World Literature and Composition - Brother Richard Kovatch
In recent years, I taught English IV: World Literature / Composition and Research. We covered much of the traditional survey of World and British Literature. However, the common thread I used throughout the course was the image of journey. We studied heroes from Gilgamesh to Holden Caulfield and discussed not only what each hero learned on his/her journey but, more importantly, what each student learned about him/herself from each hero. Aristotle’s maxim that “art mirrors life” was at the heart of every discussion and essay.
My approach in class discussions and essay assignments has been influenced by Sidney B. Simon’s Values Clarification (Simon, Howe, and Kirschenbaum. Values Clarification: A Handbook for Practical Strategies for Students and Teachers. New York: Hart, 1972). My format for essay-writing has been influenced by Lucille Vaughan Payne’s The Lively Art of Writing (Chicago: Follett, 1975). I had students use the MLA format for documentation in their essays, which was helpful in preparing them to write a research paper (Gibadli and Achterts, eds. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. New York: Modern Language Association, 1991).
Early in the year, I give students the following handout and go over it with them. During the year, I give them similar directions/suggestions that are specific for each assignment, based on the work we have read. I have included here samples of essay directions for Gilgamesh, Beowulf, The Thirteenth Warrior, The Little Prince, Catcher in the Rye, and Rebel without a Cause.