Category Archives: World Literature

Seasons of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih

Salih, Tayeb. Season of Migration to the North. Trans. Laila Lalami. New York: New York Review, 2009. Print.

The themes that surround the conflict in Season of Migration to the North are loss of identity, loss of home, and loss of reality. I believe the main conflict is that the protagonist is unaware of the connection between his between two worlds. Physically, in the sense he leaves his village, enters western civilization, and then comes back. He in between the old traditions he was raised with and contemporary life in the west. His mental state of mind is also in the middle of two psyches, two personalities. Hence, he is searching for an identity he can call his own. Furthermore, because he is stuck in the middle of these two mental and physical worlds he is unable to live in the moment. He is stuck inside his own mind and perception, which prevents him from moving forward and embracing others with compassion. He is obsessed with learning about the village killer Mufasa. The protagonist is infatuated by Mufasa’s intelligence and legacy. The closer the narrator, and or protagonist, gets inside of a psychotic mind, the more it is believed Mufasa is actually the narrator’s alter ego.  He does love Mufasa’s wife, Husna, but he does not pursue her. The reader is left with an ambiguous ending and wonders if the protagonist was Mufasa the entire time.

A blog from The Guardian, “Reading literary fiction improves empathy, study finds”  parallels to the reading of Seasons of Migration to the North on two levels. One, the narrator’s alter ego, or other self is a narcissistic murderer. The conversation of gaining empathy and psychological illness is relevant to his lack of empathy and unstable psychological characteristics. Two, a modern conversation about the positive influence literary fiction has on humanity, and in this blog a young man speaks about his experience reading literary fiction.

The young man, Kidd states,

“Transferring the experience of reading fiction into real-world situations was a natural leap, Kidd argued, because “the same psychological processes are used to navigate fiction and real relationships. Fiction is not just a simulator of a social experience, it is a social experience.”

I think teaching Seasons of Migrations to the North to a classroom full of adolescent readers may be challenging. But, a way to avoid a student’s resistance or interest in this novella is to pair it with something the student can relate to. With that said, the current topic “Reading literary fiction improves empathy, study finds” and the young man, Kidd’s perspective on literary fiction may open their minds.

Similar to “The Yellow Wallpaper,” I would expect the students to use selective highlighting while they read. Especially, because Seasons of Migration to the North is not structured in linear time. Each chapter jumps in time drastically with the narrator’s psyche. I would specifically ask the students to highlight moments where the protagonist’s mood or perspective has changed.

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

Hermann. Siddhartha. Trans. Rosner, Hilda. Toronto: Bantam, 1971. Print.

Hermann Hesse, a German author, was raised by his father, a Pietist Lutheran. Hesse dismissed his father’s radical beliefs in western religion and  decided to study eastern spirituality. As he studied religion in Asia and the Middle East, he wrote Siddhartha and published it in 1922.  The relationship between the protagonist, Siddhartha, and his father resemble Hesse’s personal experience. Siddhartha is compared to his father and expected to be a successful leader in his home village. This spiritual journey takes place in ancient India and Siddhartha moves through the motions of his traditional religion. He is committed to his spiritual journey: a religious quest for enlightenment.  A major internal conflict arises between his desire for reason and his desire for spiritual enlightenment. His goal is to land in a place of religious peace. He is an outcast among the other spiritual seekers, because he does not hesitate to question religious explanations.  Siddartha is not prideful, but he is a logical man. His passionate drive to religious clarity, is challenged as he consistently disagrees with his spiritual mentors, including Buddha. Further down the road of Siddhartha’s spiritual journey, he learns patients. His spiritual lessons near the river guide him to an awakening. At the end of his quest, he achieves enlightenment and evolves into a spiritual leader and teacher.

Hesse creates a meditative, and prayerful, tone with heightened language close to Siddhartha’s prayerful, yet logical state of mind.

