Teaching American Literature in a Time Constrained Condition

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Education is changing in the fast paced world we live in. As educators and course developers we must change with the times as well. The idea of long, drawn out coursework has come to an end. The direction education is taking us is to teach a curriculum of only 2 works by American authors per class. We, as educators, must choose the most relevant and time honored courses as possible to accomplish this. The works I have chosen are “Rip Van Winkle” by Washington Irving and “Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain. Each of these is timeless and speaks to us from a historical standpoint. Rip Van Winkle was written by Washington Irving in 1819 and was originally published in a book of shorts called “The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. Rip Van Winkle was a popular story from this book then and remains so today. When Irving penned this story, the United States was less than 40 years old and there were still remnants of British sympathizers in the new country. This short story is full of historical content and allegorical references that make it a story for the ages and a lesson in prose that has remained relevant to this day. Irving tells the tale of a man who was a bit of the town joke. Rip was a lazy man with a nagging wife. Rip loves to be the town clown and jokester. He loves to hear the gossip at the town and be part of the crowd who tells it. He also likes to go off with his dog into the woods and hunt. It is here that our protagonist’s life changes. Rip encounters a group of elves/dwarves who ply him with their homemade liquor. Rip eventually gets so drunk he falls asleep. Only his sleep is deep. So deep, in fact, he awakens twenty years later, as though abducted by aliens and finally released (Cekot). But ... ... middle of paper ... ...k place. We should address mature subject matter with our students so that they too, can become mature. If we only teach a child children’s subject matter, we will only raise adults who think like children. References RAYMOND W. CECOT (2006). Rip Van Winkle: Twenty Years of Missing Time, A Literary Perspective. Retrieved from http://www.iraap.org/articles/ripvanwinkle.htm BRIAN J. JONES (2008). Washington Irving, An American Original. New York, New York, Arcade Publishing. QUIRK, TOM (2013). The Flawed Greatness of Huckleberry Finn. Retrieved from http://mizzoumag.missouri.edu/2013/05/the-flawed-greatness-of-huckleberry-finn/ SANCHEZ, MARY (2011). Commentary: 'Huck Finn,' the N-word and sanitizing history. Retrieved from http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/01/15/106592/commentary-huck-finn-the-n-word.html

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