• 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.

  • Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find": Who's the Real Misfit?

    Georgia highway picture

    Known as both a Southern and a Catholic writer, Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964) wrote stories that are hard to forget. In this lesson, students will explore these dichotomies—and challenge them—while closely reading and analyzing "A Good Man is Hard to Find."

  • Robert Frost's "Mending Wall": A Marriage of Poetic Form and Content

    Robert Frost

    Studying Robert Frost's "Mending Wall," students explore the intricate relationship between a poem's form and its content.

  • Knowledge or Instinct? Jack London's "To Build a Fire"

    Bound for the Klondike gold fields. Chilkoot Pass, Alaska.

    As a man and his animal companion take a less-traveled path to their Yukon camp, they step into a tale of wilderness survival and dire circumstances in this excellent example of American literary naturalism by Jack London.

  • Stephen Crane's "The Open Boat"

    A dinghy like the one being towed by this skiff figures in Stephen Crane's  gripping tale "The Open Boat."

    The harrowing adventure of four men fighting for survival after a shipwreck is chronicled by Stephen Crane in "The Open Boat."  Students learn about narration, point of view, and man's relationship to nature in this classic example of American literary naturalism.

  • The Impact of a Poem's Line Breaks: Enjambment and Gwendolyn Brooks' "We Real Cool"

    Gwendolyn Brooks.

    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).

  • Lesson 1: Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury: Introduction

    Portrait of William Faulkner by Carl Van Vechten.

    Published in 1929, The Sound and the Fury is often referred to as William Faulkner's first work of genius. Faulkner's style is characterized by frequent time shifts, narrator shifts, unconventional punctuation and sentence structure, as well as a stream-of-consciousness technique that reveals the inner thoughts of characters to the reader. This curriculum unit will examine narrative structure and time, narrative voice/point of view, and symbolism throughout The Sound and the Fury.

  • Lesson 4: Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury: Narration, Voice, and the Compson Family's New System

    Portrait of William Faulkner by Carl Van Vechten.

    The third chapter of The Sound and the Fury is told from the perspective of Jason Compson, now the patriarchal head of the family, after his father's death, Quentin's suicide, and Caddy's abandonment of her own daughter (also named Quentin). His leadership does not bode well for keeping intact the remnants of the Compson family, ultimately indicating the passing of both the Old South at large and its one-time aristocratic families such as the Compsons.

  • Lesson 5: Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury: April Eighth, 1928: Narrating from an 'Ordered Place'?

    Portrait of William Faulkner by Carl Van Vechten.

    Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury perhaps best gains clarity and meaning in its final chapter, which uniquely is narrated in the third person, omniscient narrative style. The final chapter, often referred to as the "Dilsey chapter" maintains a present, linear narrative that begins to shed light on the events of the preceding three chapters.

  • Lesson 3: Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury: Narrating Quentin's Mental Breakdown

    Portrait of William Faulkner by Carl Van Vechten.

    In The Sound and The Fury, Faulkner's presentation of time is unique and complex, as the Quentin chapter symbolically opens with a description of Quentin's watch, which was given to him by his father.