Dreams in a Time of War by Ngugi wa Thiong’o

“Even when not reading it, I can hear the music. The choice and arrangements of the words, the cadence, I can’t pick any one thing that makes it so beautiful and long-lived in my memory. I realize that even written words can carry the music I loved in stories; it is a descriptive statement. It does not carry an illustration. It is a picture in itself and yet more than a picture and a description. It is music. Written words can also sing”(Thiong’o 65).

Thinong’o, Ngugi Wa. Dreams in a Time of War: A Childhood Memoir. New York: Anchor, 2011. Print.

In this scene, Ngugi is describing “a drawing of a man, an ax on the ground, his face grimacing with pain as he holds his left knee in both hands, drops of blood trickling down”(64). Ngugi is also describing the words in the caption below the drawing is describing what he sees based on his senses: what he hears and sees. “One day, I start hearing music in the words,” he is metaphorically hearing the music and describing the music and the words together. In my own writing, I would like to try and take something concrete, like a descriptive statement, and show its beauty through my senses. For example, what does this cup of coffee smell like, taste like, and sound like in the context of my overall piece?

What is a poetic device and can it be used in prose?
Key terms to define:
1. Metaphor
2. Simile
3. Personification
4. Alliteration

Ngugi also transitions nicely throughout Dreams in a Time of War. At times, my writing can seem “dream-like” because it is fragmented in terms of structure. Ngugi is using his memory and imagination in this memoir but the structure is not fragmented (like memories and imagination can be). For example page 96-97 he transitions from one chapter to the next nicely. Ngugi is told by his father to leave and to stop playing with the other children. His father wanted him and his brother to follow his mother. “We did not have a chance to say farewell to the other children and tell them that we had been banished from their company and from the place that up to then had defined our lives. But before leaving home, I was able to dash into my mother’s hut to retrieve my school material, among which was my beloved torn copy of stories from the Old Testament”(96). The next chapter begins with, “The expulsion was, if not from paradise, from the only place I had known”(97). Here, he is using a concrete object, the Old Testament, to transition with a metaphoric image of “paradise.” He is comparing the idea of his expulsion of home to the expulsion of paradise and because he previously gave a concrete image of the Old Testament the transition reads clearly.

Questions for an In-class Discussion:
Where does Ngugi Thinong’o use poetic devices in his memoir? How does his use of poetic devices serve the image in the text?
How does the author use concrete descriptions and metaphors as a transition between scenes?

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. New York: Riverhead, 2003. Print.

Khaled Hosseini grew up in Afghanistan and moved to the United States  in 1984. He started writing The Kite Runner in 2001 during the U.S. war in Afghanistan.  Amir, the protagonist, is a young man from a wealthy family growing up in Afghanistan. Amir’s mother passed away while giving birth to Amir. Amir is convinced that his father, Baba, believes he is responsible for his mother’s death. He cannot let go of his mother’s death or the past because he feels guilty. He deeply desires his father’s approval and compassion. As a young boy, Amir grows accustom to getting his way except for his father’s approval. His selfish attitude leads him to betray his servant friend, Hassan, and he makes a decision he will forever regret. While playing a game called kite running, he runs after Hassan and finds Hassan in an alley getting raped. Instead of defending his friend, he runs away, to protect himself, and pretends he didn’t see. Although he was not attacked personally, he lives in pain unable to escape the guilt for not defending Hassan. Eventually, Amir and Baba are forced to leave home and escape the Soviet invasion. After Amir departs his home, he faces more traumatic events. At the end of the novel, he experiences adulthood and has a family of his own. He reveals his loyalty through being an honorable lover and builds a family full of strong relationships.

It is important for students to understand the context of The Kite Runner in comparison to Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Based on the political events present place in each novel, students should create a venn diagram. This will benefit their comprehension of each narrative and the protagonists. For example, compare and contrast the political influence on each protagonist’s personal life. Also, compare and contrast each protagonist’s way of coping with trauma and loss. Hopefully, comparing the two novels based on political influence and the traumatic consequences, students will realize the perspectives of a young man living in America and a young man raised in Afghanistan. After creating the venn diagram, students are responsible for writing a compare and contrast essay answering the following questions.

