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Adolescent Literature as a Complement to the Classics
Transcript of Adolescent Literature as a Complement to the Classics
Complement to the Classics Ashley Fanale Reading from a Female Perspective:
A Doll House and Permanent Connections Exploring the American Dream Modernizing Romeo and Juliet To introduce students to Romeo and Juliet
before they begin the actual play, the text
suggests having students read a novel with a
similar pretense. Books like Summer of My
German Soldier (an American girl and a Nazi
soldier during World War II) or Across the Barricade
(a protestant girl and a catholic boy) are YA novels
based on Romeo and Juliet, and students may enjoy
finding these similarities. Another suggested pre-reading activity is to have students read isolated short passages from Romeo and Juliet that deal with characterization. This way, students are easing their way into reading the language of Shakespeare, and they can also keep a character chart and learn important information about the different characters. Finally, because Romeo and Juliet is a play and ultimately meant to be performed and watched, teachers are strongly encouraged to get students up and moving and acting as much as possible, and even let them watch a performance of the play in order to compare interpretations. In order to break away from the traditional cannon of male-centered literature, the text offers a plan for teaching two texts- a YA novel and a classic play- to get a female perspective and feminist voice in the classroom. Because gender roles can be a difficult topic for students, it is actually recommended to start with A Doll House- in this case, the removal from the present is seen as a positive. One of the more interesting activities suggested was making a Sociometric Map to keep track of character relations. This is a colorful graphic organizer meant to be an easy visual display to explain how different characters interact with each other. Permanent Connections is the chosen supplementary text to A Doll House. Though a novel that deals with many feminist issues, the narrator of the novel is male, and so the male students in the classroom are less likely to feel excluded. This chapter dealt with creating literature circles for six YA novels before having the class as a whole read The Great Gatsby. Each of the six YA novels deals with characters pursuing their dreams to either a positive end or to an unhealthy extent. During the literature circles, there would be less structure and students have more freedom. When the class reconvenes for Gatsby, however, there will be more structure. Along with focusing on the similarities and differences between their YA novel and The Great Gatsby, students would also focus on identifying the different motifs and their meanings in Gatsby. Also, students would take time to think about the different character names and what that might reflect about their character (such as Meyer Wolfsheim). Overall, this unit would lead to some sort of synthesizing activity in which students would compare and contrast how the American Dream in The Great Gatsby relates to the dreams and goals of the characters in their YA novel (and any other similarities/parallelisms they would find worth noting!).