Tag Archives: OCR A level

Considering Huckleberry Finn: OCR A level introduction

A short powerpoint designed to whet the appetite… and to engage discussion prior to reading.

Huckleberry Finn


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USA Literature: Arts in context. What can we gather from music?

As I begin to prepare for teaching American Literature for OCR A level next year, I want to explore the music which parallels our study. Art is holistic. To study literature without an awareness of music and fine art, for example, would be unhelpful.

I’m not sure how best to arrange this.  I will write a summary of what i see as useful and post a link to a Spotify playlist where examples can be found.  I hope this will be interesting and useful.

Beginnings and Puritans.

Before the arrival of Europeans on the East coast, there was music. Much has become extinct, but the Native Americans had a music, largely based on rhythmic drumming which was repressed as they were systematically chased away from the new ‘civilised’ inhabitants of the New World.

These were the religious escapees from Europe and the Empire builders. Their music and their literature was largely religious and reflected the stern puritan outlook of many. In the 17th Century, music was given to the Lord and not intended for relaxation and revel – unless one was not of the Chosen People. Sure, on board ship there were shanties and popular songs; soldiers marched to rhythmic folk ditties, but these were generally not regarded as men of class or men who had any form of soul worth redeeming.  Each European group brought its own version of the music of North or South Europe and church music, as exemplified by the Bay Psalm Book of the First New England School grew up. Composers were often self-taught and their music gradually deviated from the European norm as a result. Composers such as the splendidly named, Supply Belcher, were the first authentic voices of American music.


As the 18th century saw northern Europe dominate the development of New England and East Coast culture, so the voice of Catholic South was domination development of music in states to the West of the continent. The one an austere church music based often on Scottish Presbyterian models with ‘lining’ of simple melody a feature, the other, the rich polyphony of Spanish renaissance music.

And then there were the slaves.  Drawn from the vast array of races and cultures of West Africa, they brought no single influence, though once settled, there grew up a culture based again on the religious influence – the spiritual. As the influence of Christianity became rooted in the slave society, so the expression of sorrow, pain and patience under suffering began to pour out in musical form.  A form which would eventually mutate into the blues and thence to rock and roll. In essence a true American art form.

19th Century – civil war and emancipation.

The great change to society came in the 1860s. Until,this point American society was disparate. The war forced societies to merge. The great armies brought together soldiers from the whole of the continent and the boundaries between communities developing much along the lines of the historical ethnic forebears was changed for ever. This cultural shift was helped by the emancipated slaves, whose music could now become an influence beyond the South and also to a startling rise in urbanisation following the victory of the industrial North over the Agrarian economies of the South. In or around 1890, fewer than 1 in 4 citizens lived in urban areas. By the 1920s, more than half the population lived in the great cities.

The elite in the cities of the East coast had long established themselves as facsimiles of their European cousins – Philharmonic societies and Opera companies were founded and music performed – almost entirely European music. The closest thing to an Amercian symphony at this period was Antonin Dvorak’s New World Symphony written in 1893. It is so called because it was written in America. The only evident Americanism is his use of ‘negro’ melodies. There wanted yet an American voice.  The musical directors of these companies were Europeans –   Mahler or Toscanini for example in New York.  Students of literature might compare this idea in a writer such as Kate Chopin. In her novel The Awakening, there is competition between the creole folk song – simple and alluring, the trite Europeanism of French Operetta and the emotionally explosive high Romanticism of Chopin and Wagner.  Her novel is sert in the melting pot of New Orleans. The salons of Boston, where Henry James’ heroines reside was appalled and disgusted by the impression created.  Class was European, not American. Music and Literature agreed.

So what of the non-elite?

