Literary Teaching Resources

For Upper Secondary School

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With millions of fans around the world, it is hard to believe that the renown English author Jane Austen passed away 200 years ago, in 1817. Her timeless works speak to us today with humor and irony about romance, relationships and family life of the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century.

 

Sense and Sensibility

Though she only wrote one novel, Emily Brontë made an immense contribution to English literature, being the first woman to write about topics considered male-only at the time, such as passion and power conflicts. Wuthering Heights defied Victorian England's stereotypes and societal norms, showing readers that women have unique characters and personalities and are equal to men.

 

Love and Madness

Wuthering Heights

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An English novelist and poet whose novels have become classics of English literature, Charlotte Brontë was brought up by her father and an aunt in a lonely parsonage on the wild Yorkshire moors. She and her two sisters who survived into adulthood first published their works (including her best known novel, Jane Eyre) under male pseudonyms.
Much of Jane Eyre was based on Charlotte Brontë's own life experience. Brontë was sent to a harsh boarding school at a young age, she worked as a governess for a wealthy family, and even the strange woman in the attic was inspired by a story she heard when visiting the Norton Conyers House in North Yorkshire, where there was a secret staircase leading up to a secret room in the attic.

 

Jane Eyre

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In November 2015 we highlighted Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice in Wonderland, and we proposed a lesson plan with a range of actvities that you could use in class to engage your students.

 

Alice in Wonderland

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(Re)presenting «Alice in Wonderland»

One hundred and fifty years after its publication Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland is still today a work that fascinates readers of all ages, nationalities and languages. What makes this work so timelessly appealing? How have different historical periods and cultures re-interpreted Alice, both the work and the character? How can teachers in Italian classrooms still draw interest among their students and encourage them to be active readers of Carroll’s novel? These are the questions that we have set out to answer in the following article.
By Timothy Alan Shaw and Mauro Spicci

Agatha Christie is a British writer from Devon, England. Christie had a phenomenal literary career as a writer of crime stories. She published 66 novels, 154 short stories and 20 plays. She is best known for the her detective novels, most of which revolve around the investigative work of such characters as Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple.

 

Murder on the Orient Express

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Born in Edinburgh to an Irish family, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was one of the most popular fiction writers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was a man of many interests: a doctor, a writer, but also an impassioned sportsman, who played cricket, football and was even one of the first Englishmen to learn how to ski.

 

A Scandal in Bohemia

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Roald Dahl was born 100 years ago in South Wales, Britain. His parents were Norwegian immigrants. In 1942, Dahl began working at the British Embassy in Washington, DC., where he also became a successful short story writer. He later moved to New York City, where he married actress Patricia Neal, with whom he had four children. In 1960, Dahl started writing stories to amuse his children. Many of these books went on to become international bestsellers, with their often macabre, darkly comic mood and villainous adult enemies of the kind-hearted child characters.

 

Matilda

Halloween with Roald Dahl

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Charles Dickens is the most popular English writer of the Victorian age and author of, among others, Oliver Twist, Great Expectations and David Copperfield. Click below for a lesson plan with a range of actvities that you could use in class with the beloved classic of the season, A Christmas Carol.

 

A Christmas Carol

David Copperfield

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In January 2016 we highlight Martin Luther King Jr., an American Baptist Minister, orator and leader of the American Civil Rights movement, known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience. His works include an autobiography, Letter from the Birmingham Jail, and collections of writings and speeches.

 

Martin Luther King Day

Martin Luther King

In March 2016 we highlighted Rudyard Kipling a British writer who was born in 1865 in British India and spent many years living there, which inspired many of his short stories including The Jungle Books. He is well known for his short stories and poems. In 1907 Kipling became the first English-language writer and the youngest person to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.

 

The Jungle Book

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Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his pen name George Orwell, is best known for novels Animal Farm and 1984. He was born in India and has lived in different parts of the world where he witnessed social injustices due to class divisions or authoritarian regimes. His work reflects his opposition to totalitarianism and support for individual freedom and equality.

