About The A* Way Series
The impetus to write The A* Way Series of study guides came about because I saw a real need for mid- to high-achieving students of AS and A-Level Literature to have access to challenging supplementary material that would show them how to go about sophisticating their close reading and analytical skills, something which I knew could help them raise their overall level of proficiency in literary studies. Such an improvement I felt would provide the much-needed boost to help them break through to a higher level of achievement as, for example, from a B to an A and/or from an A to an A*. Although my own focus was initially on students of AS and A-Level Literature, it rapidly became clear to me that all advanced students of literary studies could benefit from going through the process demonstrated in The A* Ways Series of study guides.
Because I am trying to help students who are actively searching for ways to improve their analytical skills and deepen their critical thinking, the material in these study guides is, of necessity, pitched fairly high and demands a high degree of commitment from its readers. Those readers who participate actively in the unfolding analytical process will not only reach a deeper understanding of the text under discussion but, even more importantly, will learn a method and an approach which they can emulate when they work with other literary texts. Interrogating the material, unpacking complex images and figures of speech to see how they work in context, examining syntax and structure, rhythm and metre, and so on, will become second nature.
It must be said, however, that these study guides are not really suitable for passive learners because to benefit from what they have to offer means that students must be committed enough to engage fully with the material and participate actively in the process of the unfolding analysis. Success depends on interaction with the concrete details of the text, on meticulous attention to detail, on having an open mind that is not daunted by multiplicity of meaning, ambiguity or ambivalence, a mind that is comfortable with the fact that a literary text is always so much more than a sum of its parts.
Further, my intention with these study guides is to take students through a close reading and detailed analysis of a text in such a way that it approximates, as far as possible, the experience of actually going through the analytical process in a tutorial where the teacher initiates and guides the discussion and students participate actively in the process, freely sharing ideas and offering suggestions. Not only will working through the study guide ensure that students get to know the particular text under discussion thoroughly, but it will also mean that they have participated in the actual process of analysis, that they have ‘worked’ the method and are thus in a strong position to begin emulating it with their other texts.
Incidentally, the study guide, Analysing a Literary Text the A* Way, was written to provide additional information and instruction on this method and includes sections specifically devoted to poetry, plays and prose fiction, each of which has its own genre-specific features and conventions.
Finally, as an added incentive, this is without question the method that reaps the greatest rewards for the student of literature, not only in the increase in essay and examination scores, but even more importantly, in the massive increase in one’s enjoyment of one’s texts and the process of critical analysis.
Go to our FREE STUFF page for a good Glossary of Literary Terms as well as other useful resources.
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