Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Teaching Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

The New Year

We've started a new semester, and I get a chance to start all over again. How many jobs allow you to do that? Right now I'm feeling very optimistic: I like the classes I get to teach this semester, and I love my students. I have two sections of seniors, and one section of sophomores. My task for the sophomores is to do a great job of preparing them for the next level of English, but I really feel the pressure with the seniors. This is the last high school English class these students will have, and I want to make sure they are prepared for college or the workplace.

Here's what I'm doing with the seniors: the overall theme for the class is "Gods, Heroes, and Monsters." We're starting with Frankenstein, which is such a rich text, with so many opportunities for deep conversation, and multiple levels of analysis.

When we finish reading Frankenstein, the students will be reading selected novels in book clubs. I want to give the students books that connect with the themes of Frankenstein. Here is a list of the novels I'm considering. I'm working with our awesome media specialist to add to my list of novels, but this is what we've come up with so far:

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

I want to appeal to a wide variety of students, and really engage them. The novels should trigger conversations, questions, curiosity, and be connected to the themes of Frankenstein. After the novels we will begin working on a research project based on questions and issues brought up by the books they've read (topics like human cloning, genetic engineering, etc.).

If you have any more ideas for me (and for my students), feel free to share in the comments. More on all of this later!


Andi said...

Gosh, you make me miss teaching somewhere that I can really shape the curriculum! I've been stuck in college composition so long its...a bit dull. LOL You have some great choices here. Enjoy the adventure!

bibliophiliac said...

@Andi-That's one of the things I love about my job. My colleagues and I are able to work on our curriculum, and it makes teaching so much more rewarding.

Judith said...

Frankenstein is one of my favorites, and after 40 years, I'm due for a re-read. What an excellent syllabus for your students! So thought-provoking. Should get them debating amongst themselves, I'd say.

I've heard such good things about The Past. It's on my list.