 

1984

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F. Scott Fitzgerald was a so-called ‘Jazz Age’ novelist and short-story writer who is considered to be one of the greatest American writers of the twentieth century. His most famous and respected novel, The Great Gatsby, is one of the most penetrating descriptions of American life in the 1920s, and was inspired by events in the author's personal life. Although Scott Fitzgerald was an avid reader and a very talented writer from a young age, he was a bad student, a terrible speller, and was even kicked out of school at the age of twelve because he was not able to focus and had trouble finishing his work. It is now widely believed that Fitzgerald suffered from dyslexia.

 

Francis Scott Fitzgerald and the Jazz Age

The Great Gatsby

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Scott Fitzgerald 120 years on

This year we celebrate the 120th anniversary of the birth of Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, born in St. Paul, Minnesota on 24th September 1896.
By Timothy Alan Shaw and Mauro Spicci

William Shakespeare is the most famous writer of plays in the English language. He was born in 1564, in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. His plays appealed to all social classes thanks to his vivid characterisations and his masterly use of the English language. He was also an actor and a brilliant poet. He wrote thirty-nine plays and hundreds of poems.
Shakespeare contributed more phrases and sayings to the English language than any other person, and most of them are still in use today. He also used many phrases from other languages in his works. For example “Wear your heart on your sleeve” may derive from the custom at middle ages jousting matches, but was first recorded in Shakespeare's Othello, 1604. Find them all out here!

 

Shakespeare’s life

Romeo & Juliet

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The best Shakespeare resources from around the web: all in one place!

We know, teaching Shakespeare to students – especially when English is not their first language – takes a bit of courage and not just a bit of preparation. True, there are a myriad of resources out there, but how long will it take you to find the right ones to use with your class? Well, we are here to help. In this short article, we have collected the best websites with information and resources to help you prepare a lesson on Shakespeare that your students will not soon forget!
By Helen Cherkasov

Wanted Dead or Alive!

The texts and exercises below are intended as a contribution to the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, the “Immortal Bard” of English literature, offering firstly a reconstruction of his linguistic bequest to the English language (and in part to other languages), followed by an analysis of and active research into the many and varied forms in which the Bard has found a home in an extraordinarily wide (and at times unlikely) range of contexts in contemporary culture.
By Mauro Spicci and Timothy Alan Shaw

Shelley's novel was a groundbraker for Science Fiction genre. Since its release, science fiction literature divided in two parallel paths: on one side the theme of dangerous technology (started by Frankenstein itself), on the other side the one of technology as instrument for wonder and discovery.

 

Frankenstein and the Birth of Science Fiction

Frankenstein

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American author and Nobel Peace prize winner, John Steinbeck wrote about migrant workers and struggling working class people, exploring themes of fate and injustice.

 

John Steinbeck and The Fight for Social Justice

The Pearl

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Robert Louis Stevenson was a Scottish poet, travel writer and novelist. Though he started training as an engineer and then as a lawyer, he was always interested in writing and at the age of twenty-five, began to devote his life to literature. During his lifetime, he lived in France, the United States and in the South Seas, where he became known as ‘The Teller of Stories’.

 

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

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Bram Stoker is best known as the author of Dracula (1897), one of the most famous horror novels of all time. As your students prepare to choose their scary costumes for Halloween, inspire them to find out the story behind the most famous vampire, Count Dracula, with Bram Stoker's gothic horror novel.

 

Dracula

Jonathan Swift was born in Dublin in 1667 and came of age at the height of the Glorious Revolution. He was a great literary figure even in his time, but we know very little about his private life. Swift died in a mental institution struck down by an illness, but he wasn’t mad when he wrote Gulliver’s Travels, a satire on politics, and a timeless book for children.

 

Gulliver's Travels

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Mark Twain's real name was Samuel Clemens. He was born in Florida, USA, in 1835. He spent his childhood in a river town on the Mississippi River. This environment was the main source for some of his best known novels such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884). His pen name, “Mark Twain,” means safe waters, a phrase used by Mississippi boatmen. His best books are considered to be skillful re-creations of American life at that time. Clemens died in 1910, but Mark Twain is still remembered as one of America’s greatest writers.

 

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

A larger than life poet, playwright and author, Oscar Wilde was quite a celebrity during his lifetime. He became famous for his involvement in the philosophy of aestheticism and is best remembered for his plays, his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, and his witty epigrams, still as relevant today as they were in the 1890s.

 

Oscar Wilde and Beauty in Literature

The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Young King and Other Stories

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