English Literature

Do you have a passion for reading? Are you interested in the human condition? Do you want an A-Level that is recognised as beneficial to any and all career pathways?

Beauchamp City Sixth Form follows the AQA English Literature B specification. This is a very contemporary approach to Literature which fully subscribes to the ‘Death of the Author’ theory and is interested in individual responses to the texts that students will read and experience. The specification welcomes quirky and independent interpretations of canonical and modern texts, and the coursework unit allows students the opportunity to make their own totally independent choices of texts to explore.

At Beauchamp City Sixth Form, the texts and your responses to them come first, but they will be studied through two specific genre lens: Aspects of Tragedy – a traditional literary genre and Elements of Crime Writing, a more modern and popularist genre.

Exam Board
AQA English Literature B

Aspects of Tragedy
During this unit you will study Shakespeare’s Othello in great detail; getting up and close and personal with the compelling yet repugnant Iago. You will also be exploring love and race relations in Shakespeare’s time through the doomed Othello whose honest passion for Desdemona is manipulated into something dark and sinister. You will also study a modern tragedy; Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, and one of Shakespeare’s history plays, Richard II. Both of these narratives allow you to explore the dangers of pride and ambition through their complex and inevitably flawed characters.

Elements of Crime Writing
This unit looks at modern literary classics such as Ian McEwan’s Atonement and Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd as well as a selection of more canonical poetry from Browning, Crabbe and Wilde. During this unit you will explore how elements of crime writing are employed by writers to question the natures of innocence and criminality, and consider if a character can ever be considered one or the other.

How should I prepare for A-Level study?
Rather than reading the set texts, you should read widely around them. Try out a number of crime texts, picking those that capture your own interest. Anything from Sarah Waters to John Grisham would be a great place to start. Perhaps go to see a Shakespeare play – any would be beneficial. There are always performances on at Stratford, but you could also watch some of the BBC productions on DVD such as The Hollow Crown series.

Future Careers
As a facilitating subject, English Literature is an excellent foundation for higher education. Students of English go on to perhaps the widest variety of careers of any A-Level. Previous students have gone on to careers in anything from law to medicine, journalism to marketing and the theatre to academia.

“That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you're not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.”
- F. Scott Fitzgerald