Theoretical approach to textual analysis

The Australian Curriculum Senior Secondary English Unit 2 states:

In Unit 2, students analyse the representation of ideas, attitudes and voices in texts to consider how texts represent the world and human experience. Analysis of how language and structural choices shape perspectives in and for a range of contexts is central to this unit. By responding to and creating texts in different modes and mediums, students consider the interplay of imaginative, interpretive and persuasive elements in a range of texts and present their own analyses. Students examine the effect of stylistic choices and the ways in which these choices position audiences for particular purposes, revealing attitudes, values and perspectives. Through the creation of their own texts, students are encouraged to reflect on their language choices and consider why they have represented ideas in particular ways.

Green’s 3D Model of Literacy, originally designed to support the integration of ICTs in literacy education, can be used to frame questions and activities to support students in achieving the aims as set out in the unit description above. The 3D model provides a frame and structure so that students are able to integrate their identification and analysis of language features, contextual and cultural interpretations as well as critical readings. The model is provided here as a lens for preparing the teaching of close textual analysis. However, with some classes or students, it might be appropriate to introduce the model directly to students so that they are able to walk through the 3 Dimensions in an analytical approach to the texts they study.

The 3 Dimensions are:

  • Operational: How are language, literary devices and textual structures used to create the text?
  • Cultural: What are the cultural, social and political contexts of the novel that influence, enrich or hinder an understanding and analysis of the novel?
  • Critical: What views of the world, and values, are inherent in the text? What alternative views are possible and by whom, and how might they be constructed?

While the dimensions are conceptualised separately here for ease of understanding, all three dimensions begin to overlap during analysis. For example, a reader’s understanding of the way language is used (operational), will interact with their knowledge of the way the world works within the setting of the novel (cultural), and also enables them to understand that the novel represents one way of interpreting and expressing a view of the world (critical).
Image of 3D Circles


Outline of key elements of the text


In True History of the Kelly Gang, the legendary Ned Kelly speaks for himself, scribbling his narrative on random scraps of paper in semi-literate but magically descriptive prose as he flees from the police. To his pursuers, Kelly is nothing but a monstrous criminal, a thief and a murderer. To his own people, the lowly class of ordinary Australians, the bushranger is a hero, defying the authority of the English to direct their lives. Indentured by his bootlegger mother to a famous horse thief (who was also her lover), Ned saw his first prison cell at 15 and by the age of 26 had become the most wanted man in the wild colony of Victoria, taking over whole towns and defying the law until he was finally captured and hanged. Here is a classic outlaw tale, brought to life by the skill of a great novelist. (See plot summary from


Main characters:

  • Ned Kelly (narrator and Australian bushranger/historical figure)
  • Ellen Kelly (his mother, who married and was widowed by Red Kelly)
  • Grace Kelly (Ned’s young sister, who he helps deliver at home)
  • Richard Shelton (the boy Ned rescued from drowning)
  • Dan Kelly (his younger brother, who joins him in the ‘Kelly Gang’)
  • Harry Power (bushranger and partner of Ellen Kelly, who teaches Ned how to survive and hide out in bush)
  • Kate Kelly (Ned’s sister, who was wooed by Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick)
  • Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick (officer who attempts to woo Kate Kelly but instead gets shot in hand by Ned)
  • Steve Hart (friend who joins Ned and Dan in the ‘Kelly Gang’)
  • Joe Byrne (friend who joins Ned and Dan in the ‘Kelly Gang’)
  • George King (Ned’s stepfather, who had earlier fathered a boy with Mary Hearn, Ned’s lover)
  • Mary Hearn (Ned’s lover and mother of a baby boy to George King, and mother of Ned’s unborn daughter)
  • Thomas Curnow (schoolmaster who wins Ned’s trust during the siege in Glenrowan. However, Curnow warns police, bringing on the final confrontation)
  • The as-yet-unborn and unnamed daughter of Ned and Mary who is the intended recipient of Ned’s letters that form the novel.


