• Lessons of the Indian Epics: Following the Dharma

    Bathing in the Ganges, India. A 19th-century photograph.

    The epic poem the Ramayana is thought to have been composed more than 2500 years ago, and like the Iliad and the Odyssey, was originally transmitted orally by bards. This lesson plan is designed to allow instructors to explore Hindu culture by examining the characters of the Ramayana, and the choices they make. Students will be able to explore the Hindu concept of right behavior (dharma) through an investigation of the epic poem, the Ramayana.The epic poem the Ramayana is thought to have been composed more than 2500 years ago, and like the Iliad and the Odyssey, was originally transmitted orally by bards. This lesson plan is designed to allow instructors to explore Hindu culture by examining the characters of the Ramayana, and the choices they make. Students will be able to explore the Hindu concept of right behavior (dharma) through an investigation of the epic poem, the Ramayana.

  • Introducing Metaphors Through Poetry

    Celebrated American poet Maya Angelou makes extensive use of metaphors in her  poetry.

    Metaphors are used often in literature, appearing in every genre from poetry to prose and from essays to epics. This lesson introduces students to the use of metaphor through the poetry of Langston Hughes, Margaret Atwood, and others.

  • Lessons of the Indian Epics: The Ramayana

    Lessons of the Indian Epics image

    The Ramayana (ram-EYE-ya-na) and the Mahabharata (ma-ha-BA-ra-ta), the great Indian epics, are among the most important works of literature in South Asia. Both contain important lessons on wisdom, behavior and morality, and have been used for centuries not only as entertainment, but also as a way of instructing both children and adults in the exemplary behavior toward which they are urged to strive and the immoral behavior they are urged to shun. In this lesson, students will read an abridged version of the Ramayana, and will explore the ways in which the story of Rama contains elements, such as the Epic Hero Cycle, that place it within the epic poetry tradition.

  • Symmetry in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

    "Sir Gawaine the Son of Lot, King of Orkney" from The Story of King Arthur and His Knights

    King Arthur, Camelot, Gawain, a bold challenge, a perilous journey, a beheading, an enchantment, and a shape-shifter are the ingredients of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. For the modern reader, Sir Gawain's tale is riveting even without understanding its symmetry or cultural and historical context. Viewed through the lens of the medieval thinker, reading this Arthurian tale becomes a rich, multi-layered experience.

  • Emily Dickinson & Poetic Imagination: "Leap, plashless"

    Emily Dickinson

    Emily Dickinson's poetry often reveals a child-like fascination with the natural world.  She writes perceptively of butterflies, birds, and bats and uses lucid metaphors to describe the sky and the sea.

  • Recognizing Similes: Fast as a Whip

    American poet ee cummings made vivid use of similes in his work.

    Similes are used often in literature, appearing in every genre from poetry to prose and from epics to essays. Utilized by writers to bring their literary imagery to life, similes are an important component of reading closely and appreciating literature.

  • Lesson 2: Thirteen Ways of Reading a Modernist Poem

    Planes, (subway) trains, automobiles and World War I

    This lesson prompts students to think about a poem’s speaker within the larger context of modernist poetry. First, students will review the role of the speaker in two poems of the Romanticism period before focusing on the differences in Wallace Stevens’ modernist “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.

  • Lesson 3: Navigating Modernism with J. Alfred Prufrock

    Planes, (subway) trains, automobiles and World War I

    In this lesson, students will explore the role of the individual in the modern world by closely reading and analyzing T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”

  • Lesson 1: Understanding the Context of Modernist Poetry

    Planes, (subway) trains, automobiles and World War I

    Understanding the context of literary modernism (specifically, modernist poetry) is important for students before they analyze modernist texts themselves. To that end, this lesson enables students to explore and consider the forces that prompted such a “fundamental change” in human nature.

  • Browning's "My Last Duchess" and Dramatic Monologue

    Robert Browning (1812–1889).

    Reading Robert Browning’s poem “My Last Duchess,” students will explore the use of dramatic monologue as a poetic form, where the speaker often reveals far more than intended.