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Approaches to Teaching Defoe's Robinson Crusoe

Editor(s): Maximillian E. Novak, Carl Fisher

Pages: xxii & 243 pp.
Published: 2005
ISBN: 9780873529174 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780873529167 (hardcover)

"This volume offers teachers of a wide variety of students an array of thematic, formal, and ideological approaches with an inventive mix of classroom strategies."
Cynthia Wall
University of Virginia


Long a centerpiece of eighteenth-century literary studies and a significant influence on the fiction of its day, Defoe's Robinson Crusoe remains a standard text for teaching the period and continues to inspire popular adaptations and imitations, from children's books to adventure films to reality TV. In teaching the work, instructors are challenged to separate the popular images of Crusoe from the text and its two sequels, creating distance from the myth without losing sight of why it is so powerful. Students need guidance in recognizing the way the novel blends genres--romance, travel tale, spiritual biography, diary, economic and political allegory--and in judging the character of Crusoe, a topic that has elicited much scholarly debate. The essays in this volume offer classroom tested strategies that address these and many other concerns.

Part 1, "Materials," describes the novel's publishing history, its critical reputation, its fictional predecessors, and its stature as an international text. It also surveys modern editions, scholarly biographies, and relevant Web sites and provides a brief biography of Defoe. Essays in part 2, "Approaches," focus on genres such as travel writing and conduct books; consider how ideas about individualism, education, science, masculinity, and race helped shape Defoe's trilogy; trace the themes of the colonial experience in castaway narratives and Robinsonades; and show how the Crusoe story unfolds in later periods, in J. M. Coetzee's Foe, Derek Walcott's poetry, children's literature, and film.

Contributors
Paula R. Backscheider
John Barberet
Timothy C. Blackburn
Richard Braverman
Anne Chandler
Carl Fisher
George E. Haggerty
Roxanne Kent-Drury
Anne Lundin
Robert Maniquis
Robert Markley
Robert Mayer
Cheryl L. Nixon
Maximillian E. Novak
Charles W. Pollard
Christina Sassi-Lehner
Gordon Sayre
Manuel Schonhorn
Geoffrey Sill
Laura M. Stevens
Roxann Wheeler
Matthew Wickman
Everett Zimmerman

Table of Contents

PART 1: MATERIALS
Maximillian E. Novak and Carl Fisher

Publishing History and Modern Editions

Daniel Defoe: A Brief Biography

The Critical Reputation of Robinson Crusoe and Its Status as a Novel

Scholarly Biographies

Crusoe's Fictional Predecessors

Robinson Crusoe as an International Text: Translation, Circulation, and Adaptation

Internet Resources

PART 2: APPROACHES

Defoe and the History of English Narrative

Teaching The Pilgrim's Progress and Robinson Crusoe
Robert Maniquis

Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver's Travels
Richard Braverman

Robinson Crusoe's Parodic Intertextuality
Roxanne Kent-Drury and Gordon Sayre

Weber, Watt, and Restraint: Robinson Crusoe and the Critical Tradition
Manuel Schonhorn

Intellectual and Ideological Contexts
Defoe, Franklin, and Whitman
Geoffrey Sill

Crusoe among the Travelers
Paula R. Backscheider

The Construction of Masculinity in Robinson Crusoe
George Haggerty

Robinson Crusoe and Early-Eighteenth-Century Racial Ideology
Roxann Wheeler

Teaching the Crusoe Trilogy
Robert Markley

Formal and Thematic Approaches

Robinson Crusoe as Literary Art
Timothy Blackburn

A Comparative Formal Approach to Castaway Narratives
John Barberet

A Semester on Crusoe's Island
Matthew Wickman

Comparative and Intertextual Approaches

The Robinsonade
Carl Fisher

The Female American and Female Robinsonades
Laura M. Stevens

Colonial Adventure and Social Disintegration
Everett Zimmerman

Contemporary Responses to Robinson Crusoe
Charles W. Pollard

Robinson Crusoe in Hollywood
Robert Mayer

Classroom Contexts for Robinson Crusoe

Teaching Robinson Crusoe in an Introduction to Literature Course
Christina Sassi-Lehner

Robinson Crusoe as Introduction to Literary Analysis
Anne Chandler

Is There Room for Robinson Crusoe in an English-Literature Survey Course?
Carl Fisher

Teaching Robinson Crusoe in a Survey of the Novel Course
Maximillian E. Novak

Robinson Crusoe and Children's Literature
Anne Lundin

Teaching Robinson Crusoe at a Business School
Cheryl L. Nixon

Works Cited

Index




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