The setting is regional Victoria in the mid to late 1880s. The events described in the novel occur across an area that is between one and three hundred kilometres north and north-east of Melbourne. Some of the key sites include the small townships or local sites of Benalla, Greta, Euroa, Powers Lookout, Stringybark Creek, Jerilderie and Glenrowan. Descriptions of the Kelly Gang connection to each of these and other local townships can be found at the Ned Kelly Trail website. At the time, the land was dominated by native forests and bush, but the government was encouraging the take-up of land for agricultural purposes. It was still a small population of immigrants and convicts from Great Britain, and there are limited references to any Aboriginals in the area, except for those employed as black trackers by the local police. This reflects the historical context, marginalisation of the Aboriginal people and European disregard for the Indigenous stewardship of the land.


Family values, love, oppression, lawlessness, violence, loyalty, cultural and linguistic heritage, policing and the law, rebellion, 19th-century Australia, English–Irish tensions and conflict, villains, heroes, folklore, Australian icons and identity.

Pre-reading fun and games

Activities 1 and 2 are designed to gather data and impressions of students’ knowledge of Ned Kelly and the Kelly Gang.

Activity 1: Ned Kelly Quiz

The Ned Kelly Quiz is already set up for you and is simple to import and use. The purpose of the quiz is to determine what students already know of Kelly through their engagement in a quick quiz that generates data for individual students. At the end of this unit, you and the students may be interested in returning to this early data and repeating the quiz to compare results.

The quiz-making software chosen, Socrative, is a free app for Apple and Android computers, tablets and smartphones. It allows teachers to create or duplicate ready-made quizzes for their classes to quickly test and get feedback about student understanding and knowledge. Go to the teacher registration page and when registered you will be assigned a ‘classroom number’ so that students will know where to find you and your quizzes. Students do not need to register: all they need to do is go to and then enter your assigned classroom number. Alternatively, students can download the Socrative Student App and enter that classroom number.

If you have not used Socrative before, you might like to visit the Socrative step-by-step guide (video tutorial, 9 minutes), or you might prefer the Socrative step-by-by step print guide. You are likely to discover multiple new ways of using the quiz in Exit Ticket or Space Race modes. For further ideas and reflections, Pinterest has an extensive Socrative board.

To access the ready-made Ned Kelly quiz for this unit, you will need the code SOC-2964480 (when prompted) in order to ‘import the quiz’ to your ‘classroom’.

Activity 2: Ned Kelly Wikiracing Game

The Wikiracing Game is a fun, interactive game that students can play as a whole class, in pairs, or in small groups. The idea is to select two unrelated subjects, such as ball bearings and seahorses, and race one another from the beginning wikipage (ball bearings) to the end wikipage (seahorses). Only links within Wikipedia can be used. The winner is the student who either uses the least amount of clicks, or gets to the end page first. Students will quickly discover that the more they know about a subject, the quicker they will reach the end page.

In this version of the race the end wikipage is Ned Kelly, or a related topic such as the Jerilderie Letter.

Note: Activities 1 and 2 do not directly address content descriptors but provide stepping stones for students towards analysis and data and for the teacher to enable support and interventions where necessary.

Introduction to the cultural context: Activities 3 and 4

The novel assumes familiarity with the legend of Ned Kelly, the Kelly Gang and 19th-century colonial Australia. Many students, depending on their place of birth, language and knowledge of Australian colonial history, will not have the assumed knowledge to fully understand and engage with the cultural dimensions of the novel. The following activities are designed to provide all students with a shared knowledge of the essential background to the novel. Having developed this knowledge, emphasis can then be focused on the literary and language devices and structure of the novel (operational), and the multiple perspectives and ways of reading the text (critical).

Activity 3: The Potato Famine and Irish emigration to Australia in the 19th century

Resource 1: Irish Potato Famine (4-minute video)
Resource 2: The Irish Famine (BBC Online History)

Form students into groups for class discussion and consolidation of key facts and personal responses.