The war brought an upsurge in Military music and in the ballad form of popular song. The music of the ‘blackface’ popular song, of composers such as Stephen Foster became subsumed into the musical lexicon of the warring factions – as did the hymns of the European tradition. The ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’ the anthem of the Union being based on the hymn John Brown’s body…’. Whilst the rousing tunes and military tread of John Philip Sousa engaged the minds of the victorious North European society of the great East Coast Urban elites., the south – the land of Dixie continued to reflect music more redolent of a mixture of cultures -Creole, Slave, and French in particular and also that of another authentic voice – the hillbilly – the lowest stratum of society, the rural poor, carving out a living in the Appalachians and other areas of the Southern States. These areas were still dominated by country music – the folk song tradition of the settlers.

At this point there is a necessary divergence:

Post war: Urban

In cities like New York, music flourished. By the early 20th century the growth of an audience for the Musical launched many a career, at the same time as the explosion in recording technology and simple publication of sheet music. Apart form the great European music widely available in the concert hall, the 3 minute song became the currency of popular music. As the ‘Jazz Age’ approached, access to music had never been simpler. The arrival of emancipation  had allowed black culture to spread rapidly. The blues, derived from spirituals had evolved into Jazz in cities like New Orleans, in the South. This in turn became blended with popular culture and hit songs like ‘Ol’ Man River’ from the musical; Show Boat blended the former slave culture with the new popular music of the North. Among the librettists on Show Boat was none other than P’G’ Wodehouse who joined composer Jerome Kern in the great hit number ‘Bill’. Boundaries were falling.  The composer who best encapsulates this era is George Gershwin. He travelled from popular song, via works for full symphony orchestra to his opera Porgy and Bess (1934). This is a true landmark of American culture – An opera in the vernacular, written about life in the poor black community, with a heart-lifting message, which does not shy away from issues such as drugs and racist bullying and which requires a black cast. It has not been universally popular -many black actors have refused to play roles which they feel perpetuate negative stereotypes – drug peddlers, prostitutes and so on, but it is a vital step in the development of an American Classical Music canon – the mixture of ragtime, keening, blues, and great romantic arias is a first fusion of the rich tapestry of music available in the America at this time.

Rural South and the birth of Jazz.

In new Orleans at the end of the 19th century the melting pot, as suggested earlier, was beginning to develop another authentic voice of American music: Jazz. This is a form associated with the black community and originates in processional and marching music based on the songs and spirituals which has typified the community hitherto.  The new feature of Jazz, over the dance-oriented forms of ragtime which represented ‘black’ music to this time, was improvisation – the free voice taking a theme and owning it – a true sense of self-expression. Ragtime, typified by composers such as Scot Joplin, the first musician from the black community to become a household name, was ubiquitous in the dance halls and bars of the country. Jazz would become the voice of the South and the voice of a race.

Jazz Age.

I’m sure every student reading Gatsby will have been asked to research the Jazz Age. What a time. Just as Gatsby’s mansion is filled with the flotsam and jetsam of an immigrant society, so music was beginning to fill its various voices. Ragtime develops into dance crazes such as the Charleston and Jazz is tamed to develop into the phenomenon which will mark the 1940s – Swing.  Improvisation is still a part of the process, but the whole is tightened and organised to best fill the three minute needs of a 78RPM  disc and to provide comfort food for the masses and in time to spread the American image overseas. Jazz would need to wait for the next artistic explosion – the be-bop experimentation of the 1950s and 60s – the erosion of rules and rejection of form that can be seen in poetry of the time and the beginnings of utterly abstract art movements.  In Gatsby, the music is ‘there’, not central, yet it is such a clear symbol of a shift in society. It is now post world war 1, the societal boundaries are breaking, a musical form which encompasses all is developing, yet it is a sanitised form of the genre – not the scream of freedom and self expression of New Orleans, but the tamer ‘danced Jazz’ of the northern cities.

