Approaches to Teaching Camus’s The Plague

  • Editor: Steven G. Kellman
  • Pages: x & 133 pp.
  • Published: 1985
  • ISBN: 9780873524858 (Cloth)
  • ISBN: 9780873524865 (Paperback)
Approaches to Teaching Camus's The Plague Cover

Thirty-five years ago Germaine Brée wrote that The Plague “is, within its limits, a great novel, the most disturbing, most moving novel yet to have come out of the chaos of the mid-century.” Even though Camus’s place within the literary canon has fluctuated over the last four decades, he remains a rare phenomenon: a foreign writer widely read in the United States and easily accessible to and popular with students. In high schools and colleges, The Plague is taught in courses on literature, language, philosophy, theology, political science, and history.

The volume, like others in the MLA’s Approaches to Teaching World Literature series, is divided into two parts. The first part, “Materials,” reviews French and English editions of The Plague and of other works by Camus, reference works, background studies, and audiovisual aids. In the second part, “Approaches,” Germaine Brée’s prologue reflecting on Camus’s career in North American academe is followed by essays suggesting ways to present The Plague in the classroom. The first essay situates The Plague in a world literature survey; the next ten contributors discuss teaching the novel in courses on French literature; in the study of philosophy, law, and medicine; and within the novel’s historical, biographical, and geographical contexts. A final essay by Mary Ann Caws offers personal observations on the relevance of Camus’s oeuvre.