Centre for Continuing Education

HSC English Advanced Preparation Course - Module A: Keat's 'Selected Poems' and 'Bright Star'

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This new two-day HSC English preparation course focuses on a pairing of selected poems by the second generation Romantic poet, John Keats, and the 2009 film on the life and loves of the poet for the Advanced English Module A: Textual Conversations.

As Keats died tragically young and Campion’s film comprises a Romantic contemplation on the life, poetry and letters of the doomed poet, the complex textual conversation involves his complex literary voice speaking through poetry and a reimagining of the poet and reframing of the poetry’s key concerns with art, mortality, the natural world and the imagination.

Campion draws on Keats' poetry in a cinematic vision that is similarly wrought by the use of Romantic imagery, motifs, and complex metaphors that will generate classroom discussion of the texts as a pair. Discussion will focus on how poetic form and cinematography mirror Romantic ideals yet collide as the film’s details encode a reading of Keats' poetry, and Bright Star in particular, that reflects modern values and closes down interpretation to the extent that traditional critical views on the subject of the sonnet as the brightest star in our literary firmament, William Shakespeare, are foreclosed in the film’s focus on the perhaps more trivial love interest, Fanny Brawne.

Campion’s modern mission to give an historical woman her due in terms of her connection to Keats and her own artistry in the female occupation of dressmaking will be interrogated from the perspective of a historicist Romanticism informed by understanding of the spirit of Keats' times. The poem ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ will be read as a textual conversation in and of itself, and one that does not fit easily with Campion’s idiosyncratic vision of Keats.

We will consider the ways in which Campion’s reimagining is underpinned by values and assumptions held in common with the poet along with those that are disparate, as allusions and intertextual interplay are pressed in service of her goal to restore Fanny Brawne and Keats to the centre of our conception of the poetry in its time. As part of their examination of this textual conversation, we will interrogate the central issue of representation of the now celebrated Keats and the historically neglected young woman belatedly connected in the public mind with the heart and imagination of this forever young, Romantic poet.


By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • make informed judgements about the ways in which the personal and historical contexts of the composers inform the intentional intertextuality of the film with the poems set for study and so shape meaning for readers in our time
  • analyse and discuss the Romantic aesthetic of the prescribed poems and the film as a pair in terms of literary perspectives on love, loss, the individual, the natural world and the imagination through consideration of poetic form and devices and the parallel use of visual poetry in the film, particularly its deployment of Keatsian imagery and symbolism
  • recognise that the exploration of key concerns in the poetry and film enable informed judgements on the ways in which these texts illuminate, as well as eclipse, each other in particular ways.


  • Review of language forms and features and the use of appropriate language and terminology of critical expression in refining arguments and interpreting the poems paired for study with the film.
  • Analysis and evaluation of the effectiveness of language patterns in poetry, particularly figurative choices along with cinematic strategies that follow these same patterns in a visual medium.
  • Explanation of the ways specific language concepts, for example imagery, symbolism or sound, shape meaning for different audiences and purposes.
  • Discussion of whether comparative analysis leads to a deeper understanding of the original text and context or if, instead, the poetry is diminished by Campion’s selective reading of Keats.

Intended audience

HSC English Advanced students studying a selection of Keats' poems and Jane Campion’s film Bright Star (2009) for the Advanced English Module A: Textual Conversations.

Delivery style

The facilitator will analyse the poems and key film scenes in a blended learning environment that integrates online activities and resources with supplementary materials on Romanticism, in a concise course booklet.

Group discussion of the poetry and film, as a textual conversation, will be facilitated by the tutor in order to encourage personal and informed readings in the context of the module.

Writing activities will generate fresh ideas regarding how a composer may be influenced by another text’s concepts and values. Focus questions derived from the rubric will encourage you to to explore the relationship between these texts and their contexts, particularly in terms of the construction of the ideal woman and femme fatale in literature juxtaposed with the film playing a part in the recent feminist recovery of real but forgotten woman artists, from a past traditionally written with a focus on male writers and their circles.


You will be provided with a course booklet (electronic copy).

Bring your own device

You are required to bring your own device (Windows or Mac) and a power chord. Please ensure your device is fully charged as access to power is limited.

Please note that University does not carry any responsibility for your lost, stolen, or damaged devices whilst on the University premises.


NESA English Advanced Stage 6 Syllabus (2017)
EA 12-3, EA 12-4, EA 12-6

Getting Through Your HSC: A Practical Guide

While you progress through this journey and also the conclusion of your schooling life, we know you’ll have a lot on your mind – exams, future study, careers – but remember, while keeping focused on these bigger goals and aspirations, it’s also important not to forget your own health and well-being.

For tips on staying motivated and keeping focused, dealing with anxiety, keeping healthy, relaxation, pre-study exercise and more, read our article Getting Through Your HSC: A Practical Guide.


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