In parallel change had come upon the European Classical tradition in the form of Charles Ives (1874-1954). No composer can be as worthy of consideration as the authentic voice of American Classical music even if his experimentation renders much of his music ‘difficult’ even today. He takes the sound effects of composers such as Mahler or Richard Strauss – particularly the use of ‘noises off’ and offers a specifically American take. Mahler may embed the cowbells of his Austrian heritage in his symphonies, Ives runs recognisably American marching bands straight into each other whilst establishing a musical narrative in the forefront of the hall – about as wild a rule breaking as Whitman or Eliot or other voices of modernism found in literature. The effect is disconcerting to say the least.

After Ives, Aaron Copland is probably the next voice to create a distinctively American sound. His ballet Appalachian Spring taps into an artistic movement which was seeking to link back to tradition and the ‘old ways’ in the aftermath of the War, much as the Georgian movement in Edwardian England had done. He makes dance heroes of figures of the American West in the ballets Rodeo and Billy the Kid and creates an instantly recognisably ‘American sound’ with spacious chords, slow moving often recalling the huge spaces of the country, mixed with popular folk song and religious melody recalling a more innocent time.

The European tradition continued to flourish – though not widely performed in Europe, composers such as Walter Piston and Howard Hanson followed the lead of the late 19th century 2nd New England School, writing in a highly Romantic language. There was also the influence, again, of immigrants. It is hard to decide whether composers like Stravinsky, Rachmaninov or Schoenberg can be said to be ‘American’. They are great composers resident in America, but it is hard to point to direct American influence on their music. Kurt Weill, on the other hand underwent a complete change of voice. Rejecting the Brechtian sparseness of his Berlin Years in favour of a directly American popular song sound exemplified in works like his opera Street Scene.

Post World War 2.

Now it gets complicated!

As the soldiers returned and American society tasted prosperity like never before, a new segregation developed in addition to the segregation of the blacks in the Jim Crow South. In turn the state turned on possible Communists, those opposed to the increasingly belligerent actions of the state in the Far East, those who seemed to be misfits due to their sexuality or their choice of relaxing stimulants and so forth. Each time this manifested itself, art responded accordingly. The blues developed into the teenage phenomenon of Rock and Roll (complete with lewd hip swivelling), and that in turn into the huge range of sub genres that we see today. Society was fragmenting and each fragment carried its own bubble of musical stimulus. The urban jazz world explored be-bop as an antidote to swing in the same way as the Beat poets rebelled against the strict notion of form applied to earlier poems. Writers like Bob Dylan recalled the folk music of earlier times in his largely acoustic writing of protest songs around the time of the Korean and Vietnam Wars, only joining mainstream music in 1966 with the use of electronic instruments and amplification. In the late 60s the psychedelic drug culture reached its apogee at the great Woodstock festival – free love and drugs were on the bill in New England, as well as in San Francisco – long seen as a somewhat louche city. In the classical sphere, minimalism, led by Steve Reich and Philip Glass reflected the minimalist movement in art, and a new type of Classical music was born after the war: the Film Score.

In this field, there had always been music – pianos accompanied the silent movies of the early 20th century and artists such as Charlie Chaplin not only acted but also composed his own soundtracks.  After the war, filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock altered the medium forever. In a Hitchcock film, the music is a character – the shrieking violins in psycho or the pounding orchestral pursuit in North by North West. Pre-war composers such as Eric Korngold and newer voices such as Bernard Herman rose to prominence. By the 1980s composers were stars in their own right: John Williams is probably the finest example of the group, though Elmer Bernstein and Ron Goodwin or James Horner also stand out.

Unlike in the UK where serious composers such as Ralph Vaughan Williams, William Walton and Malcolm Arnold were heard both on screen and in the concert hall, few Americans seem to have done the same. The notable exception is the remarkable Leonard Bernstein.  Composer, conductor, educator…

The post war American city was a divided place-  increasingly a divided society was withdrawing into small sections of closely guarded territory. Bernstein caught this shift like no other. His musical West Side Story merges Shakespeare with the Upper West Side of Manhattan – the gangs are now American boys and their Puerto Rican neighbours. This musical exploded onto Broadway in 1957 and caused a wave of shock and adulation. Gone was the safe ‘American musical’ in which love was chased in the strange worlds of South Pacific or sanitised Nazis. Bernstein probably has marked American Classical Music forever in this work – part Jazz, part twee glee song (the satirical Officer Krupke), part full blown Romantic Opera, this work encapsulates the divisions of the society it portrays whilst merging the Latin sounds of the Puerto Ricans with the European and ‘American’ musical language  of the Jets. A true American masterpiece for the masses.

