Central Concepts

Students in DP Language and Literature will explore literary and non-literary texts through three areas of exploration. These explorations are meant to overlap and be integrated into units through global issues and central concepts through both non-literary and literary texts.

Seven Central Concepts

Students will explore these seven central concepts through non-literary and literary texts throughout the two year course of DP Language and Literature.


Identity

Issues with identity could be related to a number of factors:

  • Set of characteristics that make that person unique or distinctive

  • How the character views himself/herself (their self-conception)

  • How the character views his/her world (romanticized, realistic, cynical)

  • How the character views his role in society (conforming or not conforming)

  • How the character is presented to others (social presentation)

  • How the character is conditioned to act in society (influence of the environment)

  • How the character tries to challenge or reinforce those conditions he has embraced

  • How the character accepts or rejects ancestral heritage or an individual’s reputation

  • How the character is influenced by his/her gender, culture, sexuality, environment, parents, etc.


    • Types of Questions Relating to Identity

      • How does the musical artist address issues related to identity such as race, religion, and gender?

      • How does the musical artist capture the struggles related to identity such as accepting one's self and accepting others?

      • How does the writer show the challenges of trying to assimilate and appreciate two contrasting cultures as part of his or her identity?

      • How does the character mature and become less egocentric and more selfless for the greater good of society?

      • How does the main character mature in his isolation and alienation into one of self acceptance of himself and others?

      • How does the author's identity influence the characters, conflicts, and themes in the literary text? What universal insights are explored in the literary text?

      • How does the artist's identity and struggles influence his lyrics in his music? What universal insights are explored in the lyrics and how does the artist use language to shape meaning?

      • How does the main character find strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles?

      • How does the main character's view of life transform through the conflict he/she endures?

      • How is the main character's identity shaped by aspects of family, class, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender and/or sexuality?

      • To what extent does an author’s identity or a reader’s identity influence the way a text is interpreted?

      • To what extent does an author show a character’s struggle with his or her identity?

      • How are we affected by texts in various ways?

      • How does the writer explore issues related to identity in his/her music such as XXX, XXX, and XXX?

      • What factors lead to a character's development of identity? How are a character's beliefs and attitudes shaped by their environment? What deliberate choices does the reader see the author making in portraying a character's identity?

      • In what ways is meaning constructed, negotiated, expressed, and interpreted?

      • To what extent does identity change and/or remain fixed in the course of a human life?

      • How do characters develop their own internal reality in defense to the conflicts of their external reality? How does one's internal thoughts guide their reality in their experiences?

      • In what ways do writing and reading construct and potentially transform social identity?

      • How does an author portray a dynamic character who undergoes internal and external conflicts to achieve growth? How do minor characters contribute to his growth?

      • How does an author reinforce character traits in the main character by juxtaposing character foils?

    • Identity

      • Keywords: agency of the reader, voice, character, narrator, reader, author, perspectives, writer’s identity, reader’s identity, negotiating, expression, interpretation, effect

      • “When reading texts, students will encounter and interact with a multiplicity of perspectives, voices and characters. It is usual when reading and interpreting a text to assume that the views are to some extent representative of the writer’s identity. However, the relationship between an author and the different perspectives and voices they assume in the texts is frequently complex, and this makes the concept of identity an elusive one. The figure that emerges from the reading of various texts by the same author adds to the complexity of the discussion. Conversely, the ways in which the identity of a reader comes into play at the moment of reading a text are equally central to the analysis of the act of reading and interpretation.”

Culture

    • Types of Questions Relating to Culture

      • To what extent do values, beliefs, and attitudes of a time period influence a text’s meaning? How does the historical context of a work influence the way a reader interprets the text?

      • To what extent do texts offer insights into another culture?

      • How does the meaning and impact of a text change over time?

      • How important is cultural or historical context to the production and reception of a text?

      • How do we approach texts from different time periods and cultures to our own?

      • How do writers communicate a particular perspective and cultural value, attitude or belief to an audience?

      • What happens when writers communicate different or opposing perspectives and cultural attitudes? How can texts challenge cultural norms or stereotypes?

