VCE English and EAL, English Language, and Literature guide - units 3 & 4

Guide to research and literary criticism of current texts used in VCE English and English as an Additional Language (EAL), English Language, and Literature

VCAA Outline: Writing about country

Writing about country is an invitation to explore ideas of place and belonging. The texts exemplify this and have their own thematic focuses. The resources listed here can be used as starting points for your own explorations, and offer links to similar works, information on topical issues, and collections that might inspire.

Key texts

How to respond

Responding to a text might involve:

"Explorations of physical land and country, local and international, loss of country and dispossession, remembering country and nostalgia, migration, the power of connections with land, climate change and the changing landscape, and imagined countries. Students could engage with experiences like farming and land management, and with cultural expressions like country music. Others could explore traditional understandings of Country through Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and perspectives."

Visit the VCE English and English as an Additional Language Study Design for more guidance.

For Teachers: On teaching Blak literature

In March 2022, Blak & Bright First Nations Literary Festival hosted its first-ever Education Day in partnership with State Library Victoria. Following a day-long event for secondary students, a teacher PD session was held in the State Library Victoria Theatrette to discuss, explore, listen and learn about ‘how to teach Blak literature’. Watch the discussion between authors Bruce Pascoe and Thomas Mayor, educators Edie Wright, Lynette George and Carmel Byrne in the video below. 

Gooseberries by Anton Chekhov

Key text: ‘Gooseberries’ by Anton Chekhov, from The Project Gutenberg eBook copy of The Wife and Other Stories (updated 10 September 2016)

Themes: happiness and fulfilment; social mores and class interactions prior to the turn of the 20th century; critique of the nobility and land ownership

Task: In the story, students will find ample opportunity to identify hallmarks of the modern short story form and may be encouraged to adopt elements of Chekhov’s style, such as the employment of pathetic fallacy, imagery and sensory description. With the story posing more questions than it does answers, students may be intrigued to experiment with engendering depth and complexity in their own writing through the use of extended metaphor or embedded narrative. Refer to pp.17-18 of the VCE English and English as an Additional Language (EAL) Text List 2024.


Some analysis on Gooseberries



Chapter 2 of The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Clarke (A)

Key text: Chapter 2 of The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Clarke

Themes: the experience of the ‘other’ in contemporary Australia; language - as a weapon and inheritance (see the author's "slam poetry roots, the patois of her forebears and refrains and elements of Batuque"); belonging and inclusion; racism, prejudice and exclusion; migration and settlement (especially through the lens of the author's West Indian British heritage)

Task: Students will recognise the universality of the experience of encountering something new and overwhelming and may be inspired by Clarke’s writing to explore stories of their own forebears, or personal experiences of encountering an unfamiliar landscape or culture. Refer to p.18 of the VCE English and English as an Additional Language (EAL) Text List 2024.

Language play

Other stories of migration

The Conquest of Land and Dream by Yumna Kassab (A)

Key text: 'The Conquest of Land and Dream' by Yumna Kassab from Meanjin (Spring 2021)

Themes: The piece deals with the attempts of migrants to exploit, control and understand new lands, and in the case of Australia, the impacts on First Nations Peoples, moving from the arrival of the British to more modern migration involving asylum seekers. Themes include colonisation and dispossession; the interaction between place and identity; possession and sovereignty; naming and words; farming and mining.

Task: Students could experiment with the use of second-person narration and reflect on their family’s stories of migration, dispossession or connection to place, as well as their own relationship with and understanding of Australian history. Refer to pp.18-19 of the VCE English and English as an Additional Language (EAL) Text List 2024.

From the archives

Discover archival material relating to colonisation and decolonisation, migration, and the impact of these upheavals. The following databases share these stories through a diverse mix of photographs, videos, manuscript records, and more, including firsthand accounts.

Other works by Yumna Kassab

  • Australiana (2022) - Available to view at the Library online and in print

Split by Cassie Lynch (A)

Key text: 'Split' by Cassie Lynch in Flock: First Nations Stories Then and Now (2021) by E. van Neerven)

Themes and ideas: post-colonial treatment of the land; the divide between traditional indigenous connection to Country and the modern explored through language and imagery, especially the old and new Swan River. Refer to p.19 of the VCE English and English as an Additional Language (EAL) Text List 2024.

Explore other stories about Country


Access to a vast record of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers and their publications through the BlackWords database:


Background research

Learn more about the context in which these stories take place using the online resources listed below:  

Research guide: Koorie Victoria and State Library of Victoria collections

Explore perspectives and stories from Aboriginal people from Victoria in the Library's unique collections: from maps, newspapers and activist posters to personal diaries.

Please note: The State Library of Victoria advises that the subject of this work may include images and names of deceased people; it may also include words and descriptive terms that may be offensive to Indigenous Australians. This work is presented as part of the record of the past; contemporary users should interpret the work within that context.

More from the author

Visit Cassie Lynch's website to find a full listing of other works.