Enough. This has strayed form my original idea – there is not enough direct Literary linking – I may have to come back to it.

The Spotify soundtrack can be found USA playlist

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Practice Questions OCR A level

In the absence of past papers and having exhausted my imagination and the titles I can cull from OCR training material, I offer these for the Pre 1900 poetry and drama paper:

1 ‘Seduction is most effectively accomplished through flattery.’

In the light of this view, consider ways in which writers represent seduction. In your answer,

compare one drama text and one poetry text from the above lists. [30]

2 ‘It is rarely good for us to get what we want.’

In the light of this view, consider ways in which writers portray appetites and desires, and theirconsequences. In your answer, compare one drama text and one poetry text from the above lists.

3 ‘Marriage can be a prison, marriage can be a paradise’

In the light of this view, consider ways in which writers portray marriage. In your answer, compare one drama text and one poetry text from the above lists.

4 ‘Literature rarely shows power being used well’.

In the light of this view, consider ways in which writers portray marriage. In your answer, compare one drama text and one poetry text from the above lists.

5 ‘Verbal wit is women’s strongest weapon’

In the light of this view, consider ways in which writers portray women’s use of language. In your answer, compare one drama text and one poetry text from the above lists.

6 ‘Life goes on but literary texts must end’

In the light of this view, consider ways in which writers end their texts. In your answer, compare one drama text and one poetry text from the above lists.

7 ‘Pride goes before a fall: the greater the pride, the greater the fall’.

In the light of this view, consider ways in which writers portray pride. In your answer, compare one drama text and one poetry text from the above lists.

8 ‘Writers, readers and audiences delight in the spectacle of sinfulness’.

In the light of this view, consider ways in which writers portray sinfulness. In your answer, compare one drama text and one poetry text from the above lists.

And this was posted recently by Anton Viesel – a teacher in Northampton:

OCR A Level Paper 1 Section 2 questions Continue reading

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Jerusalem: the Play by Jez Butterworth

Interesting stimulus for a much under-resourced play. Yr12 – read this.

Beyond the Zeitgeist

Do we  believe that Johnny “Rooster” Byron is having sex with Phaedra, the 15-year-old girl he’s sheltering from the stepfather who has apparently been sexually abusing her? And, if we do, how come we don’t think Johnny’s abusing her, too? Or do we?

These questions go to the heart of what makes this play so interesting and disturbing—and the answer is only partly that Mark Rylance embodies Johnny as such a vivid life force that we might almost forgive him anything.

The tenderness of Johnny’s third-act scene with Phaedra certainly suggests a relationship. She brings down the curtain on the second act when she suddenly emerges from his trailer in the woods and calls his name. When she emerges again in Act 3 to find Johnny alone among the dilapidated furniture scattered in the yard out front, she recounts the thrill of being crowned queen of the annual fair on…

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AS English Literature Unseen Prose (OCR)

new doc 2017-05-04 10.54.05_1

My notes for approaching the Unseen question in AS examinations. This based on the Dystopia cluster: 1984 and was a revision exercise.

Approaching the AS unseen question

H072_02_exemplars 2016 summer


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Unseen Practice for A level: possible links.


This is a work in progress table to help OCR A level students prepare for the Unseen in Dystopian Literature.  The texts cited have either been used in part as unseen practice or have been read by the students.

