Grade Level: 11-12
Topic: Close Reading and Gothic Parody
Essential Questions: How does Austen’s use of satirical characterization, irony, and diction create a parodic work? How are parodies used to influence society’s view on a given topic?
Learning Objectives and Assessments
Objective: Students will use close reading skills in order to construct a parody of the Gothic scenes in Northanger Abbey.
– Formative: Gothic Parody Analysis Sheet
– Summative: Parody paragraphs on CommentPress at The Text of Northanger Abbey.org
Common Core State Standards
Content Area: English Language Arts
Standard: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including words with multiple meanings or language that is particularly fresh, engaging, or beautiful. (Include Shakespeare as well as other authors.)
Rationale: Students will analyze Jane Austen’s word choice and their impact on meaning and tone to understand how parody is developed and used in Northanger Abbey while making their own parodies. They will be able to exhibit their knowledge of Gothic tropes in the creation of their parodies that will exist alongside Austen’s original text.
Teaching and Learning Sequence
In this lesson, students will write parodies of different paragraphs within the CommentPress plug-in in order to understand how Gothic conventions embody the intertextuality of Northanger Abbey. Writing these micro-parodies alongside Austen’s prose will encourage students to utilize their close-reading skills and focus on specific tropes that Austen is using within her own parody.
Writing in this way will allow students to focus on a specific audience as well. The audience for their creative pieces will not just be the teacher. Instead, work is published within a public sphere where anyone can access it. On another level, students will be reading each others work which may change the audience of the writing from teacher to peers. Students should be encouraged to write with their peers and the Web in mind. Students should also keep in mind that the annotations they write and the parodies they contribute to The Text of Northanger Abbey.org will be shared with students, teachers, and professors from, potentially, around the world. Through their own work, students will not only be studying a novel for their high school English class, but will be contributing to the larger field of Austen studies. Additional reflection on the impact of publishing work in a public sphere will be used in Lesson 6.
Chapters that lend themselves well to this assignment are Chapters XX through Chapter XVI. While Catherine is staying at the Abbey with the Tilneys, Austen uses many Gothic tropes in order to demonstrate Catherine’s ignorance and explore the complexities of navigating textual and social conventions. Students may choose one of the instances in these chapters to write their mini-parodies on, which they will post in the corresponding comments section on The Text of Northanger Abbey.org website.
Students should also use the Gothic Parody Analysis Sheet. This graphic organizer may be especially helpful to students who struggle with translating the ideas of Gothic tropes to Northanger Abbey or who have trouble with finding instances of the Gothic to parody themselves. This three-column graphic organizer will help students visually translate Gothic tropes to Austen’s text, then brainstorm ways that they may parody Austen’s use of the tropes.
As students read this section of the novel, students should annotate the digital text. Students should not only be conversing with the text and reading like detectives for information concerning Gothic tropes, character development, and social conventions; but students should also be encouraged to engage in conversation with each other. The digital nature of the text allows for students to continue and deepen their learning outside of the classroom. As students read for homework, the conversation about Austen’s literature continues and provides a foundation from which to hold class discussion the next day. Encourage students to be liberal in their annotations, and talk to the text and one another.