Elizabeth Bennet Goes to Apollo: Reinventing Pride and Prejudice in the High School Classroom

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English Language and Literature


When I began telling others of my desire to teach Pride and Prejudice to high school students, I didn’t receive resounding support. In fact, the second person I bragged to was my peer and fellow pre-service teacher, Nick. He scoffed, “It’s boring, Amy.” Although I felt like he had knocked me across the face with Austen’s novel, Nick made me realize that many of my students would have similar reactions to the eighteenth-century text. I had to seriously evaluate why I was teaching a predominantly female, narrowly focused, historically and culturally distant, and syntactically challenging text to a diverse classroom made up of various demographics, genders, and twenty-first century high school students. “Elizabeth Bennet Goes to Apollo” outlines the objections to and the theoretical and practical reasons why Pride and Prejudice should be taught in the high school classroom to diverse students. I argue for using the novel as a distant mirror to examine and reflect on students’ own cultural norms and ideologies. My argument can be used to support the teaching of similar, classic texts in high school so that teachers and students can dispel potential “boredom” and become active, critical meaning-makers of textual and contemporary ideologies.