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10Q1 Thematic Study Homework

The Task

A key skill that is needed to produce high level work in GCSE is the ability to connect thematic concepts between seemingly disparate texts.

As part of developing these skills, you will choose a theme you wish to investigate through 5 types of text.

Literature - 1 text with a critical reputation.

Music - A selection of 3 songs.

Poetry - A selection of 3 poems.

Film - 1 film

Art - 2 Piece of art work.

You will complete a weekly journal which notes what you have studied and your findings.

The between the 14th and the 21st October you will be presenting your findings as part of your GCSE / IGCSE Speaking and Listening assessment.

Theme - Click the link for the official definition

But for our purposes a theme is: A topic or issue discussed within a text.

You have choice over your theme but there are a list of themes below. Remember some themes (such as love) can be quite broad so try to narrow your focus down to a specific element such as 'Influence of Love' or 'Absence of Love' etc.

Here are a list of themes you may wish to look at:

The Paradox of Life


Inner Conflict


Corrupting Influence of Power

Love and its influence.

Dystopian Futures

The Role of Women



The Journal

The Journal must be kept and handed in on a weekly basis and can be submitted in the following forms:

1) As a printed document - not scrappy pieces of paper (this will not be accepted).

2) As a link to a blog (Please seek prior approval) tweeted to @MilEnglish or emailed from your school account (not personal account) to chris.milne@mca.attrust.org.uk - wordpress and blogger.com are very simple formats to use.

3) A comment on under this posting

The journal should consider the following questions (which can be used as headings):

1) How was your chosen theme presented?

(positively, negatively, in-depth, ironically, some aspects covered but not others)

2) What was similar or different to the presentation in your other texts?

3) How do the characters / artists react to the theme or events?

The presentation will be filmed as part of your on going English assessment and must be longer 4 to 5 minutes long or you may lose marks.

The presentation does not have to cover all your texts only the most interesting parts you found.

The presentation addresses the questions above making clear links to the similarities and differences of your texts.

You may use a cue card the size of a postcard and any props you wish to bring (artwork, music, books etc).


The choice of texts are entirely up to you.

Your choice of Literature must be approved by me and must have a critical reputation.

Critical Reputation - The text or author is award winning or nominated.
                                  The author makes up part of the Literary Canon.
                                  The text has been reviewed by another established writer.

Here is a suggested reading list but this is not exhaustive:

Life of Pi
Catch 22
Slaughterhouse 5
Animal Farm
Skepticism Inc
Catcher in the Rye
Romeo and Juliet
Richard III
A Brave New World
The Taming of the Shrew
To Kill a Mockingbird
A Woman of No Importance
Enduring Love
The Big Sleep
The Great Gatsby
Brighton Rock
Romeo and Juliet

You can see the work that some other students have completed in a school in London here

You have a lot of freedom in your study - use this to look at things you are interested in and you will find it a lot more fun.

Good Luck

Mr Milne 
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13 September 2013 at 18:40

Courtney Stares 10Q1
film - US Marshalls
book - the green mile
not sure for the other subjects

14 September 2013 at 21:28

Hi Sir.
My theme is going to be insecurity.
For my book I was thinking of 'The perks of being a wallflower'. What do you think?

The two pieces of art that I found and researched relating to Insecurity are:
1) Christina's World, by Andrew Wyeth:


I chose this painting because of the look of vulnerability of the girl in the middle of the field, which made me think of the feeling of being insecure and uncomfortable within yourself, making you feel lost and exposed. So it relates to my theme well when analysed.

However, once I researched this painting I found out that the girl in the painting was a real person who lived in the 1800s and was called Christina Olson. She was known for having polio - a disease which affects the brain and spinal chord cells, paralysing the lower half of the body- and was crawling across this field when Wyeth found his inspiration.

I love this painting because there are many interpretations to be had and my first impression and idea of the painting wasn't what the artist's inspiration was. Now I've read into the background of the painting and have looked into the name of it, my current view of the piece is that the image is portraying how perspective changes depending on different peoples' viewpoints. I've taken that to be both a physical, visible viewpoint and a physiological one too. My physical viewpoint of the painting is a girl simply lying down, looking vulnerable and desiring for what was in the distance, as would anyone else’s viewpoint be, looking from the outside and not being aware of her situation.

I had assumed that there was a feeling of insecurity and the actual case was very different. She was determined to try and get across the field and felt confident enough to do so.

What makes the change in perspective is gained knowledge on the subject and that presents comfort and peace of mind within an individual. All of the by products of changing perspective and being able to see something from more than one angle leads to more self-confidents and less insecurities.

My overall impression is that Andrew Wyeth is displaying a second view to a common scene of the countryside by making the audience feel sympathetic towards Christina, understand how vulnerable she may feel with her condition and respect her. This feeling emphasises the ability to apprehend another’s’ life and be more open minded, which in turn removes insecurity.

and 2) Insecurity, by Jerry Kirk:


I chose this picture because of its name being insecurity, the colours and the position and what the overall painting conveys. Even if I didn’t know the name of the painting I would interpret this piece to be about insecurity based on the body language, the colours and the fact that he is naked.

The self contained and protective body language conveys that the man is afraid of being exposed. Whereas the nakedness displays that he is metaphorically mentally bare as well as visibly. He is obviously distressed and uncomfortable with that. The main colours included are blue, oranges and red. Blue could convey the emotion of sadness, feeling cold and is seen as a non-threatening colour, whereas red can be seen as threatening and when mixed with blue could also present a confused contrast of emotions and security. Red and orange are also warmer and more passionate colours compared to the colder blue.

