4.2 Texts in shared contexts

The aim of this topic area is to encourage students to explore aspects of literature connected through a period of time.

Students will choose one of the following options:

  • Option 2A: WW1 and its aftermath
  • Option 2B: Modern times: literature from 1945 to the present day

Option A explores literature arising out of WW1, but extends this period to allow reflection on the full impact of the war that reverberates up to the present day. It considers the impact on combatants, non-combatants and subsequent generations as well as its social, political, personal and literary legacies.

Option B takes the end of WW2 as its historical starting point and explores both modern and contemporary literature’s engagement with some of the social, political, personal and literary issues which have helped to shape the latter half of the 20th century and the early decades of the 21st century.

Students should prepare for Texts in shared contexts by reading widely within their chosen option. Studying representations of the key themes identified below will allow them to encounter a range of ideas and opinions relevant to the shared context.

4.2.1 Set texts

Students will study three texts: one prose, one poetry and one drama text, at least one of which must be written post-2000. They will also respond to an unseen prose extract in the exam.

The paper for this component is open book. Students may take a copy of their set texts into the exam. These texts must not be annotated and must not contain any additional notes or materials.

Option A: WW1 and its aftermath

Although not an exhaustive list of aspects of WW1 and its aftermath, areas that can usefully be explored include: imperialism and nationalism; recruitment and propaganda; life on the front line; responses on the home front; pacifism; generals and soldiers; slaughter; heroism; peace and memorials; writers in action and writers looking back; the political and social aftermath; different and changing attitudes to the conflict; impact on combatants, non-combatants and subsequent generations as well as its social, political, personal and literary legacies.

Section A: Core set texts

Students study at least one of the six core set texts listed below:

Prose
Author Text
Pat Barker Regeneration
Sebastian Faulks Birdsong
Drama
Author Text
Joan Littlewood Oh! What a Lovely War
R.C. Sherriff Journey’s End
Poetry
Author Text
ed. Brian Gardner Up the Line to Death
ed. Catherine Reilly Scars Upon My Heart

Section B: Chosen comparative set texts

Students study two texts. These texts can be taken from the following list or from the core set text list. Any text from the core set text list used in the Section A response, however, cannot be used in Section B.

Prose
Author Text
Rebecca West The Return of the Soldier
Erich Maria Remarque (translated by Brian Murdoch) All Quiet on the Western Front (Vintage paper back edition)*
Susan Hill Strange Meeting
Ernest Hemingway A Farewell to Arms
Robert Graves Goodbye to All That
Sebastian Barry A Long, Long Way (post-2000)
Ben Elton The First Casualty (post-2000)
Pat Barker Life Class (post-2000)

*The edition of All Quiet on the Western Front which must be used is the Vintage paperback edition, translated by Brian Murdoch. We will treat the translated text as Remarque's own words for assessment purposes.

Drama
Author Text
Peter Whelan The Accrington Pals
Richard Curtis and Ben Elton Blackadder Goes Forth
David Haig My Boy Jack (post-2000)
Poetry
Author Text
ed. George Walter The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry
ed. Jon Stallworthy The Oxford Book of War Poetry
ed. Jon Stallworthy The War Poems of Wilfred Owen

Option B: Modern times: literature from 1945 to the present day

Although not an exhaustive list of aspects of Modern times, areas that can usefully be explored include: wars and the legacy of wars; personal and social identity; changing morality and social structures; gender, class, race and ethnicity; political upheaval and change; resistance and rebellion; imperialism, post-imperialism and nationalism; engagement with the social, political, personal and literary issues which have helped to shape the latter half of the 20th century and the early decades of the 21st century.

Section A: Core set texts

Students study at least one of the six core set texts listed below:

Prose
Author Text
Margaret Atwood The Handmaid’s Tale
Graham Swift Waterland
Drama
Author Text
Caryl Churchill Top Girls
Tennessee Williams A Streetcar Named Desire
Poetry
Author Text
Carol Ann Duffy Feminine Gospels (post-2000)
Owen Sheers Skirrid Hill (post-2000)

Section B: Chosen comparative set texts

Students study two texts.These texts can be taken from the following list or from the core set text list. Any text from the core set text list used in the Section A response, however, cannot be used in Section B.

Prose
Author Text
Michael Frayn Spies (post-2000)
Ken Kesey One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Arundhati Roy The God of Small Things
Kathryn Stockett The Help (post-2000)
Alice Walker The Color Purple
Jeanette Winterson Oranges are not the Only Fruit
Richard Yates Revolutionary Road
Drama
Author Text
Brian Friel Translations
Arthur Miller All My Sons
Timberlake Wertenbaker Our Country’s Good
Tennessee Williams Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Poetry
Author Text
Tony Harrison Selected Poems 2013 Edition
Seamus Heaney New Selected Poems 1966–1987
Ted Hughes Birthday Letters
Sylvia Plath Ariel

As with all the requirements around genre/dates in this specification, a text can fulfil more than one category. So, for example, The Help covers the requirement for a prose text and a text written post-2000.

We do not expect to change texts within the first five years of the specification. However, texts will be reviewed each year starting in September 2017 and we will give at least nine months’ notice of any changes prior to first teaching of a two year course. The criteria for changing texts will be where a text becomes unavailable or where we can no longer use it in a question paper. Notice of any change will be communicated via our examination bulletins and aqa.org.uk/english