Centre for Continuing Education

HSC English Advanced Preparation Course - Module B: 'Good Night, and Good Luck'

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This HSC English preparation course focuses on George Clooney’s Good Night, and Good Luck (2005) for Advanced Module B: Critical Study of Literature.

This one-day course begins with an overview of the context of the text’s composition and reception in 2005, and its historical setting in 1950s America during the early days of broadcast journalism, centring on the real-life conflict between CBS television newsman Edward R. Murrow, and Senator Joseph McCarthy and the Permanent Sub-Committee on Investigations (Government Operations Committee). It also outlines the film’s documentary aesthetic and imaginative aspects, its cultural value and meaning.

Close analysis and discussion focuses on Good Night, and Good Luck’s construction, content and language: its function within the ‘docudrama’ genre; its black and white aesthetic; inclusion of archival footage and documented speeches; dual-dialogue, improvised scenes, verisimilitude; and television screens as a metatextual motif.

This critical study of the text evaluates the value of Clooney’s film as: an historical reconstruction of Murrow and Senator McCarthy’s televised public feud; a political critique of the McCarthy anti-Communist ‘witch-hunts’; an historical allegory of present-day threats to free speech; and a defence of the American first-amendment right to freedom of the press. In their personal evaluation, students assess the film’s purpose, veracity, and bias.

Attention returns to the themes of Good Night, and Good Luck: the democratic role of the media; freedom; institutionalised fear; the import of the ‘little story’; and the interplay of private and public lives.

Related critical material including the perspectives of others, sample examination materials and the English Textual Concepts resource provided by NESA will further support individual student responses.


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

  • analyse and discuss Good Night, and Good Luck in relation to context, narrative, structure, themes, aesthetic style, key words and motifs
  • analyse and discuss Good Night, and Good Luck as a contemporary hybrid text (drama, historical fiction, ‘docudrama’, ‘biopic’)
  • analyse and discuss the value of Good Night, and Good Luck as an historical allegory, and ideological and culturally-significant interjection into discourses related to American ideals and/or democratic rights in the post-9/11 digital media age through its: documentary aesthetic, visual anachronisms, self-reflexive elements, and high-profile Hollywood director and cast.


  • Critical study of Good Night, and Good Luck that explores context, genre, style, the medium of film.
  • Critical study of Good Night, and Good Luck in relation to context, style and meaning in order to explore its ambiguous, hybrid form; themes about the impact of fear, human freedom and privacy, and the role and power of media; sub-plots of private lives inflected, obstructed or exposed by political events; social institutions, roles and identities (eg gender, marriage, family) in the period.
  • Group discussion about selected critical comment and NESA examination material to enhance independent students' critical responses as a basis for students' own writing.

Intended audience

HSC English Standard and English Advanced students Studying George Clooney’s Good Night, and Good Luck (2005) for the Advanced Module B: Critical Study of Literature.

Delivery style

A combination of lecture and group discussion with selected scenes, script extracts and selected literary criticism used as a basis for interactive exploration of the texts and informed personal student responses. We will also read and discuss sample HSC examination material provided by NESA.


A course booklet is included. Please bring along a copy of your text to class.


NESA English Advanced Stage 6 Syllabus (2017)
EA 12-1, EA 12-2, EA 12-3. EA 12-4, EA 12-5, EA 12-6, EA 12-7, EA 12-8

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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HSC English Advanced Preparation Course - Module B: 'Good Night, and Good Luck'

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