english A extended essay topics

IB English A Extended Essay Topics

After many years of writing IB essays, I have found that working on an English A extended essay is more than just difficult — it’s a chance to express a passion for literature. I will provide tips and suggestions for choosing the most interesting English A extended essay topics, drawing on my knowledge of IB criteria to assist you.

What Is English A in the IB Diploma Programme?

The IB DP English A is an advanced literature course that emphasizes critical thinking, analysis, and the research of literature from various cultures and periods. This subject encourages students to actively interact with various texts, promoting an understanding of the art of literature and how it influences people and communities. This course falls under the Group 1 category, centered around language and literature studies.

As I know from my years of engagement with the IB, English A is offered at Higher Level (HL) and Standard Level (SL) for students with varying degrees of interest and expertise in literature. The course demands an understanding of texts and an appreciation for the nuances of literary expression and the contexts from which they emerge. From my experience, this study depth cultivates academic skills, empathy, and a broader worldview.

According to general IB criteria, the English A curriculum covers a broad spectrum of literature, including works in translation, which I find especially valuable. This element guarantees that students encounter diverse viewpoints and perspectives outside their usual surroundings, fostering a vital global literacy in today’s interconnected society.

From my experience, the detailed study of texts enables students to develop a keen analytical eye. When analyzing a poem or evaluating a novel, the focus on careful examination and understanding helps students develop essential skills beyond the classroom, improving their capacity for critical thinking and ability to express their ideas clearly.

Understanding the English A Extended Essay

In my extensive experience as an IB writer, the cornerstone of crafting a successful English A extended essay rests in carefully selecting a topic. Choosing one that aligns with the IB’s stringent requirements and ignites your passion for literature is essential. To assist you with this first step, here is a list of factors to consider that could aid in choosing your topic:

  • Consider authors’ works from specific literary periods or movements that intrigue you, such as Romanticism, Modernism, or Post-Modernism. Each era offers unique perspectives and themes.
  • Research specific genres such as tragedy, comedy, novel, or poetry to highlight the conventions and innovations that define and drive literary creativity.
  • Examine how texts reflect, resist, or are affected by their cultural and historical contexts to gain a powerful perspective for analyzing literature.
  • Identify and analyze central themes or motifs within literature (such as identity, exile, love, death, or the quest for meaning) to achieve profound insights and connections across texts and contexts.

Remember that the English A extended essay is a remarkable opportunity to deepen your understanding of literature and its myriad expressions across time and space.

english A extended essay topics

English A Extended Essay Topics and Research Questions

Drawing from my extensive experience as an IB writer and tutor, I can give you some topic ideas and specific research questions to inspire your English A extended essay:

