Love the Lit.

This week we’re beginning two novels I enjoy teaching: The Red Badge of Courage and The Princess Bride. Plus, the kids can easily relate to these two tales, and here’s a very brief summary of how I teach them thematically.

With Crane’s work we discuss the “loud” nature of the immature, vain, and glory-seeking characters in contrast to the practical, duty driven, and responsible ones. The students definitely connect with the portrayal of immaturity as vocalized bravado, seeing this behavior in their friends and sometimes their families. Additionally, the students enjoy seeing definitions of courage develop, the romantic view of war challenged, and the determination of what constitutes duty and glory. Of course, The Red Badge of Courage is an excellent means of discussing American Romanticism, Realism, and Naturalism.

With Goldman’s unconventional fairy tale about a “princess bride”, the students truly enjoy exploring this satirical look at life. Starting right away with the fictionalized account of Goldman’s youth and the rediscovery of a classic fairy tale, the students learn not to trust the narrator and that they must read the story with their own purposes in mind, not with those of the author. The commentaries on celebrity, being the “best,” true love, reality and idealism, and more bring this novel to life in numerous ways. Of course, they are surprised by the biting humor absent from the movie, which adds to the fun of the novel’s study.

Fun week ahead!

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6 thoughts on “Love the Lit.

  1. mrschili

    I’m putting together the syllabus for my Lit class (that starts in two hours) and am really disappointed to be limited to the things in the anthology. I’m going to include some public domain works, too, just to get the kids some scope. Sadly, though, I can’t teach The Princess Bride because I only have my one copy of the book, and photocopying for students is both impractical and, you know, illegal…

    Reply
  2. mrschili

    It’s An Introduction to Literature, 15th edition, by Barnet, Burto and Cain. It’s pretty heavy on the poetry, and I’m not thrilled with how it’s laid out – I prefer to teach thematically rather than by genre. Regardless, I’ve got a mature bunch, and we’ve decided to start the semester by tackling Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, so I’m printing that off the internet for us to read starting tomorrow.

    Reply
  3. drpezz Post author

    I enjoy teaching my high school courses thematically as well, usually through the transcendentalist ideas. The students seem to enjoy it more this way rather than working chronologically through the writing styles.

    Reply
  4. mrschili

    And, really, what practical use is there in going through the writing styles? Unless one is going to go on to become, oh, I don’t know, an English teacher, there really isn’t any real-world application for “theme, setting, characterization, plot, blah, blah, blah.”

    My theory about literature is that its real value is in our shared experience of it. I understand things in my world better because I’ve read Frankenstein and because I’ve seen Forrest Gump. I want my students to be able to use the things we read and see in class to make better sense of the situations they find themselves in outside of the classroom. I want them to recognize character traits in people and to see the richness in the world a little more clearly for having taking my class.

    That’s my goal, anyway.

    Reply

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