Prescribed Material, English 2017 – What’s New

May 26, 2017

Prescribed Material, English 2017 – What’s New?

For the single text, the staple that is Shakespeare’s Macbeth returns and is likely to be studied by most students, particularly at higher level.

However, newer texts – Chimanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, Margaret Atwood’s TheHandmaid’s Tale, and Marina Carr’s By the Bog of Cats – offer more contemporary options.

As always, higher level students must study one of the above in isolation, but they can also study their other single text options as comparative texts alongside a selection of two others.

Their list of further options includes Irish author Emma Donohue’s Room (now an Oscar-winning film), Donal Ryan’s Man Booker-nominated The Spinning Heart, and Claire Keegan’s Foster, while Brooklyn, directed by John Crowley, is just one film choice students have.

In poetry, recurring poets, Bishop, Heaney, Hopkins, Lawrence, Plath, and Yeats, recur (!), while two contemporary Irish poets, Brendan Kennelly and Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, continue to establish themselves as part of the leaving cert poetry syllabus.

Overall, this prescribed material is another stage of what is considered to be a major, decade-long overhaul of Leaving Cert English, the subject’s increasing variation and diversity the result of a NCCA-convened group that meets annually to discuss and recommend suitable material.

But, before you get ahead of yourself and go choosing all of the texts you’d like to read, remember that students must study one novel or play in detail, and three other texts – from a list of fiction, film and drama – for the comparative module.

Higher-level students are required to study one Shakespearean drama in addition to 48 poems by eight different poets. At ordinary level, students are expected to study 36 poems.

Choose wisely.

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