1. Both, Oskar and Amir struggle coping with guilt. Compare and contrast three different moments that show each protagonist overwhelmed by guilt and explain how they move on from it.

2. Compare and contrast the relationship between Oskar and his father and Amir and Baba. Although Oskar’s father has passed away, how does he influence Oskar in the present and how does Baba continue to influence Amir?

3. Oskar and Amir live in two different countries with conflicting political views. Compare and contrast the setting for both Oskar and Amir. Explain how setting plays a part in the decisions both protagonists make.

Age Range: 14- Young Adult (+19)

The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi

pinocchio-coverThe Adventures of Pinocchio. Trans. Brock, Geoffrey. Introduction. By Umberto Eco. Afterward. By Rebecca West. New York: New York Review of Books, 2009. Print.

The New York Book Review Books published the original, and translated, version of, the Italian author, Carlo Collodi’s  Pinnochio. It was originally published as a children’s book in 1883. The protagonist, Pinocchio, is a wooden puppet built by his creator, the carpenter. Once Pinocchio acquires his voice, he realizes his freedom and runs away from the carpenter, Geppetto. Pinocchio is portrayed as disobedient for running away and throughout his journey he encounters various fairytale-like characters. Each character represents a moral choice and Pinocchio decisions teach him moral lessons via trail and error. Eventually, after Pinocchio begins to understand the differences between right and wrong, he becomes a human being. This original version of Pinocchio, reveals Collodi’s political perspective of modern Italy  during the nineteenth century.

pinocchioThe Adventures of Pinocchio has passed through many adaptations and the most common is the Walt Disney version. Compared to the adapted Walt Disney version, the character Pinocchio is difficult to sympathize with. In the adaptation, Disney recreates Pinocchio as innocent.  Also, in the original narrative, Pinocchio is brutally humiliated and nearly killed.  At the end of the story he is saved by the fairy with turquoise hair, a motherly figure, and transformed into a human boy. Disney, does not show this motherly figure. The carpenter is Pinocchio’s only parental figure, according to Disney.

Along with introducing the genre picaresque, The Adventures of Pinocchio would be interesting to teach with the approach of understanding adaptation: from text to film. Ideally, I would pair the students and assign them with a scene from the text. Then, a handout would be provided with questions for them to anticipate what to look for.

Before viewing the film the students would answer the following questions based on their assigned scene.

1. Who are the characters?

2. What is the setting and time period?

3. What is the mood?

4. What are the themes?

url24After viewing the film, the students would answer questions to compare and contrast the text and the film. A Venn Diagram could be helpful as well.

1. What was similar or different about your scene in the text and your scene in the film?

2. Is this how you imagined the scene? Explain.

3. What did you like about the film adaptation? Give an example.

4. What did you dislike about the film adaptation? Give an example.

For a class discussion, I would ask, “Why do filmmakers or screenwriters make major changes in adapting literary work to film?”

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. Reprint ed. New York: Scholastic, 2010. Print.

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, is a contemporary dystopian novel originally released in 2008. The reading level ranges between grades 5-9. Collins creates a new society that consists of the capital and districts. Two people are picked from each district to fight until death: a statement towards war. The protagonist, Katniss is a hero as she volunteers for the games and her actions break the rules of society. She is also a rebel because she shows empathy for humanity. The classic dystopian control is evident because the games are televised and everyone is watching.

After reading The Hunger Games, student will be asked to summarize the way Collins illustrates this dystopia. This exercise allows the students to practice summary-writing and specifically use the academic language for summary. A few examples of summary language are, “Overall…,” “In this text, Collins illustrates a dystopia that…,”and “To support Collins’ perspective on societal controls, she provides evidence in her dystopia to…” The purpose of summary writing is to benefit the student’s reading comprehension, ability to process information, and improve writing skills by using academic vocabulary.

