Novels in History Classes: Teaching the Historical Context
This essay offers several strategies and approaches for teaching novels in history courses and reflects practical, in-class experiences gained over the course of nine years of teaching college-level history.
Instructors at all levels are being encouraged to teach writing in their courses, even in subjects other than English. Because the novel reflects a broad set of human experiences and history, it is the ideal vehicle for learning about a wide range of issues. This book helps educators learn how to incorporate novels in courses in English, the humanities, social and behavioral sciences, and professional studies. The chapters focus on using the novel to explore ethical concerns, multiculturalism, history, social theory, psychology, social work, and education. The book looks at major canonical works as well as graphic novels and popular literature. Language arts are at the forefront of education these days. Instructors at all levels are being encouraged to teach writing in their courses, even if those courses cover subjects other than English. Literature instructors have long used fiction to teach composition. But because the novel reflects a broad range of human experiences and historical events, it is the ideal medium for learning about contemporary social issues. This book helps educators learn how to use the novel in courses in English, the humanities, social and behavioral sciences, and professional studies. The book is divided into broad sections on general education classes; multiculturalism; literature classes; humanities courses; classes in social, behavioral, and political sciences; and professional studies, such as social work and teacher training. Each section includes chapters written by gifted teachers and provides a wealth of theoretical and practical information. While the book examines major canonical works such as Hard Times, Billy Budd, and Invisible Man, it also looks at graphic novels, science fiction, and popular contemporary works such as Finishing School and Jarhead. Chapters reflect the personal successes of their authors and cite works for further reading.
Schroeder, Gregory F. “Novels in History Classes: Teaching the Historical Context.” In Teaching the Novel across the Curriculum: A Handbook for Educators, edited by Colin C. Irvine, 204-218. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood, 2008.