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ELA 10: World Literature—Semester B

From ancient ideals to modern reflections, Shmoop's got the skinny on the stories of the world.

You've met the superheroes of the ancient world, you've pondered the glories of war, and you've cried along with Aristotle at Oedipus Rex. Get ready for your dreams to be shattered, Shmoopers, because this second semester of Shmoop's World Literature course takes us into the modern world to reflect on those ideals of old. Spoiler: the death and destruction of war is not quite as glorious in the 20th century.

This course provides readings and activities that introduce us to men who've turned into bugs, boys consumed by jealousy (tastes like chocolate, we hear), Holocaust survivors in the form of mice (say what?), and poets who've written odes to onions. It's getting real up in here.

In this course, we'll roll deep with the likes of All Quiet on the Western Front, Maus, Things Fall Apart, and Haroun and the Sea of Stories, and ask

  • how do you define a hero when you don't know who the enemy is?
  • how do cultures define their identities?
  • how does one deal with the realities of modern war?
  • what exactly should one do once turned into a bug?

And finally, we'll define that all-important question: what is the use of stories?

P.S. World Literature (ELA 10) is a two-semester course. You're looking at Semester B, but you can check out Semester A here.

Course Breakdown

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Unit 9. All Quiet on the Western Front

What happens when a bunch of European countries with idealistic visions of war gain modern technology? Mass death and disillusionment. Oh, and Erich Maria Remarque's masterpiece All Quiet on the Western Front. You'll read the novel in this unit.

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Unit 10. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, or "Bug Off!"

In this unit, you'll read Franz Kafka's novella The Metamorphosis and witness not only the transformation of a guy into a bug, but the transformation of the modern novel.

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Unit 11. A Separate Peace

Everyone loves a good boarding school story. Dead Poet's Society, anyone? That's why you'll explore the coming of age novel through John Knowles' A Separate Peace and Graham Greene's short story "The Destructors."

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Unit 12. Maus in a Cage

In this unit, you'll go a little off the beaten path by reading Maus, a graphic novel about the Holocaust. What better way to process the horror than through mice, cats, and dogs?

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Unit 13. Things Fall Apart

Get ready to travel out of Europe to Africa...which has been colonized by Europe. In this unit, you'll read Chinua Achebe's exploration of colonial Africa in Things Fall Apart.

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Unit 14. Livin' it Up in Latin America

It's a Latin American extravaganza in this unit on Latin American authors Gabriel Garciá Márquez, Octavio Paz, Pablo Neruda, and Sandra Cisneros. After a few speeches and stories, you'll learn about Latinos in America with House on Mango Street.

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Unit 15. Nectar in a Sieve

We return to a very different India from the one we met in the first semester of this course with Kamala Markandaya's Nectar in a Sieve.

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Unit 16. Haroun and the Sea of Stories

This unit on Haroun and the Sea of Stories brings the course full circle by (re)asking the question "Why do we like stories?" Hint: it's not because they have wizards and unlikely heroes in them.


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  • Course Length: 18 weeks
  • Course Number: 210
  • Grade Levels: 9, 10
  • Course Type: Basic
  • Category:
    • English
    • Literature
  • Prerequisites:
    ELA 10: World Literature—Semester A

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