Typicality and textual reference in unseens

Narrative voice 1st person: Handmaid, Delirium (Oliver), Divergent, Maze Runner


  3rd person: 1984, Station 11, The Road
Narrative tone Factual: We (Zamyatin), NLMG
  figurative: time  machine,
Future improved


Brave New World, we, Ender’s Game
Future degraded The Road, (anarchic, post-apocalyptic), I am legend, Station 11, Riddley Walker, The time machine, Delirium, F451
Location Earth?


Totalitarian/ police


1984, Fahrenheit 451, Handmaid, Delirium (?)

Hunger games, the dispossessed

Location elsewhere Ready Player 1,
Location town (protection) 1984, Handmaid, We, Hunger Games
Location country (to be feared or a sanctuary)  

1984, Station 11, The Road, I am legend, Logan’s Run (sanctuary)

Time of day  
Character types  
names Ofred (offered and belonging, (Regal), Winston Smith, anonymous so universal – The Road, F451 Guy Montag – new beginnings, August (Station 11) -power
jobs 1984/F451 – destruction of (written) language, mundane employment: 1984, We, Handmaid, F451(?), War of Worlds, Wyndham novels, Children of men: Lippiatt has a high status role, Station 11 – ‘the prophet’
skills In YA skills can be more evident-  Castniss
Action Passive Handmaid
Action Active Winston Smith
Past was better 1984 – Winston perceives past as better, official documents disagree. Handmaid. Delirium, Brave New World – reservations The Road, Riddley Walker, NLMG
Capitalist or Communist takeover F451, There will come soft rains, Body Snatchers – USA 1950s/60s, Animal Farm, 1984
Destroyed individuality NLMG,1984, We, Hrarison Bergeron, Cloud Atlas (Sonmi 451)
Control by state NLMG, 1984, BNW
Mankind corrupted The Road, Chaos Walking trilogy, F451, Handmaid, Time Machine, Maze Runner
Individual against corrupt society The Road- Man and child seek redemption
Class ‘warfare’ Hunger games, Time Machine, 1984, brave new world

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Oral commentary: Merchant’s Tale lines 945-999

In my endeavour to focus Y12 on AO2, I recorded this today in a lesson. Please take a lesson – it was not pre-prepped and I make no apologies for the rough edges…

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Unseen: Station Eleven for OCR A level

This passage is taken from the 2014 novel Station Eleven by Emily Mandel.

station 11 extract.

From the outset of the passage the reader is given information about the setting which establishes mood and location. The passage is set ‘twenty years after the end of air travel’. A reader immediately recognises a common trope of Dystopian Literature in that the passage is clearly set in the future, but a future in which the conditions in which people live have been reduced with a subsequent loss of  technological knowledge. This is reminiscent of a number of Dystopias such as Mac Carthy’s The Road, Hoban’s Riddley Walker and Wyndham’s The Chrysalids to name three. The description of ‘caravans’ and the ‘symphony’ are perhaps reminiscent of the world of Riddley Walker, with itinerant players reproducing the Punch and Judy plays as a means of connection with the lost world.

The conditions in which the travelers are living are harsh and hostile: The heat is described both as metaphorically ‘white-hot’ and then again in a more prosaic yet equally alarming clarity as ‘106 Fahrenheit, 41 Celsius. We note that the thermometer is ‘twenty-five-year old’ suggesting a date for the event which plunged the society back into this un-technological state.  Within this world, the travelers are surrounded by trees which ‘pressed in close’ suggesting further stifling actions and which also are seen to have ‘erupted’ through the pavement.  Nature is reclaiming the manmade world and doing so in a violent fashion – the verb suggesting speed and violence in equal measure. Just as in The Road, where we see the manmade infrastructure of modern USA returning to the wilderness, so here, the same action is evidently taking place. However there is contrast – trees provide shade and the leaves are described as’ soft’ as they are ‘brushing’ the legs of horses and Symphony alike’. This gentle description of the emerging foliage possibly suggests that there is hope for the future and that some succour will be found in time as nature reclaims the land. At this point, though, the landscape is seen as dangerous – or in the typically understated tone of this narrative as ‘questionnable territory’.

