So I’m going to start a post where we can share some of the directions we’re going with the essential questions for the units you’re planning for this course. I’ll start the post with my own current thoughts (and update as things become more clear for me). I’d encourage you to respond in the comments below by sharing your own thoughts (at the least) and then adding to any others’ ideas as you see fit.
I’m starting with the anchor text, in this case Frankenstein, and developing an essential question from that novel. Here’s what I’m thinking of now:
- My first inclination is to go with something about the power of creation, how we all (both as individuals and as a society in general) have the God-like power to create things. But with that comes a great responsibility (I think of Spiderman and the famous line from his origin story: “With great power comes great responsibility.”) Our advanced knowledge can create amazing devices like smartphones and destructive devices like the atomic bomb, but we don’t often give enough thought to the implications of how we use that power. I’m always bothered, reading this book, at the way Victor simply abandons his creation and feels no real loyalty to it until he’s forced (through his disgust at what the monster has become) to destroy it. I suspect there’s a lot of philosophical thinking we could engage in relative to this question, and many connections to contemporary issues in our society. So the question might be: “In what ways are we creators like Victor? What responsibilities come with this power?”
- The Frankenstein story is one that has been adapted and reused multiple times since Shelley first created it; the story of Victor and his monster has reappeared in countless varieties and seems now to have a life of its own. I’d love to study some of these adaptations as a way of getting at the core of this story and why it continues to speak to us in varied and important ways. We could look at adaptations that are more faithful to the original story (like film adaptations that essentially seek to “retell” the story) as well as adaptations that take more license with characters and events but seek to retain something of the spirit of the story (like Frankenweenie or Weird Science or David Almond’s book Clay). In looking at these adaptations, I’m thinking of a possible question like: “What happens to a story when it’s adapted into other forms? What is it about Frankenstein that lends itself to such frequent adaptation?”
I’m open to any ideas you might have about my unit and essential questions, and I’ll update this post as I come up with things like an assessment and linked text sets.
In the comments below, please post your unit ideas and I would encourage all of us to respond and engage with additional ideas or responses so we can help each other in the planning process.