Tools for forming relationships with storytelling

A discovery in the woods the short story by Graham Greene is on our Introduction to English literature course reading list.

I enjoyed the piece – it’s a fantasy-like story of children taking on a secret journey away from their own little village by the sea to discover something in the woods. Graham Greene is said to be “one of the masters of modern English fiction”.

I found this short story a bit dreamlike. I interpreted it being about children of a mystical future finding the old world (from now?). Is it Greene’s way of warning the world about the risk of destruction? There could be different interpretations but I read a review where the interpretation of the short story went as far as saying “it brings home the potential consequences of the Cold War more powerfully than anything else I have read on the subject”.

Graham Greene, born in 1904,  according to his publisher worked as a journalist and critic, became literary editor of the Spectator and wrote novels, collections of short stories, travel books, plays, autobiographies, books for children, essays, film and book reviews. That is why we are to familiarize ourselves with his work on the literary course.

The learning objective of the English introduction to literature course reads as follows:

Upon completion the student should be able to:

  • display general knowledge of broad periods in the history of English-language literature, and specific understanding of representative authors and texts
  • understand and articulate the differences between several major interpretative approaches to literature
  • offer personal readings of individual literary texts based on close reading and textual evidence

This course will offer students a broad overview of English literary history by presenting and analyzing a range of literary texts from different periods and nations. The course will thus combine elements of literary historical survey with the techniques of close reading and literary interpretation. The course will also introduce basic elements of literary theory.

To be able to say we have a specific understanding of representative authors and texts in broad periods in the history of English-language literature, we have read several short stories during the course. I wonder a bit why we haven’t been assigned novels? Maybe it isn’t necessary for the basic studies course? Short stories can be “representative” enough to just get an understanding of the representative texts for the period and nations we are studying?

Next up for me on the reading list is Carson McCullers short story The Sojourner. In our next weekend workshop coming up on Friday, we will be using literary analysis techniques on Greene’s and McCullers’ short stories as we meet.

After the workshop days coming up, (our last for this course) we all have the literary term paper to write, a literary analysis of 1200 words. There’s some work to do there because I haven’t yet picked the short story that I’m going to analyze.

For me, this gives valuable tools for teaching literature and helping people, young or old, to “form relationships with books”, like 7sistershomeschool.com Veteran Homeschool Mom says in her tips for teaching literature (Image below from Pinterest). As humans, we are all storytellers by nature and books are treasures we should teach our children to embrace. Let’s work to keep the storytelling tradition alive.

EDIT: Excellent Inspiring Video: TEACHING HIGH SCHOOL LITERATURE on 7sistersihh