Many of your students will have other stories of their family’s migration to Australia, and sometimes those stories will be as tumultuous or even more so than the experiences of the Irish. Depending on your context, Resource 3: Immigration statistics might be a productive and inclusive exercise for the class. It enables simple research into statistics and experiences of migrants from all over the world. This might be a 10-minute exercise or it could expand into something much more substantial. The ensuing discussion may encourage some students to engage with the story on a more personal level, comparing Ned’s experience to their own or others’ stories of settlement in Australia. (While accessed through the Museum of Victoria, this resource is equally relevant to all states and territories of Australia.)(ACEEN038)

Activity 4: The Kelly Family and Kelly Gang

Resource 4: Australian Stories: Ned Kelly on the Australian Government website provides an excellent summary of the details of the Kelly family, Ned himself and the Kelly Gang. It will allow students to identify the factual aspects of Carey’s novel and speculate about those parts of the novel that are fiction. As well as historical documents and histories of Ned Kelly, there are many songs, films, paintings and poems, and most of these celebrate rather than condemn Kelly and the Kelly Gang. Resource 5: Paul Kelly’s song Our Sunshine (video includes lyrics and Sidney Nolan artwork) is just one example, and Resource 6: Ned Kelly and the Sydney Olympics (5-minute video) illustrates the construction of Ned Kelly and colonial Australian identities as celebrated in the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games.

After viewing and reading the resources, students will discuss:

  • What qualities did Ned exhibit that some Australians find admirable?
  • What are some of the key facts we learn about Ned Kelly through these texts?
  • Was Kelly a hero or villain?
  • Is Kelly a worthy Australian icon?
  • How do these authors/artists portray Kelly and from what perspective?

At the conclusion of the discussion, students should independently record a written response to each question, keeping these for reflection at the conclusion of the unit of study.
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Introduction to the novel and the writer’s craft: the operational dimension

Activity 5: Close reading of chapter 19

It is at this point, with the contextual and cultural knowledge gained in previous activities, that students will begin to read the novel. (Please note that page references here refer to the 2008 Vintage Classics version of True History of the Kelly Gang.) If we refer back to Green’s 3D Model, we are now placing a focus on the Operational dimension, but with close reference to the Cultural dimension explored in Activities 3 and 4. This is an example of how the dimensions intersect and support a more analytical response. While elements of the Critical dimension will naturally arise and may provoke discussion, at this stage that dimension is not yet an explicit focus unless teacher judgement suggests it is timely and useful to capitalise on student comments and analysis at this point.

A suggested entry process is as follows:

  • Read the epigraph and discuss possible interpretation in light of what the students know about the Kelly Gang.
  • Peruse the map to locate the novel.
  • Read aloud the prose taken from an undated, unsigned manuscript housed in the Melbourne Public Library. Discuss why Carey would choose to open the novel in this way.
  • Read the description on page 4 of Parcel 1: His Life until the Age of 12, and explain that there are 13 Parcels that provide a chronological structure to the novel, which are imaginative devices and are not historical documents. This is the first instance in the text of fact meeting fiction (and creating what is often described as faction).
  • View and listen to Resource 7: Peter Carey reading aloud the first page of the novel (2 minutes).
  • Discuss the following literary concepts in relation to the opening of the novel. Definitions for these can be found in the Australian Curriculum Senior English Glossary, though first person protagonist point of view does not appear in the glossary. Fortunately all literary terms are very easily illustrated in the opening pages of the novel, and they should be active vocabulary for all students across the unit.
    • narrative point of view: the opinion or viewpoint expressed by an individual in a text; for example, an author, a narrator, a character or an implied reader.
    • perspective: the way a reader/viewer is positioned by the author through the text, or how a particular ideology is embedded in a text; for example, a feminist perspective.
    • voice: in the literary sense, voice can be used to refer to the nature of the voice projected in a text by an author (for example, ‘authorial voice’ in a literary text, or ‘expert voice’ in an exposition).
    • and more specifically, this is a first person protagonist point of view because the protagonist, Ned Kelly, speaks/writes directly of his own experiences.
  • Activity 7 extends student understanding of those and other literary (operational) devices. Understanding and application of the devices will be extended in the Receptive Assessment Task and Productive Assessment Task when students will be supported to link this knowledge to both the cultural and critical dimensions of the text.

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Activity 6: Progressing the reading through to completion

English teachers have various approaches to encourage and support timely and complete reading of class novels. The following suggestion relies on the students completing reading at night and on weekends, perhaps over a fortnight or so, while the class continues on with an alternative unit during school time. Because this is a lengthy novel, three classroom quizzes have been constructed so that you can provide these at three staged deadlines for reading. Data from the quizzes will inform you of those students struggling to keep up or not comprehending the novel, and the use of quizzes may motivate some students to keep up, and test their comprehension and recall as they read.

If you have not yet used the Socrative quiz app, it is suggested that you view this introductory video before signing up.

