English literature. Thus all five AOs are assessed in each question. These are:

  • AO1: Articulate informed, personal and creative responses to literary texts, using associated concepts and terminology, and coherent, accurate written expression.
  • AO2: Analyse ways in which meanings are shaped in literary texts.
  • AO3: Demonstrate understanding of the significance and influence of the contexts in which literary texts are written and received.
  • AO4: Explore connections across literary texts.
  • AO5: Explore literary texts informed by different interpretations

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