I chose this picture because it seems a lot more obvious as to what is being presented in ‘Christina’s World’ and feels easier to interpret. However, this allows it to present a stronger message of what my theme means to me and enables me to understand the characteristics of the effect and signs of insecurity as I experience them.


P.S - What percentage of our speaking and listening GCSE will our final presentation on this be?

15 September 2013 at 10:06

Courtney - You might want to look at the art of Mark Rothko, Tracey Emin or Cindy Sherman - you may find some links there but am not sure.

For poetry, you could look at Sylvia Plath.

There should be a wide range of music that links to your theme

15 September 2013 at 10:13

Harriet -

Two very contrasting images here - can you see any similarities between the two?

In terms of taking both paintings at their aesthetic value (without your excellent research) what do you think they say about how insecurities can affect a person?

The Perks of Being A Wallflower would definitely tie in with this theme.

The Speaking and Listening will be double marked to tie in with two of the possible qualifications.

GCSE Speaking and Listening - you have to carry out three pieces of work for your full qualification and this will be assessed for two - 1 being Individual Presentation and another being a discussion you will have with the examiner regarding your presentation.

It will also be marked against IGCSE criteria which is worth 20% of the whole qualification.

Well done!

Mr Milne

16 September 2013 at 16:30

Ok, thank you very much.

The similarities between the two images are things like isolation, possible fear, pain, sadness, vulnerability, weakness and anxiety. These feelings and features are shown throughout the gloominess and body position of the girl in 'Christina's world' and the body and facial expression of the man in 'Insecurity'. They're both alone which presents isolation, vulnerability and weakness. The fear is portrayed by the protective embrace of the man in 'Insecurity', as if he is afraid of something that no one else can see but himself. Where as fear is shown within 'Christina's world' by the understanding of who she is and knowing that she has polio. You could also say that without the awareness of the inspiration of the painting that there is fear inside her with how she leans forward but doesn't look like she's moving or travelling anywhere.The distance between her and the house and her seeming helplessness makes the viewer feel her task of reaching it. I also feel her desire but she doesn't seem strong enough or she's too afraid to move any closer.

The paintings present to me how insecurity can affect someone by the body language. The ideas and imagination of what has possibly caused them to look like that creates a measured view of how an insecurity can affect a person depending on individual situations.

I really love these paintings because of both the contrasts and similarities. To me, not only does 'Christina's world' represent helplessness, fear and insecurity but a determination to cross the field and I feel it symbolises determination in crossing challenges in life. Especially when knowing she's paralysed it makes me feel like there should never be an excuse when not completing a task, yet empathetic towards her desperate situation.

With 'Insecurity' for me it symbolises how so many people feel inside at different points in their lives but never actually share or express those insecurities. With this painting it feels clear with how the person is feeling. To me, it exemplifies the pure, inner emotions of a normal human; someone who isn't hiding who they really are and what they truly feel, which is an extremely hard thing for a person to do. It also makes me feel the insecurity that comes for an individual who feels all hope is lost. They have no answers or believe they can be helped.


16 September 2013 at 19:22

That's an excellent response. Well done - I look forward to seeing the connections you make across all your media.

Mr Milne

19 September 2013 at 20:02

how exactly are you meant to identify a theme through-out a piece of artwork? -Courtney

19 September 2013 at 22:11

Have a look at Harriet's analysis of the pictures above.

Look at the colours / atmosphere / positions of the subject of the pictures. What does it suggest that the artist thinks of the subject? What are they trying to explore with their painting?

10 October 2013 at 19:53

English Project Homework #5
I have chosen the:
- Book – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
- Film – Hairspray
- 1st Song – Through the Barricades by Spandau Ballet
- 1st Poem – Daddy by Sylvia Plath
- 2nd Poems – On a Portrait of a Deaf Man
I have chosen my 2nd and 3rd songs as well. The 2nd is ‘That’s Just the Way it is by Bruce Hornsby’ which is about people not being accepted because they’re different from the normal people and this includes race, religion and even if someone has a disability. The 3rd song I have chosen is ‘Ill Manners by Plan B’. This is about the separation from the posh and wealthy people and the so-called ‘hooligans’ that live in council estates and wear hoodies.
I have chosen a 3rd poem too, it is called ‘A Lost Promise’ and it is by Jacqueline Uvalle. It is about a girl whose father abandoned her at a young age and how she had to grow up without a dad. The poem ‘Daddy’ is very different because in Daddy, the writer was happy that her father was gone, however in A Lost Promise, the writer is upset that her father left her. On the other hand, they are both similar because they both mention that they are stronger and wiser now.
So this now means I have my:
- Book
- Film
- 1st, 2nd and 3rd Song
- 1st, 2nd and 3rd Poem
And I am well under way of completing the task!!
NOTE TO SIR: Is it okay if I tweet you the 2 art pieces sometime next week? This is only because my printer doesn’t work so I will not be able to print them out. Thanks.

Kayley-May Williams 10Q1

12 October 2013 at 10:53

Great choices Kayley-May. Well done. Through your research, why do you think that segregation happens in society?

You are welcome to tweet your art work to me.

Mr Milne

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