Date/deadline Parcel number Approximate length of reading Access the Socrative ready-made quiz
1 and 2 70 pages Quiz 1
1. Log into your Socrative Teacher account.
2. Ask students to go to and provide them with your room number so they can log in.
3. As students log into your room, import the ready-made quiz with the code: SOC-2983609.
4. Choose whether it will be at your pace or your students’, and other options, and then start the quiz.
5. Request and analyse the quiz results.
3 to 7 170 pages Quiz 2 instructions as for Quiz 1 but this time the quiz code is SOC-3011707.
8 to 13 230 pages Quiz 3 instructions as for Quiz 1 but this time the quiz code is SOC-3022528.

Note: Again, these activities do not explicitly address any of the content descriptions. However, they are designed to keep students on track and provide data for the teacher to support students and intervene where it is apparent that a student lacks understanding, cultural insights or has not engaged with the text, jeopardising their opportunities to meet the achievement standards.

Point of view, perspective and voice: where the Operational, Cultural and Critical dimensions meet

In 1879, a year prior to his capture and execution, Ned Kelly dictated a letter to another Kelly Gang member, Joe Byrne. This letter, known as the Jerilderie Letter, is 8000 words long and can be accessed in digital form through the National Museum of Australia. In the letter, Ned Kelly asserts his innocence and makes strong claims about the injustices and corruption of the police (known as trappers) in the colony. He is particularly outraged by the abuses and oppression suffered by the Irish and his relatives. It is a startling document and one that allows us to hear the voice and the point of view of such an iconic historical figure.

The Jerilderie Letter is inextricably linked to True Story of the Kelly Gang as described below by Carey himself in 2013 and makes clear that the choice of perspective and the adoption of Ned Kelly’s voice, derived from the letter, is the inspiration and basis for the novel Carey wrote:

The thing I’d felt for a long time about reading the Jerilderie letter, which I read when I was very young, about 20 years old, was what an extraordinary voice it was. There was a mixture of beautiful Irish invective rolling on, unpunctuated, which reminded me somewhat of James Joyce’s Ulysses and there’s an Irishness, a rolling language. It did occur to me even at the age of 20 that this could be the basis of a literary invention which would be a modernist work about my country. It took me years and years and years to get to the position where I might do that, by then I was living in New York City far away from here. But the thing that stayed, that was really clear to me at that time, was that here was my character’s DNA, that I really could build a character from those words.

(See full interview with Peter Carey)

While Carey writes the novel in Kelly’s voice and from his perspective, it is necessary for students to maintain their distinction between the craft of the novelist – and the fictional and elaborated elements of the novel – and Kelly’s original document. On the Man Booker Prize website, Carey’s novel, which won the prestigious award in 2001, is described in these terms, stressing the craft of Carey in building on Ned Kelly’s perspective and voice:

True History of the Kelly Gang is the song of Australia, and it sings its protest in Ned Kelly’s voice. Carey gives us Ned Kelly as orphan, Oedipus, horse thief, farmer, bushranger, reformer, bank-robber, police-killer and finally, his country’s beloved Robin Hood. By the time of his hanging in 1880 a whole country would seem to agree that he was ‘the best bloody man that has ever been in Benalla’. Carey
skillfully makes art from his country’s great story and helps us all to understand the measure of that ‘best bloody man’. 

(See the Man Booker Prize website)

A section of the Jerilderie Letter is one text used within the Receptive Assessment Task, and there are various readings available online.

Activity 7 below is designed to immerse students in the examination of point of view, perspective and voice, and definitions for each from the Australian Curriculum: Senior English Glossary are used in the table below to enable students to distinguish between each of the terms and complete their analysis.

An examination of the task reveals that to be successful, students are required to consider each of the three dimensions of Green’s model, and it is apparent that at times the two or three will come together, providing insights and analysis, such as the comments relating to perspective and point of view in the table below.

Activity 7: Close analysis of pages 27–34

Summary of pages 27–34 (beginning with ‘2 days later’ on page 28): In this short extract, Kelly describes a confrontation between his father and a local police officer that ends in his father’s imprisonment in a windowless cell near the Kelly home. Kelly goes on to describe how life at home without his father became ‘in many ways more pleasant’ as his mother reverted to her tradition of Irish storytelling. He describes working on the family farm and the birth of his baby sister, Grace.

