Approaches to Teaching Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” and “The Secret Sharer”

  • Editors: Hunt Hawkins, Brian W. Shaffer
  • Pages: xiii & 195 pp.
  • Published: 2003
  • ISBN: 9780873529037 (Paperback)
Approaches to Teaching Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" and "The Secret Sharer" Cover
Paperback ($19.75)

“The essays are well chosen, practical, and remarkably personal. They show instructors dealing with a range of students in a variety of course types. A very useful volume that addresses the needs of these widely taught, difficult, seminal works.”

—Raymond Brebach, Drexel University

Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” and “The Secret Sharer” are among the most taught and studied works of twentieth-century British fiction. Noted for their psychological depth and stylistic artistry, the two stories have been celebrated as exemplars of modernism. They have also given rise to controversy. Scholars have debated whether “Heart of Darkness” is a critique of British imperialism or a paean to it. In 1975, Chinua Achebe condemned the novella’s author as racist, a charge that has provoked much discussion.

This volume, like others in the MLA series Approaches to Teaching World Literature, is divided into two parts. Part 1, “Materials,” gives editions, criticism, and resources available to the instructor of these two complex texts. Part 2, “Approaches,” contains essays that treat historical contexts, such as slavery and the ivory trade in the Congo of the 1890s; examine literary issues, such as Conrad’s use of the unreliable narrator; discuss the place of gender and race in the stories; tell of students’ responses in a variety of public and private institutions; and explore specific pedagogical methods, including the use of films such as Coppola’s Apocalypse Now in the classroom.