Teaching Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five

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In preparing this commentary, I asked a former student to proofread and chime in! Jenni Gish is a 17 year-old senior; her comments are in blue. 

I’ve been teaching Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five in my Advanced Placement Literature course for three years. This year (2016) was the best experience yet. My AP class, open to 11th and 12th-grade students, reads Slaughterhouse Five at the start of the second semester, after we’ve already read Dante, Shakespeare, Shelley, and reams of poetry. They’ve been well-trained in college-level reading skills and are adept at discussing a variety of literary techniques. They’ve also come to trust me enough to speak openly and freely about their reactions to anything we read, which is necessary when discussing Slaughterhouse Five.

Jenni: It’s important to have an open discussion. Teenagers have so many thoughts and questions that we feel we can’t talk about. They have to be addressed! It helps to have a safe environment to express this “loss, grief, and trauma”!KEEP READING

5 Reasons to Teach Watchmen

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Widely considered the Citizen Kane of graphic novels, Alan Moore & Dave Gibbon’s mid-80’s masterwork Watchmen offers tremendous value to the AP Lit classroom.  Yes, there are superheroes and costumes.  Yes, there are panels and word balloons.  Yes, the violence is plentiful and the themes adult.  And yes, the color pallette feels dated. (It was the 1980s — forgive them.)  Beyond the aesthetics, one finds a deeply complex, multilayered narrative thick with allusions, symbolism, archetype and an exploration of the same themes found in more traditional texts.  Here are five reasons to consider adopting Watchmen into your AP Lit reading lists.

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