The table below is a teacher cheat sheet: use it with students but blank out the examples and comments in columns 2 and 3 so that students can work in teams to find their own examples and make comments. Alternatively, you might leave blank all but two or three of the teacher cheat sheet examples and comments to get students started. Conclude with a general discussion and encourage students to take notes or photos of others’ tables (with permission), as the skills developed here will be called upon again.

Stylistic and language features Example
These examples are for the benefit of teachers to direct and guide students
These comments are for the benefit of teachers to direct and guide students
Figurative language:
words used in a non-literal way: similes – ‘like a creature’ or metaphors – ‘she were a little foal a calf’
‘But my father would say nothing he were like some creature drugged by spiders.’ (p.28)
‘She were a little foal a calf’ (p. 32)
‘I approached the logs they was always damp and stained green with moss and mildew they give off a bad smell like dog shit in the rain.’ (p. 33)
The images used here relate to those things familiar in the life of a young country boy of that time (spiders, foals and dog shit) and reinforce the authenticity of Ned’s voice. We see the importance of family to him in the description of his little sister, as well as their vulnerability (‘little foal’) and poverty (‘a bad smell like dog shit in the rain’).
Idiom: expressions or slang used by particular social groups and do not make literal sense (e.g. ‘I am over the moon’, ‘on thin ice’, ‘a fish out of water’, ‘fed up to the back teeth’).  ‘Shut your gob’ (p. 28)
‘duff another fellow’s heifer’ (p. 28)
 ‘Gob’ and ‘duff’ are both Australian idioms. Gob refers to a mouth that won’t be silent, while duffing is stealing or removing brands from livestock. Both idioms reinforce the idea of crime and crude living.
Language features: sentence structure, vocabulary, punctuation and similar. The choices an author makes are determined by their intentions for the text and their perspective on the subject. ‘My mother sat on the table holding your Aunty Grace… I see my mother’s naked bottom.’ (p. 32: this extract is approximately half a page in length.) Note the absence of commas and the frequency of run-on sentences. There is limited punctuation, even when dialogue is used. Correct spelling is consistent across the novel; perhaps this is a concession made to ensure readers can read quickly. Numbers and abbreviations are used even though this is unconventional in novels. The language is that of an oral storytelling tradition, emphasising Ned’s cultural traditions and his alienation from the more educated English elite. This aspect of the novel is seen as one of its most distinctive features. Humour is added with reference to his ‘mother’s naked bottom’ as if that was the most intimate sight as his mother gave birth.
Narrative point of view: the narrative may be in first, second or third person. If in first person, like this novel, the narrator may be reliable or unreliable in interpreting what happens. ‘Soon all the scholars at Avenel school heard of my role at the birth… hole in every desk (from bottom of p. 33 to midway p. 34) As the narrator, Ned is unreliable because of his own prejudices and belief that he and his family were victimised by the English authorities. His account does not necessarily reflect all other historical accounts. Also, Carey adds his fictional events and moments, such as Ned’s experiences of being mistreated at school, in order that we see into the humanity and vulnerability of young Ned. This may make us more empathetic and allow us to forgive Ned for his life of crime. Because the novel is a first person narrative from the point of view of Ned, Carey must find alternative ways to tell the story of Ned’s capture and execution. It would not be plausible for those later events to be told in letter form from Ned.
Perspective: the way a reader/viewer is positioned by the author through the text, or how a particular ideology is embedded in a text; for example, a feminist perspective. ‘I remember but the light of the tallow candle it were golden on my mother’s cheeks’ (p. 30)
‘I vowed to be the best monitor that were ever born’ (p. 34)
‘She looked me frankly in the face and I loved her as if she were my very own.’ (p. 32)
Carey as author uses language to position us to be empathetic and even fond of Ned Kelly. He does this by establishing the oppression of the Kelly family, and through Ned we are led to believe that they are misunderstood and victimised. Carey also provides moments of tenderness, naivety, loyalty and love for family. Carey’s perspective in this novel is sympathetic to the Kelly family, Ned and the gang.
Voice: in the literary sense, voice can be used to refer to the nature of the voice projected in a text by an author. ‘I were so v. guilty I could never of admitted that life without my father had become in many ways more pleasant. Only when his big old buck cat went missing did I tell my ma I were pleased to see it gone.’ (p. 29) Further to comments above regarding point of view, the voice of Ned is particularly strong in this extract because it has a confessional tone with ‘never of admitted’ and ‘did I frankly tell my ma’. This language suggests the reader is being taken into confidence in order to set the record straight and learn the ‘true history’ of Ned, his family and the gang.

