4.1 Telling Stories

The aim of this part of the subject content is to allow students to learn about how and why stories of different kinds are told. The term ‘telling’ in the title is deliberately chosen to reflect the twin aspects of how stories are told, and why stories are ‘telling’, or valuable, within societies.

Students learn about the ways in which writers and speakers present stories, beginning with a general focus on broad questions such as:

  • Why do people tell stories?
  • What ingredients do stories need to have?
  • What makes a good story?
  • How are stories told in different modes?
  • Is there a special kind of story called ‘literature’?

Drawing both on their everyday experiences of storytelling in different modes, and on published texts, students learn how language choices help to shape the representations of different worlds and perspectives. They apply their knowledge to the following:

  • narratives that construct different views of a particular place
  • prose fiction that constructs imaginary worlds
  • poetry that constructs a strong sense of personal perspective.

Methods of language analysis

In working on this part of the subject content, students will learn about methods of language analysis. They will be required to adopt a close language focus, identifying salient features of language used in the respective texts.

The following list is a guide to the areas of language analysis students are expected to be familiar with:

  • phonetics, phonology and prosodics – for example, the sounds of real speech and the patterns of sound symbolism (rhyme, alliteration, onomatopoeia) that some writers employ
  • lexis and semantics – for example, the connotations of words and phrases, metaphor and idiomatic language
  • grammar – for example, how the use of pronouns can shape narrative viewpoints
  • pragmatics – for example, the assumptions made about listeners/readers by the speaker’s/writer’s language choices
  • discourse – for example, the way different text types use particular features or routines, including aspects of visual design and layout.

Remembered Places

Students study the AQA Anthology: Paris. The anthology includes a wide range of text types with a particular emphasis on non-fiction and non-literary material.

In this part of the subject content, students explore speech and other genres. They study a wide range of linguistic and generic features, as well as related issues around questions of representation and viewpoint in texts taken from a range of time periods. The anthology offers opportunities for detailed exploration of the ubiquitous nature of narrative and systematic study of the representation of place. In studying, thinking, and writing about the anthology, students consider:

  • the ways in which writers and speakers present places, societies, people and events
  • the metaphorical nature of representation: the ways that narrative itself can sometimes be seen as a personal journey for writers and speakers
  • the influence of contextual factors such as time period, race, social class and gender on the content and focus of narratives
  • the affordances and limitations of different media
  • different generic conventions and different purposes for communicating ideas and viewpoints about travel, people and places
  • how people and their relationships are realised through point of view, attitude, specific registers, physical descriptions, speech and thought.

This section in paper 1 is closed book. Students are not permitted to take a copy of the anthology into the examination.

Imagined Worlds

Students study one of four texts:

AuthorText
Mary ShelleyFrankenstein (1818)
Bram StokerDracula
Margaret AtwoodThe Handmaid’s Tale
Alice SeboldThe Lovely Bones

In this part of the subject content, students explore the imagined worlds of these texts which are characterised by unusual narratives, narrators and events. Students also consider key aspects of the texts which place them in particular contexts of production and reception. Students analyse the language choices made by writers in order to study the following:

  • point of view
  • characterisation
  • presentation of time and space/place
  • narrative structure.

This section of paper 1 is open book. Students may take a copy of their set text(s) into the examination. These texts must not be annotated and must not contain additional notes or materials.

Poetic Voices

Students study poems from one of four poets within the AQA Poetic Voices Anthology:

  • John Donne
  • Robert Browning
  • Carol Ann Duffy
  • Seamus Heaney.

The poems prescribed for study for each poet (and included in the AQA Anthology) are as follows.

Poet Poems
John Donne Air and Angels
The Anniversary
The Apparition
The Canonization
The Flea
The Good Morrow
Woman's Constancy
Elegy: To His Mistress Going to Bed
A Jet Ring Sent
The Relic
The Sun Rising
The Triple Fool
Twicknam Garden
A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
Elegy: His Picture
Robert Browning My Last Duchess
The Lost Leader
The Laboratory
Cristina
Johannes Agricola in Meditation
Porphyria's Lover
Home Thoughts, From Abroad
Meeting at Night
Parting at Morning
'De Gustibus–'
Prospice
Carol Ann Duffy (selected from Mean Time) The Captain of the 1964 Top of the Form Team
Nostalgia
Before You Were Mine
Beachcomber
First Love
Valentine
The Biographer
Litany
Stafford Afternoons
The Cliché Kid
Small Female Skull
Never Go Back
Close
Mean Time
Seamus Heaney (selected from New Selected Poems 1966-1987) Digging
Blackberry-Picking
Mid-Term Break
Night Drive
Broagh
Punishment
The Otter
Hailstones
Death of a Naturalist
Follower
Personal Helicon
Bogland
The Tollund Man
Strange Fruit
The Skunk

This part of the subject content is concerned with the nature and function of poetic voice in the telling of events and the presentation of people. In studying the role of language in the construction of perspective, students explore and analyse:

  • the presentation of time: understanding the past, reviewing past experiences, the manipulation of time
  • the importance of place: locations and memories, the ways in which these are captured in voice(s), and their effect on individuals
  • how people and their relationships are realised through point of view, attitude, specific registers, physical descriptions, speech and thought
  • the presentation of events through the poet’s selection of material, the use of narrative frames and other poetic techniques.

This section of paper 1 is open book. Students may take a copy of their set text(s) into the examination. These texts must not be annotated and must not contain additional notes or materials.