  1. The Role of the Byronic Hero in Victorian Literature. How does the depiction of the Byronic hero in Charlotte Brontë’s “Jane Eyre” and Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights” reflect the societal attitudes of Victorian England?
  2. The Evolution of Feminist Themes in 20th-Century Literature. To what extent have the feminist themes in Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own” influenced contemporary feminist literature?
  3. The Intersection of Culture and Identity in Post-Colonial Literature. How do Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Americanah” and Jhumpa Lahiri’s “The Namesake” portray the impact of cultural displacement on identity?
  4. Dystopian Societies: A Reflection of Contemporary Social Anxieties. In what ways do George Orwell’s “1984” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” mirror the social anxieties of their respective times?
  5. The Psychological Depth of Gothic Literature. How do the Gothic elements in Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” and Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” show psychological fears and anxieties?
  6. Magic Realism as a Vehicle for Social Commentary. How does Gabriel García Márquez use magic realism in “One Hundred Years of Solitude” to comment on Latin America’s political and social landscape?
  7. Tragedy and Morality in Shakespeare’s Plays. What role does the concept of tragedy play in shaping the moral messages of William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and “Macbeth”?
  8. The Narrative Techniques of Unreliable Narrators in Modern Literature. How do the unreliable narrators in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” and Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” affect the reader’s perception of truth?
  9. The Symbolism of Nature in Romantic Poetry. To what extent does the symbolism of nature in William Wordsworth’s and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poetry reflect Romanticism’s view of the natural world?
  10. The Bildungsroman Genre through Different Cultures. How do the elements of the Bildungsroman genre manifest in “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee and “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” by James Joyce?
  11. War and Its Effects on Human Relationships in Literature. How is the impact of war on human relationships depicted in Erich Maria Remarque’s “All Quiet on the Western Front” and Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms”?
  12. The Use of Satire to Critique Society in 18th-Century Literature. In what ways do Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels” and Voltaire’s “Candide” employ satire to critique the society and politics of their time?
  13. The Theme of Isolation in Modernist Literature. How do the themes of isolation and alienation manifest in T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis”?
  14. The Concept of the American Dream in Literature. How is the concept of the American Dream critiqued in Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” and John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men”?
  15. Mythology and Its Influence on Contemporary Fantasy Literature. To what extent have ancient myths influenced the world-building and thematic elements in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” and J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series?
  16. The Portrayal of Mental Health in Contemporary Young Adult Literature. How do John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars” and Ned Vizzini’s “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” address the topic of mental health among teenagers?
  17. The Impact of the Digital Age on Narrative Structure in New Literature. How has the narrative structure in literature evolved with the advent of the digital age, as seen in Jennifer Egan’s “A Visit from the Goon Squad”?
  18. Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Love and Marriage in Literature. How do the cultural contexts influence the portrayal of love and marriage in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Half of a Yellow Sun” and Leo Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina”?
  19. Eco-Criticism and Nature in Post-2000 Fiction. How do contemporary authors like Barbara Kingsolver in “Flight Behavior” and Richard Powers in “The Overstory” incorporate eco-criticism to address environmental concerns?
  20. The Evolution of Heroic Archetypes in Epic Literature. How have heroic archetypes in epic literature evolved from Homer’s “The Odyssey” to George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series?
  21. Identity and Diaspora in Post-Colonial Literature. How do Salman Rushdie’s “Midnight’s Children” and Zadie Smith’s “White Teeth” show themes of identity and diaspora in post-colonial societies?
  22. The Role of Food in Literature as a Symbol of Cultural Identity. What role does food play in establishing cultural identity and heritage in Laura Esquivel’s “Like Water for Chocolate” and Joanne Harris’s “Chocolat”?
  23. The Influence of Classical Literature on Modern Science Fiction and Fantasy. To what extent have classical myths and literature influenced the thematic and narrative structures of modern science fiction and fantasy genres?
  24. Gender Dynamics and Power in the Works of Shakespeare. How does William Shakespeare portray gender dynamics and power relationships in “Othello” and “The Taming of the Shrew”?
  25. Narrative Voice and Perspective in Autobiographical Fiction. How do the narrative voice and perspective in autobiographical fiction enhance the reader’s understanding of the author’s life, as seen in Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” and Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar”?
  26. The Representation of Artificial Intelligence in Literature. How is artificial intelligence represented in literature, and what does it suggest about human fears and aspirations, as seen in Isaac Asimov’s “I, Robot” and Philip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”?
  27. Researching the Literary Merit of Graphic Novels. What literary devices do graphic novels employ to convey complex narratives and themes, as seen in Alan Moore’s “Watchmen” and Marjane Satrapi’s “Persepolis”?

Each topic offers a different perspective for examining the literature and provides opportunities for in-depth step-by-step research, critical thinking, and individual reflection.

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Use the English A extended essay as an opportunity for personal growth. Effective time management and actively seeking feedback can significantly improve the quality of your work. You can create an essay that meets IB criteria and shows your passion for literature through careful consideration, effective research, and passionate writing. Additionally, keep in mind that our team of experienced IB writers is always ready to help you with your extended essay. ✍️

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