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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Studying Robert Frost's "Mending Wall," students explore the intricate relationship between a poem's form and its content.
Students are often gleeful to discover that their reading homework involves only a few short poems. Yet the attentive student realizes that carefully reading a poem involves as much work as reading a short story, article, or passage from a novel. This lesson teaches students how to read a poem so that they are prepared, rather than simply present, for class discussion.
Students will learn about the impact of enjambment in Gwendolyn Brooks' short but far-reaching poem "We Real Cool." One element of this lesson plan that is bound to draw students in is this compelling video of working-class Bostonian John Ulrich reciting the poem (scroll down that web page to and click on the John Ulrich thumbnail).
In this lesson, students analyze, compare, and contrast two famous but different poems about death. Students will study poetry form (elegy and villanelle) and poetic devices such as repetition and tone.
Centered on poems about the natural world, this lesson encourages students, first, to make the reading of poetry a creative act; and, second, to appreciate particular literary devices in their functions as semaphores or interpretive signals.