For an in-class group project, students can either construct a diorama, a three-dimensional scene capturing characters and setting, or create a comic book from a specific scene, including the illustration of characters, setting, and dialogue. The purpose of this in-class group assignment is to allow collaboration in the classroom, benefit reading comprehension via visual learning, and evaluate the student’s understanding of the text. This group project can also be used as an alternative assessment. Students can be graded individually, and, or overall as a group.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

dracula book cover

Stoker, Bram. Dracula. Thrift ed. Mineola: Dover, 2000. Print.

In Dracula, Stoker uses the nineteenth century Gothic Horror Fiction genre to expose his readers to a different, yet familiar world. Dracula can also be classified as dystopian fiction because the setting of Transylvania is a fantasy universe. Furthermore, this universe is built to question the societal controls in the nineteenth century and illustrate a dichotomy between traditional and modern values. The character, Dracula is a vampire and desires to regain the power his family lost outside of Transylvania, in modern England. Dracula introduces the the anxieties of society in the late nineteenth century: a questioning of sex, religion, and science. The reading level ranges between grades 9-12.

In-class interactive exercises:

A Creative Writing Prompt: Create a journal entry from the perspective of Count Dracula. Take Count Dracula out of the world Stoker creates and place Dracula in modern time. In this journal entry Dracula is reflecting on his trip to the grocery store. Keep in mind, his mental and physical characteristics, his gestures, desires, fears, and the way he interacts with others.

The purpose of this exercise is to give young readers the opportunity to practice free-writing, explore their creativity, and identify the main character’s traits. As they are challenged to pull Dracula out of this dystopia and into modern day, they will realize the difference, or maybe similarities, between the outlook on society in the nineteenth century and today.

Following the creative writing prompt, students are asked to read their writing out loud to the class. The rest of the class will be responsible for listening and taking note of at least one sentence from the reading they enjoyed the most. The listeners will answer one of the following questions as they take notes on their peer’s reading.

1. Identify at least one of Dracula’s physical characteristics.

2. Describe Dracula’s mood in the journal entry.

3. Analyze Dracula’s gestures and desires that are described.

World Literature

Camus, Albert. The Stranger. S.l.: Vintage International, 1989. Print.

Seasons of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih

Salih, Tayeb. Season of Migration to the North. Trans. Laila Lalami. New York: New York Review, 2009. Print.

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

Hermann. Siddhartha. Trans. Rosner, Hilda. Toronto: Bantam, 1971. Print.

Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, Umberto Eco, Geoffery Brock, and Rebecca West

Pinocchio. Trans. Brock, Geoffrey. Introduction. By Umberto Eco. Afterward. By Rebecca West. New York: New York Review of Books, 2009. Print.



A Young Woman’s Migration & Realizing Identity

I decided to pair Persepolis, the graphic novel, with Persepolis, the film in order to show similar ways of analysing different types of new media narratives.


Persepolis, the Graphic Novel by Marjane Satrapi

Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood. First American ed. United States: Pantheon, 2004. Print.

Marjane Satrapi tells her autobiographical story, first in the form of a graphic novel.  Satrapi’s story begins in the perspective of herself as a little girl and it continues until she is a young adult living during the Islamic War. The older young Marjane becomes, the more she becomes a fighter. At times, she is judged by the other women in her community, specifically the nuns at school. She is known as a troublemaker and rebellious, but those characteristics give her ambition and the strength of a fighter. She stands up for what is right during times of chaos and violence.

Students can analyze a graphic novel based on layout, figures, or text. provides a handout that defines the basic graphic novel terms.

1. Layout

Panel:  A distinct segment of the comic, containing a combination of image and text in endless variety. Panels offer a different experience then simply reading text:

• The spatial arrangement allows an immediate juxtaposition of the present and the past.

• Unlike other visual media, transitions are instantaneous and direct but the exact timing of the reader’s experience is determined by focus and reading speed.