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Activity 8: The true(r) history of the Kelly Gang – exploring the Critical dimension of a text in comparison with True History of the Kelly Gang

Step 1: Access and read the Daily Telegraph article (Resource 8), published on 18 January 2013.

Step 2: Have students create their own tables to match that used in Activity 7. They should copy the first column with definitions of the stylistic and language features while leaving the other two columns momentarily blank.

Step 3: Using the table generated for the discussion of Activity 7 as a model, students should work individually or in pairs or groups, to complete a 2–3 sentence summary of the content of the article to demonstrate overall comprehension.

Step 4: They are then ready to identify examples of stylistic and language features in the article and make comments (as modelled in the table used for Activity 7).

Step 5: Finally, students can answer the following questions verbally or in writing, using examples from the text:

  • What is Penberthy’s perspective on the status of Ned Kelly as an Australian icon?
  • How does he use language to convey his perspective?
  • To what extent do you agree or disagree with him?

Step 6: Poll the students: At this point, who believes Kelly is a) a villain or b) a hero, and who is undecided?
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Evaluation of the text as representative of Australian culture 

One significance of True History of the Kelly Gang, as representative of Australian culture, is that it builds on and develops the historical evidence of Ned Kelly’s life and the activities of the Kelly Gang within the milieu of their time. Peter Carey was inspired by the literary and historical power of the Jerilderie Letter dictated by Kelly himself, and both the original letter and Carey’s drafts, notes and final version are housed together in the State Library of Victoria. These include papers relating to a number of national awards in the year following publication.

As well as this contribution to Australian historical and literary heritage, the novel has made a significant contribution to literature on a global scale. Perhaps the strongest indications that Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang has won an international audience, interested in and admiring of the worthiness of the textare the literary prizes it has garnered in the years immediately after publication:

  • Man Booker Prize (the most prestigious international prize for a book published in English) in 2001
  • Commonwealth Writers Prize (South East Asia and Overall Book Awards) in 2001
  • Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger (Best Foreign Book Prize translated to French) in 2003 

What is particularly interesting is that despite the voice of Kelly being distinctively stream-of-consciousness and in the vernacular language of an Irish settler in the Colony of Victoria in the 19th century, the book has won international accolades, even in translation. 

True Story of the Kelly Gang and intertextuality

The broad interest in Ned Kelly and the Kelly Gang is evident if you do a Google search for either ‘Ned Kelly’ or ‘Kelly Gang’, with nearly half a million references for both, and half of these are YouTube videos.

Among the search items you will find dedicated websites, music clips, paintings, original news reports, sketches from the time, publications and Ned Kelly’s own literary contribution to Australian literature, the Jerilderie LetterThe longevity of the legend is evident in the appearance of numerous newspaper articles published throughout the one hundred and thirty years since Kelly’s execution.

All of these texts, whether images, video, written or spoken language, are linked via intertextuality. The Australian Curriculum: English Glossary defines intertextuality as:

the associations or connections between one text and other texts. Intertextual references can be more or less explicit and self-conscious. They can take the form of direct quotation, parody, allusion or structural borrowing.

The selection of texts below form the basis of the receptive assessment task. All of the texts have connections to each other, directly or indirectly, and build on historical accounts and the ‘legend’ of Kelly.

Although not included in this exercise, intertextual links might just as easily be made with texts that could make any reference to Ned Kelly or the Kelly Gang, but instead have intertextual links because they share similar themes of oppression, escape and retribution (such as the bush ballad The Wild Colonial Boy or the film Django Unchained), or similar textual features and devices (such as the use of colonial vernacular language in Henry Lawson’s ‘Steelman’s Pupil‘). An exploration of these might form the basis of further intertextual activity in the classroom.


