Approaches to Teaching Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe

  • Editors: Maximillian E. Novak, Carl Fisher
  • Pages: xxii & 243 pp.
  • Published: 2005
  • ISBN: 9780873529174 (Paperback)
  • ISBN: 9780873529167 (Cloth)
Approaches to Teaching Defoe's Robinson Crusoe Cover

“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.

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