Literature in the Media—Semester A
Literature is the media.
Literature is everywhere in media—in fact, it's actually a type of media itself. That's why we're starting this course with a deep dive into literature: everything from bestsellers to comics to Shakespeare. And of course, we'll spice it up with other types of media along the way. Our lessons will walk you through intros, readings, and Common Core-aligned activities designed to
- heighten your senses when it comes to reading. You'll never read the same way again.
- demonstrate the common patterns that run throughout all literature—and really, all media.
- make you think about the connections between bestselling literature and pop culture. In case you somehow missed 'em.
- teach you about the art of novel-to-film adaptations through everyone's favorite, Frankenstein.
- shake your brain with how much Shakespeare is in the media.
P.S. This is the first semester of a two-semester course. You can find Semester B here.
Unit 1. How to Read Well
If there's one takeaway from this unit, it should be this: in literature, everything matters. From the title of the book to the way an author describes his protagonist (and everything in between), reading well means looking at a text from all angles. By the end of the unit, you'll be analyzing everything you see…which is good, because it'll get you ready to actually analyze everything you see. That's right, Shmoopers: welcome to Literature in the Media.
Unit 2. One Myth to Rule Them All
This unit will walk you through the stages of the Hero's Journey, using a boatload of different texts (literature, TV shows, movies…the list goes on) to analyze the function and validity of the monomyth across all media.
Unit 3. Bestsellers: More Than Just the Text
No books fit more snugly in a Literature in the Media course than Bestsellers. These books are just made to be adapted into all forms—and in this unit, we'll scratch the surface of just why that is. And if you stick around (which you will), you'll read one for yourself. Break out the tissues, folks: it's The Fault in Our Stars.
Unit 4. From Novel to Film: the Art of the Adaptation
What's everyone's favorite medium? Say it with us: movies. In this unit, we'll look at movies right alongside books, by reading Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and then breaking out the popcorn as we take in the film.
Unit 5. The Return of The Tempest
Bring on the Shakespeare, folks. In this unit, we'll read The Tempest, focusing on all the ways it's been adapted into different media. Yeah, we're traveling back in time a bit, but Shakespeare's ideas couldn't be any more contemporary.
Unit 6. Worth a Thousand Words: Intro to Photography and Comics
In this unit, you'll swing by photography before learning some fancypants sequential art lingo, reading a few long-form comics, and thinking about comics as literature. Then you can decide for yourself: is a picture worth a thousand words?
Sample Lesson - Introduction
Lesson 8: Obi-Wan Kenobi is Dumbledore
If every myth has the same stages—like the call to adventure and montaging it up—then that means the same types of characters have to appear in those stages, right?
You'd better believe it.
For the monomyth to be "the only story you'll ever need," it must also feature the same characters at each step. And those reoccurring character types are called archetypes.
An archetype, in The Hero with a Thousand Faces sense, isn't a personality type, per se. It refers more to what to what a character does and how they function in a story. Just like every bank-robbing crew has the brain, the muscle, the beauty, and the wild card, every myth has similarly basic, functional archetypes. And by the end of the initiation phase, you're likely to have met all your archetypes. They appear when the story demands it—and the story almost always demands it during initiation.
This lesson will briefly draw your attention away from the monomyth to pore over character archetypes. You'll identify the different archetypes, think about how they function in the story, and ponder the age-old question:
If myths are reflective of culture, are archetypes, too?
We know—you've been dying to get the answer to that one.
Sample Lesson - Reading
Reading 2.8: "Archetypes in The Hero's Journey"
So the journey isn't just about steps—it's also about specific types of characters. These characters, called archetypes, are necessary to get the hero's rear in gear.
Step One: Head on over to our lit glossary definition of archetype.
Step Two: Now head back to Carl Jung's profile (remember that one?) and read his definition of archetype. Since he and JC were buds, we might as well confer with him, too.
Step Three: Now watch and marvel as puppets explain the seven archetypes of the monomyth.
It's like Sesame Street had a baby with J. Campbell.
Sample Lesson - Activity
Activity 2.8a: Examples
"I know what an archetype is!"
Hey, that's great. But can you pull the archetypes out of their stories and identify them?
Choose a character archetype—any of the seven from the puppet rendition. Now head over to the discussion board, and list 3 characters from contemporary fiction that fit your chosen archetype. And of course, explain why they fit. We're just looking for 100 words, but be specific.
Once you're done, peruse your classmates' responses and see if they came up with anything different. If you find any that you don't agree with, kindly tell them why.
Sample Lesson - Activity
Activity 2.8b: Arch-Typical
Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung conveniently made archetypes easily adaptable to any era. Your "frenemy?" Same archetype as that two-timing hunchback in the movie 300, the shape-shifter who complicates the plot.
Choose five characters. Any characters. From anything. The only requirement? Make sure each one represents a different archetype.
- Course Length: 18 weeks
- Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12
- Course Type: Honors
Just what the heck is a Shmoop Online Course?
Common Core Standards
The following standards are covered in this course:CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.1.1