Perhaps for this reason the group contains scouts who carry ‘weapons’ and there is a recognition that this group serve to protect the ‘Symphony’ – a group of travelling players, it seems- named after the prime artistic endeavour of the 19th century – the musical whole- who seem to be made up both of musicians and actors. Names are shared and the passage focuses on and elderly ‘director’: Gil, aged 72, and two other players: Kirsten and August. The latter name conferring a level of respect on the character with its meaning of reverence and carrying its root back to the Roman emperor Augustus. This man is seen as both a musician and an actor and also as a ‘secret poet’, an interesting designation. This is a time in which to be a poet was thing to be kept hidden, possibly because of the overt exploration of private emotion to be found in that art form. The narrator is not named – a third person narrator, seemingly omniscient tells of this unusual group of artists trekking slowly across America in the past tense. Presumably their fate is known to the narrator and the reader is engaged in finding out what will happen to the group. In many Dystopian novels the narrators or the protagonists are deliberately ordinary citizens, working in ordinary jobs – Winston Smith, for example. Here the characters are far from ordinary, and seem also to have lost an element of their identity – not only are there no surnames, but another character is referenced solely as the ‘seventh guitar’ – no name, no identification, only a job.

The characters are suffering a degree of deprivation – their shoes made from ‘automotive tyre’ which helps to explain the condition of the vehicles in which they travel. These wagons, the caravans of the Symphony, are made from functional 21st Century vehicles, such as ‘pick-up trucks’, chosen for their capacity rather than for their comfort. They have been stripped back to the basic level of function and now resemble the covered-wagons in which the American pioneers crossed the continent in the 19th Century. We learn that gasoline has come to an end, recalling again The Road and also that the trucks are pulled by horses, much as John Wyndham writes in his novel ‘The Chrysalids’. Practicality is evident in that despite the stripping-out of weight, the toughened glass remains as protection against an unnamed potential foe. As in  so many tales of a ‘fallen world’, danger lies everywhere.

Kirsten and August pass time by running lines from their production: King Lear. Again a layer is added to the intertextual subtext here as we recall a banished King wandering on the heath and slowly losing his wits as a medium for recognising the fragility and vanity of the world he has lost – the ‘pomp’ of the royal court. We assume that the message here is not dissimilar and that the Symphony are recognising the overblown and empty grandeur of the mechanised 21st century world, now ‘rendered useless’.

Their journey is laborious and dangerous. The heat is ‘relentless’ and they need to rest the horses ‘more frequently than anyone would have liked’ suggesting a compulsion both of time and also of potential danger on their journey. We know they are at Lake Michigan, but we know no end-point for the journey in this section of text, and we recall that for many, the end point is not known. For The Man and The Boy in The Road, the West Coast is a potential destination which takes on great spiritual significance. In this passage, the Symphony just walk, ‘weapons in hand’. They talk little. The only direct speech is in the form of the lines from Lear and a statement from Gil relating the action of their walking to performing on stage. There is  a sense of a world with the comfort removed – the ‘tarps’ have been painted ‘gunmetal grey’ a far-cry from the painted caravans of a travelling circus or the groups in Riddley Walker, and the vehicles have lost their comfort: the glass is a necessity and the seats removed, replaced by a bench on the roof. The name of the group – printed in capitals for emphasis – acts almost in the same way as a red cross sign – a request to leave them unmolested since they come in peace.

The passage is written in an understated manner though in no way similar to the terseness which categorises MacCarthy’s writing. There is little figurative language, and moments are often undercut by the choice of language, possibly as euphemism, to avoid unnecessary fear developing. To this end, the danger of the ‘questionable territory’ is described also as ‘fraught’ and the glass is left because it is ‘nice to have somewhere relatively safe to put the children’. In this phrase the weak adverb ‘nice’ is further reduced in impact by the adjective ‘relatively’ before the sentence reaches its true purpose by the arrival of the noun ‘children’ -the only mention of the children in the passage which has focused solely on adults of indeterminate age to this point. It is as though the passage is narrated in a tone designed to reduce the potential anxiety of the actual situation. The sentence length increases with added subordination in the fifth paragraph as the narrator seeks to give explanations for some of the changes being made -the reader becomes increasing complicit, therefore as he understands and accepts the rationales behind the vehicles being described.