Receptive assessment task

In this activity, students will study a suite of texts related to Ned Kelly, illustrating the concept of intertextuality, and extending their consideration of authors’ (or painters’) perspective and voice. The task is in three parts: A, B and C as described below. Students should consider the performance standards set out in the Assessment Rubric before commencing this task.

Note: Although this is a written task, it would be a simple case of slightly modifying the wording of the task and the matrix if students require assessment in speaking/listening. This should include identification of alternative content descriptions.

Part A: Other texts on Ned Kelly and the Kelly Gang

In groups or individually, examine each of the seven texts provided, according to the Analysis Matrix. As you carry out your analysis, be mindful of your recent reading of True History of the Kelly Gang. Sections of the matrix have already been completed as a means of providing you with some guidance and a head start with the activity. 

Text 1Australia still divided over Ned Kelly (video, 5 minutes)

Text 2Preface to a Legend (first five paragraphs on page)
from All Things Ned Kelly Website (

Text 3The Jerilderie Letter (handwritten original, translated
and audio version, p.33)

Text 4Paul Kelly, ‘Our Sunshine’ (video, 4 minutes)

Text 5‘The End of the Gang: Front page news from The Age,
29 June 1880′
 (extract in PDF)

Text 6Sidney Nolan, Glenrowan (1946) – artwork, Ned Kelly
Collection, National Gallery of Australia

Text 7Cop Killer, Johnny Romeo exhibition

Part B: An extract from the novel

Select a short extract (1–3 pages) from any part of True History of the Kelly Gang that features the first person protagonist point of view (i.e. where Peter Carey writes as Ned Kelly) and include the reference to that extract as well as your brief analysis in the final row of the matrix.

Part C: Discussion paper

Write a 200–300 word discussion paper comparing and contrasting just ONE of the texts above with True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey.

Conclude your discussion with a closing paragraph, identifying and explaining which perspective is most closely aligned with your own view of the legend of Ned Kelly and the Kelly Gang, substantiating your argument with references to the texts.

Ensure that your discussion addresses all or most of the points you identified in the Analysis Matrix, addressing aspects such as perspective, language techniques in written and spoken texts, as well as relevant stylistic techniques if you choose music or art texts.
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See the Assessment rubric for this task for a mapping of these content descriptions to performance standards.

Consolidating understanding and reflection on learning

Before students begin the productive assessment task (below), it is recommended that you spend some time allowing students to revisit their preconceptions and understandings of Ned Kelly and the Kelly Gang, recorded in quiz form and discussion at the commencement of this unit. There are three easy ways of doing this:

  1. If students are not quiz-weary, they could revisit the original Socrative Ned Kelly from before they read the text: it is affirming for students who have engaged, and signals to you those students who need extra support before they attempt the productive assessment task, and those who may not have read the text.
  2. Students may also like to see if they can beat their time in a Wikirace from a random page to the Kelly Gang page.
  3. Students could revisit the notes they made at the beginning of the unit and reflect on how their opinions have been changed and/or consolidated by their study of True History of the Kelly Gang.

Any or all of these activities provide a grounding in some basic knowledge, and this can be capitalised on through discussion and debate in the classroom.

A more substantial contribution to overall understanding and student debate and discussion might be triggered by the following video, which provides an overview of the novel. The video, Representation and Text – True History of the Kelly Gang, runs for 5 minutes. While it is quite academic it might be a valuable resource in preparation for the essay.

The quotation used in the essay topic below that forms the productive assessment task is taken from this video, so students should see a direct link between the exercise of consolidation in viewing the video and then completing the essay.


Productive assessment task

Before students commence this task, they should view the Assessment Rubric, and consider and maintain a check on how successfully they believe they are meeting each of the criteria.

‘Carey gives Ned Kelly a voice . . . his Kelly is persuasive.’

Discuss the voice of Ned Kelly in True History of the Kelly Gang, including close references to Carey’s use of stylistic and language features to achieve this persuasive voice. Conclude your essay with a statement of Carey’s attitude to Kelly as a villain, hero or other, and whether Carey’s representation of Kelly accords with or differs from your own view.
(ACEEN024)   (ACEEN029)   (ACEEN034)   (ACEEN035)   (ACEEN036)   (ACEEN037)   (ACEEN038)   (ACEEN039)   (ACEEN040)

See the Assessment Rubric for this task for a mapping of these content descriptions to performance standards.