Eighteenth Century Literature in Secondary Education

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Eighteenth Century Literature in Secondary Education As a undergraduate student, I have just realized my passion for literature and teaching. In high school, however, English was not my favorite subject. I enjoyed the subject and cherished my challenging teachers, but making a career out of literature was not something I had planned to do. Now, in my senior year as an English major, I am eager to record the ideas I have for teaching while I am learning, hopefully providing a fresh approach to literature from which future students may benefit. There are different levels of difficulty in secondary literature; most students comprehend and enjoy the horror of Poe’s "Tell-tale Heart" and the tragedy of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, but eighteenth-century British literature is a different story. The style of writing, the subjects the authors choose, and the obscure references to unfamiliar places and people in government and society all present difficulties for understanding this genre of literature. The challenge is to present the material using the via media or middle-way – a combination of history, style, literary terminology, and entertainment value of the literature writers like Pope, Swift, and Defoe create. William C. Dowling, in his article "Teaching Eighteenth-Century Literature in the Pocockian Movement (Or, Flimnap on the Tightrope, Kramnick to the Rescue)," says "students…do not on first encounter like eighteenth-century literature…Every teacher of eighteenth-century literature knows that if you can get bright students past the initial barrier, they will likely be hooked for life…" (Dowling 524). The idea behind this paper is to present ideas, discussion questions, thoughts, and teaching strategies that will make eig... ... middle of paper ... ...adapted into the eighteenth-century unit. With any luck, the ideas for writing, discussion, and projects presented in this paper may spark the interest of future high school students in eighteenth-century literature, so they too can enjoy the wonderful works of writers such as Swift, Defoe, and Pope. Works Cited Dowling, William C. "Teaching Eighteenth-Century Literature in the Pocockian Moment (Or, Flimnap on the Tightrope, Kramnick to the Rescue)." College English 49 (1987): 523-532. Evler, Mescal, ed. Elements of Literature. Sixth Course: Literature of Britain with World Classics. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston: Austin, 1997. Prentice Hall. Literature: Timeless Voices, Timeless Themes. The British Tradition. Prentice Hall: Upper Saddle River, NJ, 1999. Shaw, Shelia. "Shopping for Couplets: Pope at the Supermarket." CEA Critic 39.3 (1977): 27-31.

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