How to Teach World Literature Without Books

Just as some of the other English courses that I’m handling here at Surigao Education Center, I also have come up with a World Literature instructional material that I and my World Literature students have been using during classes. I had it devised in 2008 with the help of some locally authored World Literature textbooks; had it submitted to our school’s academic review chair for evaluation and signature; filled out a form for it to be reproduced through risograph printing and then ring binding, before copies were made available for students at a reasonable price for use in World Literature classes. It’s kind of like one of the institution’s means of “generating income,” although I also get some part of it as “royalty.”

I had the instructional material devised with the following in mind:

At the end of the semester, students are expected to:

Cognitive Aim:

1. Explain what the country and its people are like through its literature;
2. identify literature of the world through famous literary figures; and
3. analyse famous literary pieces from each of the different literature of  the      nineteen countries.

Affective Aim:

1. Value the importance of knowing different countries and their people through  this course;
2. give importance to what makes each literature different from or similar  with the other; and
3. appreciate the wisdom imparted by the literature of the world more.

Psychomotor Aim:

1. Perform a famous  play of their own choice;
2. write a critical essay on a given literary piece; and
3. create a scrapbook showcasing each country’s literature’s most famous and distinctive literary figure and literary piece.

Values Aim:

1. Come by and develop social skills through group and pair work; and
2. manifest responsibility, self-discipline, cooperation and participation through class activities.

So when the material has already been made available in copies for use by students and instructor, classroom instruction went on really easy and stress-free only until review on the literary forms, their elements, and types which make up chapter one of the instructional material is over and done. When lessons got to some of the literature of the world (Saudi Arabia’s Arabian Nights, Greek Literature’s The Iliad, English Literature’s Hamlet, Russian Literature’s Crime & Punishment, French Literature’s Joan of Arc, German Literature in Schindler’s Arc, Latin American Literature’s Love in the Time of Cholera, as well as North American Literature’s The Legend of the Sleepy Hollow), instruction is still arduous notwithstanding the carefully devised instructional material. Although it includes each country’s literary background, when it comes to studying/analyzing/discussing the above-indicated countries’ famous/instructor-chosen literary output, the sessions get really difficult. This trouble is brought about by the unavailability of enough number of books (for instance, The Iliad by Homer) in our school’s library to accommodate the number of World Literature students simultaneously. Or worse, our small library, while it houses a number and a variety of reading materials, may not make some books available to students for it may only have one copy that can’t be taken out or no copy at all (like Schindler’s Arc by Thomas Keneally). This is one of those times when I get to wish for English classes in the States where English teachers/professors simply hand out books and/or novels to each of their students in the class to read as an assignment for the next session’s discussion. Like the ones I saw in some films particularly, if I’m not mistaken “Larry Crowne” starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts wherein the latter plays as a professor who handles a Speech class.

However, just as how I put an end to the tight spots I had in my other English classes in the past, difficulty has led me to think of ways and become more resourceful by getting on with my World Literature lessons and still achieve my objectives through materials (my collection of literary-based films) that are available:

Not enough Arabian Nights reading materials available for students’ Arabian Literature discussion preparation? Let them learn and at the same time enjoy Arabian Nights’ film adaptation of the same name. My students enjoyed at some of the funny scenes and were even enthusiastic during the discussion.

The Library has only one copy of Greek Literature’s “The Iliad”? Why not have a film showing of “Troy” starring Brad Pitt adapted from the Greek ancient epic poet, Homer’s “The Iliad” which has kind of a sequel called “The Odyssey,” also attributed to the epic poet himself.  Students will not only learn what the literary piece is all about but they will also be able, to in some way hone their conversational skills when they get to talk about the film with their friends.

No copy of Schindler’s Arc for German Literature that’s available? Tell the story in it more vividly through its film adaptation, “Schindler’s List.”

No copy of Latin American Literature’s Love in the Time of Cholera authored by the Nobel Prize for Literature winner, Gabriel Garcia Marquez;  of North American Literature’s The Legend of the Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving; of English Literature’s Hamlet by Shakespeare, of Russian Literature’s Crime & Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky; or French Literature’s Joan of Arc? Then it’s time for you to get resourceful too 🙂 I was, and I still am (at least in my preparation for January 2013 classes) by  TEACHING LITERATURE THROUGH LITERARY-BASED FILMS to make some World Literature sessions exciting, fun, and unforgettable for my students (not that I’m still teaching amidst the holidays 🙂 … just documenting a milestone in this so-called career). 🙂

More informative posts for your reading pleasure by clicking on the link below:


21 thoughts on “How to Teach World Literature Without Books

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