      • In what ways is meaning constructed, negotiated, expressed, and interpreted? How does a reader's beliefs and attitudes influence the interpretation of a text?

      • How are social values established and conveyed over time?

      • How can the cultural philosophy of a community shape personal morals and one’s interpretation of reality?

      • To what extent do different cultures exist? To what extent do different cultures share values and beliefs?

      • How has the author portrayed a group of people with a shared culture? What values do they share?

      • How has the author shown the importance of a cultural legacy and how it shapes people's behaviors?



    • Culture

      • Keywords: values, beliefs, stereotype, attitudes, power, place, time.

      • “The concept of culture is central to the study of language and literature. It raises the question of how a text relates to the context of its production and reception, and to the respective values, beliefs and attitudes prevalent in them. This concept also plays an important role with regards to the relationship that is established between an individual text and the writing tradition that precedes it. In both senses, the application of this concept to the study of a text should prompt reflection on the extent to which it is the product of a particular cultural and literary context and how it interacts with it.”

Creativity

    • Types of Questions Relating to Creativity

      • To what extent does an author’s style (literary techniques) influence the way a reader interprets the work?

      • What possibilities or potential scenarios has the author created with his/her imagination?

      • How has the author contributed to a different perspective through his/her creativity?

      • How has the author used imagination to offer perceptive insights about humanity?

      • How does language use vary amongst text types and amongst literary forms? How does an author adhere or deviate from conventional aspects of a text type and to what effect?

      • How has the author used imagination to offer perceptive insights about humanity?

      • How does the poet use imagination to offer insights about people? How does the use of comparisons deepen the reader's understanding of others?

      • What deliberate choices does the author make in order to craft a unique form of storytelling? What universal insights are explored through the author's craft?

    • Creativity

      • Keywords:imagination, assembly, engagement, originality, pastiche, collage.

      • “Creativity plays an important part in the experience of reading and writing. The concept is fundamental to analyse and understand the act of writing, and the role that imagination plays. When applied to the act of reading, creativity highlights the importance of the reader being able to engage in an imaginative interaction with a text which generates a range of potential meanings from it, above and beyond established interpretations. Creativity is also related to the notion of originality and to the question of the extent to which it is important or desirable in the production and reception of a text.”

Communication

    • Types of Questions Relating to Communication

      • To what extent does an intended audience influence the way meaning is constructed and interpreted?

      • How does the author's style influence the way meaning is deconstructed and inferred?

      • How does the way the writer tells a story impact the way one understands the characters, themes, and conflicts? What techniques are used to develop the plot? (foreshadowing, point of view, direct or indirect characterization, symbolism, irony, setting, humor, etc.)

      • What is the relationship that is established between a writer/orator and a reader/listener and how does that affect meaning?

      • How do time and space influence the way meaning is constructed and interpreted? How do beliefs, values, and/or politics shape a speaker's message to an intended audience?

      • What emotional, logical, and ethical appeals does a speaker draw upon in order to communicate a persuasive message to his/her audience?

      • How does the creator evoke emotion in the communication of an idea?

      • In what ways do advertisers communicate various representations of women and why?

      • How does the author or creator purposefully develop tensions or conflicts to communicate idealogical views?

      • To what extent has the author shown bias in his work and what specific ways such as omission, manipulation of facts or statistics, selection of word choice and tone as well as camera angles?

      • How do colloquial expressions or hashtag phrases support or distort the meaning being conveyed?

      • How do writers communicate and use creativity to represent the world in a variety of ways?

    • Communication

      • Keywords:cooperation, transfer, reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing, performing.

      • “The concept of communication revolves around the question of the relationship that is established between a writer and a reader by means of a text. The extent to which writers facilitate communication through their choices of style and structure may be an aspect to analyse in this exploration. The writer may also have a particular audience in mind which may mean assumptions have been made about the reader’s knowledge or views which might make communication with some readers easier than with others. Alternatively, the amount of cooperation that a text demands from a reader for communication to take place, and the readiness of the reader to engage is also important as a topic for discussion. Even with cooperative readers, the meaning of a text is never univocal, which makes the concept of communication a particularly productive, and potentially problematic one in relation to both literary and non-literary texts.”