The passage considers the difficulty found in surviving in post-apocalyptic world. The passage gains more interest in that the survivors focused upon carry the cultural capital of society with them. In this they resemble Riddley Walker himself – often ignorant of the heritage of the culture he carries yet driven to defend it. There is no overt Christian message or sense of a coming redemption here, just a struggle for survival of a culture, the current enemy of which is Nature itself.


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Enrichment: American Literature Day

Recently we hosted an American Literature Day for students from our school and a local school. We had around 50 Year 11s engrossed for a whole day in a range of activities designed to wet their appetites for A level study of English Literature and /or History.

Here is our collection of materials, from me, Maria Trafford (who organised the whole thing, Bethan Davies and Jonathan Pepperman.  A group of our current Lower 6th boys presented in the afternoon and covered a broad spectrum from the influences of Jazz on literature to exploration of the American Dream.

the american dream presentation (1)

usa lit extracts

chopin intertextuality


Hardship and the American Dream

Jazz2 (1)

Prohibition and Alcohol in literature


It was an exciting day for all concerned: as teachers we rarely get the chance ot talk about our passions with no ulterior motive attached.

One of the delegates, from Burnham Grammar wrote this appreciation of the day:

…It’s not the first thing you think of when someone says English literature is it? Well it wasn’t until I found myself in the pristine rooms of John Lyon listening to American History explained through major literature. Of course, the John Lyon teachers took us brilliantly though the American Constitution, but did you know that all through the Civil war and the American divide, authors were taking inspiration from real life to portray society and the American Dream?

To most, the dream that you can build yourself up from nothing, if you’re willing to work hard, is an appealing idea. This idea is the basis behind the American dream and it promotes freedom, ambition and equality, so why wouldn’t it work? Well, look into the classic works of American Literature and you can find symbolism of hardships, struggle, collapse of a dream, and the idea of hope, and where it will always get you. Take The Great Gatsby for example, a novel that not only presents these themes but also mirrors the change in American culture and attitudes through the ‘Roaring Twenties’.

Delve deeper into works of famous American authors and you find allegories depicting the role of women; the effect of prohibition; losing hope and even works that, when interpreted in different ways, hold parallels to key events in American History…and it’s all easier to understand than Shakespeare!

To Kill a Mockingbird, Little Women, The Awakening, Of Mice and Men, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Invisible Man and so many more. There are so many classic works of literature that not only tell captivating and shocking stories, but also give insight into what state America was in at the time. Yes, you can use geology to find out the history of a place, but you can also discover the divide in opinion, the prospects for the future, and the struggle of the people of that time through literature. These works can give insight into consequences in the future, help see why history shaped out as it did…and give you a really interesting A Level essay to write which is, let’s be honest, a big positive when you have to write lots of essays.

At John Lyon, I learnt masses about the impact and inspiration of American literature. I found the experience very educational, shown as I knew little of what I have written above before attending the event. I found myself immersed in the story of a place outside where I live, saw WWI from another perspective. No more Henry VIII, no more king and queens. I was given a new story to read, a story with adventure and mystery, but most importantly, I was taught about a story that shows a place most unlike the one I thought I knew.

I was presented with a story at John Lyon and there’s nothing like curiosity to entice you into a new book. And I can say right now that I want to read it.

Written by Ananya Year 11 BGS.  What a great piece of writing.

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Draft plan for through teaching at A level

This is my draft plan for teaching of A level English Literature for OCR, beginning in September 2017.  I would really appreciate any feedback and/or suggestions for improvement,

A level through teaching outline

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