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HELP for English literature NEA AQA

Hi, I am currently in year 12, just finished for the summer holidays (going into year 13 in September). Over the summer, I have to plan and start writing my English Literature NEA.

I haven’t got a question yet but the books i am studying are: ‘The Woman in White’ by Wilkie Collins and ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. My theme is mental instantly, looking at the representation of females (females being a victim in a Patriarchal society and males dominance), how isolation increases madness and the lack of identity for female protagonists. Do you think this a good direction for my NEA? Does anybody have an ideas on a question relating to these themes?

I have no idea on how to start researching and planning. For each of my sub-themes, do I need like 3 quotes supporting my argument from each novel and 2 critics for each paragraph? How do I structure the essay? How do I plan the essay as i need a detailed plan before I can start writing the essay? I have no idea on how to even start researching and comparing texts?

If anybody has any tips that would be greatly appreciated
Thank you so much!
There are some exemplars (for Spec A) here https://www.aqa.org.uk/resources/english/as-and-a-level/english-literature-a/teach/nea-resource-package

Have you tried reading the examine reports for previous years? Spec A is here https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/english/as-and-a-level/english-literature-a-7711-7712/assessment-resources?f.Component%7C7=Component+3+NEA - it might provide some useful pointers on what not to do!
Reply 2
I had a real struggle with starting my English lit NEA too (just finished a-levels this year). A good way to structure your essay is by including a counterargument, and debating this throughout your sub-themes. To do this, make your sub-themes as objective as possible (my essay was also on women and my sub-topics were, women taking on a masculine performance, motherhood and the feminine ideal) so that you can explore the purpose of these themes within both texts in the body of the essay.
For your theme, 'mental insanity, how isolation increases madness and the lack of identity for female protagonists', I would recommend making your over-arching theme either madness or isolation (this would make planning easier, but also only a suggestion!) and then include the other as a sub-theme. For example, if your main theme is isolation, madness and identity could be two subtopics plus one or two more. You could then debate the inclusion of these in both texts (why do the authors make women mad in isolation, is it to emphasise the passivity of women over their own minds, perpetuating Gothic standards, or concentrate on the external forces which affect women) (is lack of identity derived from isolation or does isolation simply reveal a true nature, is a lack of identity within a female character purposeful or simply a representation of the time?). these may not apply to your texts but you get the idea.
In terms of research, use as many of the resources that your school has given you, because finding your own critics is a pain. If you are doing completely independent research, its just a lot of google searches, JSTOR (if your school has a login) and Google Scholar are good.
Structure and plan based on your spec points, how much language and structure analysis do you need to include (if any), how much of your essay is going to be comparing different events and characters of each text, how often do you need to refer to a genre (Gothic) if at all?
Hope this helps :smile:
Hi, sorry I haven the replied back, been on holiday! Thank you so much, your advice was amazing!

Original post by Ickabee
I had a real struggle with starting my English lit NEA too (just finished a-levels this year). A good way to structure your essay is by including a counterargument, and debating this throughout your sub-themes. To do this, make your sub-themes as objective as possible (my essay was also on women and my sub-topics were, women taking on a masculine performance, motherhood and the feminine ideal) so that you can explore the purpose of these themes within both texts in the body of the essay.
For your theme, 'mental insanity, how isolation increases madness and the lack of identity for female protagonists', I would recommend making your over-arching theme either madness or isolation (this would make planning easier, but also only a suggestion!) and then include the other as a sub-theme. For example, if your main theme is isolation, madness and identity could be two subtopics plus one or two more. You could then debate the inclusion of these in both texts (why do the authors make women mad in isolation, is it to emphasise the passivity of women over their own minds, perpetuating Gothic standards, or concentrate on the external forces which affect women) (is lack of identity derived from isolation or does isolation simply reveal a true nature, is a lack of identity within a female character purposeful or simply a representation of the time?). these may not apply to your texts but you get the idea.
In terms of research, use as many of the resources that your school has given you, because finding your own critics is a pain. If you are doing completely independent research, its just a lot of google searches, JSTOR (if your school has a login) and Google Scholar are good.
Structure and plan based on your spec points, how much language and structure analysis do you need to include (if any), how much of your essay is going to be comparing different events and characters of each text, how often do you need to refer to a genre (Gothic) if at all?
Hope this helps :smile:
Original post by Isabel Hollands
Hi, I am currently in year 12, just finished for the summer holidays (going into year 13 in September). Over the summer, I have to plan and start writing my English Literature NEA.

I haven’t got a question yet but the books i am studying are: ‘The Woman in White’ by Wilkie Collins and ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. My theme is mental instantly, looking at the representation of females (females being a victim in a Patriarchal society and males dominance), how isolation increases madness and the lack of identity for female protagonists. Do you think this a good direction for my NEA? Does anybody have an ideas on a question relating to these themes?

I have no idea on how to start researching and planning. For each of my sub-themes, do I need like 3 quotes supporting my argument from each novel and 2 critics for each paragraph? How do I structure the essay? How do I plan the essay as i need a detailed plan before I can start writing the essay? I have no idea on how to even start researching and comparing texts?

If anybody has any tips that would be greatly appreciated
Thank you so much!

!!!! I literally did my EPQ on how attitudes towards female mental illness in literature have changed over time (did Jane Eyre for EPQ, but also did Woman in White for my coursework!). Highly recommend The Female Malady by Elaine Showalter for context of how the perception of mental illness has changed.

I did AQA so can’t comment on structure really as it sounds like you are doing a different exam board.
(edited 1 year ago)

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