Perspective

    • Types of Questions Relating to Perspective

      • How can texts offer multiple perspectives of a single issue, topic or theme?

      • How does the artist represent multiple perspectives on ________ (name a specific event) through his/her craft?

      • To what extent do time and place influence the way a reader understands a text’s meaning?

      • How does the perspective of the reader play a role in understanding a text?

      • How does the author's style and perspective influence the way a reader deconstructs a text?

      • How do writers represent nature and the natural world and what do their perspectives offer us?

      • To what extent does the meaning of a literary work depend on the preconceptions of its reader?

      • How does the reader's perspective (or political beliefs) influence the reading of the author's representation of an idea, event, moment or concept?


    • Perspective

      • Keywords:idea, point-of-view, interpretations, suppositions, bias.

      • “A text may offer a multiplicity of perspectives which may, or may not, reflect the views of its author. Readers have also their own perspectives which they bring to their interaction with the text. This variety of perspectives impacts on the interpretation of a text and therefore deserves critical attention and discussion. The fact that the acts of reading and writing happen in a given time and place poses the additional question of how far the contexts of production and reception have influenced and even shaped those perspectives.”

Transformation

    • Types of Questions Relating to Transformation

      • How can a writer transform an existing text in order to build on the original meaning? (pastiche)

      • How can a writer transform an existing text in order to poke fun at some aspect in society? (parody)

      • How can a writer imitate an author's style in a respectful way to create new meaning? (pastiche/fan fiction)

      • To what extent does one text influence another in order to create meaning? How does intertextuality play a role in creating meaning?

      • How do texts adhere to & deviate from conventions associated with literary forms or text types?

      • How do conventions and systems of reference evolve over time?

      • In what ways can diverse texts share points of similarity?

      • How valid is the notion of a classic text?

      • How can texts offer multiple perspectives of a single issue, topic, or theme?

      • In what ways can comparison and interpretation be transformative?

    • Transformation

      • Keywords:connections, change, borrowing, building, performance, compare/contrast, similarities/differences, intertextuality

      • “The study of the connections among texts constitutes the focus of one of three areas of exploration, namely intertextuality: connecting texts. The complex ways in which texts refer to one another, appropriate elements from each other and transform them to suit a different aesthetic or communicative purpose, are evidence of the importance of transformation in the process of creating a text. Additionally, the act of reading is potentially transformative in itself, both for the text and the reader. Different readers may transform a text with their personal interpretation. The text can also have an impact on the reader which potentially might lead to action and to the transformation of reality.”

Representation

    • Types of Questions Relating to Representation

      • To what extent does literature reflect or distort or exaggerate reality in the texts?

      • How do texts reflect, represent, or form a part of cultural practices?

      • How does language represent social distinctions and identities?

      • How is a specific group (poor, elite, women, men, immigrants, minorities, etc. )represented in the text?

      • How does the communication in the media about ________ (topic) transform our understanding of reality?

      • How does the author communicate particular representations of certain countries or social groups?

      • How does an author exaggerate or satirize an issue to provide social commentary on an issue?

      • How is the story allegorical to society by representing greater truths?

      • How does the author use language and style to represent the world with a biased perspective?

      • How does the narrative of the coming of age story really resonate with the audience in its representation of reality?

  • Representation

    • Keywords:reflection, refraction, accuracy, detachment, representation, portrayal, realism, distortion, exaggeration, understating, irony, bias

    • “The way in which language and literature relate to reality has been the subject of long running debate among linguists and literary theorists. Statements and manifestos by writers have made claims about this relationship which range from affirming that literature should represent reality as accurately as possible, to claiming art’s absolute detachment and freedom from reality and any duty to represent it in the work of art. Irrespective of such a discussion, the concept is a central one to the subject in connection with the way in which form and structure interact with, and relate to, meaning.”