Frame: The lines and borders that contain the panels.

Gutter: The space between framed panels.

Bleed: An image that extends to and/or beyond the edge of the page.

Foreground: The panel closest to the viewer.

Midground: Allows centering of image by using natural resting place for vision. The artist
deliberately decides to place the image where a viewer would be most likely to look first. Placing an image off-center or near the top or bottom can be used to create visual tension but using the midground permits the artist to create a more readily accepted image.

Background: Provides additional, subtextual information for the reader.

Graphic weight: A term that describes the way some images draw the eye more than others, creating a definite focus using color and shading in various ways including:

• The use of light and dark shades; dark-toned images or high-contrast images draw the eye more than light or low-contrast images do

• A pattern or repeated series of marks

• Colors that are more brilliant or deeper than others on the page

2. Figures

Faces: Faces can be portrayed in different ways. Some depict an actual person, like a portrait; others are iconic, which means they are representative of an idea or a group of people. Other points to observe about faces include:
• They can be dramatic when placed against a detailed backdrop; a bright white face stands out
• They can be drawn without much expression or detail; this is called an “open blank” and it
invites the audience to imagine what the character is feeling without telling them.
Hands/Feet: The positioning of hands and feet can be used to express what is happening in the story. For example, hands that are raised with palms out suggest surprise. The wringing of hands suggests obsequiousness or discomfort. Hands over the mouth depict fear, shame, or shyness. Turned in feet may denote embarrassment, while feet with motion strokes can create the sense of panic, urgency, or speed.

3. Text

Captions: These are boxes containing a variety of text elements, including scene-setting,
description, etc.
Speech balloons: These enclose dialogue and come from a specific speaker’s mouth; they vary in size, shape, and layout and can alternate to depict a conversation. Types of speech balloons include those holding:
• External dialogue, which is speech between characters
• Internal dialogue, which is a thought enclosed by a balloon that has a series of dots or bubbles going up to it
Special-effects lettering: This is a method of drawing attention to text; it often highlights onomatopoeia and reinforces the impact of words such as bang or wow.

read write think



As an in-class activity, students should practice analyzing the graphic novel with the appropriate terms so the teacher can determine the overall comprehension of the genre. Student’s would benefit from practicing these terms with a partner.

1. Use the graphic novel visual terms to analyze the three panels in sequence.

2. Use a graphic organizer to list an observation for at least three terms.

2. Analyze the development of theme by identifying the specific motifs and symbols.

Panel # 1










Panel # 2



Panel # 3











Marjane Satrapi speaks about her experiences with storytelling in different ways. She classifies Persepolis as her autobiography, because the events are true and then, she crafts the narrative. It is also interesting to note, she did not want to make the adapted film of Persepolis. 

Questions for students viewing the interview:

1. Predict the way the author feels about creating a story within a particular genre and do you think that drama could be limiting to the author?

2. Is the author lying if he/she classifies her story as non-fiction, but everything in the story is not 100 percent true? Or, if the author classifies his/her story as fiction, but uses a few real life experiences?

3. Why is adaptation dangerous?

4. What perspective did Marjane Satrapi write from?

Persepolis, the Film directed by Marjane Satrapi & Vincent Paronnaud

Persepolis. Dir. Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud. Sony Pictures, 2008. DVD.



813B3KiPUML._SL1500_Create a Film Review pencil-and-paper-clipart-paper_and_a_pen_0515-0909-2116-0233_SMU


Assignment: Write a film review on Persepolis. Focus on the dramatic and literary parts of the film.
Keep in mind: Do not forget to use the language for analysing cinematography. Such as a close-up, or fade-out. The audience you are writing to has never viewed Persepolis before. Your review will be the audiences first impression of the film.
1. Your review must start off with a hook.
2. The next paragraph should written as a summary of the film. Do not forget to paraphrase.
3. The third paragraph dives into your analysis of the film.
4. In the fourth paragraph, evaluate.
5. The last paragraph is your conclusion.