Approaches to Teaching Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying

  • Editors: Patrick O'Donnell, Lynda Zwinger
  • Pages: vi & 218 pp.
  • Published: 2011
  • ISBN: 9781603290852 (Paperback)
  • ISBN: 9781603290845 (Cloth)
Approaches to Teaching Faulkners As I Lay Dying Cover

“This volume of essays on As I Lay Dying will fill a longtime need for teachers and students of Faulkner. The editors have provided us with an aid that should help both new teachers and veterans to teach it more fully and effectively.”

—Gail L. Mortimer, professor emerita of English, University of Texas, El Paso

As I Lay Dying is considered by many both the most enigmatic and the most accessible of Faulkner’s major works. It is also the most dramatic; the journey of the Bundrens, a family of poor farmers in the South in the early twentieth century, unfolds like a one-act play, full of natural disaster and human madness. Taught in high school, college, and graduate courses, the novel lends itself to a wide range of interpretations, posing both challenges and opportunities for the instructor.

Part 1 of this Approaches volume, “Materials,” offers an extensive guide to reference materials helpful for both reading and teaching As I Lay Dying. In Part 2, “Approaches,” fourteen essays examine the historical, geographic, and cultural aspects of the novel; consider it as a modernist narrative; address such issues as gender, materiality, language, and family dynamics; and discuss the novel in comparative and intertextual terms. Teachers will find suggestions for course design, in-class exercises, and assignments to help students explore a variety of themes, including death and mourning, the role of the mother, work, and the relation between nature and culture.

Cedric Gael Bryant
Deborah Clarke
Mark Frisch
Donald M. Kartiganer
Barbara Ladd
Cheryl Lester
John T. Matthews
E. L. McCallum
Sean McCann
Lisa K. Perdigao
Homer B. Pettey
Annette Wannamaker
Michael Zeitlin
Heide Ziegler

 Preface (1)

PART ONE: MATERIALS

Publication History and Editions (9)

Biographical Materials (9)

Textual Aids and Resources (10)

Cultural and Aesthetic Contexts (11)

Critical Works (12)

Maps and Genealogies (15)

As I Lay Dying as Play and Opera (15)

PART TWO: APPROACHES

Introduction (19)

Contextual Approaches

Addie Bundren, Modernity, and Authorship in As I Lay Dying (21)

Barbara Ladd

“The Past Is Never Dead”: Reading As I Lay Dying for Our Time (33)

Cheryl Lester

Does Anse Bundren Love His Wife? Gifts, Promises, and Obligations in As I Lay Dying (48)

Sean McCann

Modernist Strategies

Telling Time: The Use of Montage in the Narration of As I Lay Dying (62)

E. L. McCallum

Nonlinear Perspectives in As I Lay Dying (74)

Homer B. Pettey

As I Lay Dying: A Modernist Epic (84)

Heide Ziegler

Thematic and Theoretical Approaches

“Seeing into the Heart”: Teaching the Vardaman Narratives of As I Lay Dying (100)

Michael Zeitlin

“Salvation Is Just Words Too”: Addie Bundren and the Language of Motherhood (113)

Annette Wannamaker

“It Aint Balanced Right”: Repositioning the Body in and of As I Lay Dying (123)

Lisa K. Perdigao

“It Means Three Dollars”: Following the Money in As I Lay Dying (136)

Deborah Clarke

A Tale of Two Novels (147)

Donald M. Kartiganer

Comparative and Intertextual Approaches

As I Lay Dying: Approaching the Postcolonial (158)

John T. Matthews

“Inspiriting Influences”: Textual Performance in William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying and Suzan-Lori Parks’s Getting Mother’s Body (172)

Cedric Gael Bryant

Teaching As I Lay Dying in Cross-Cultural Contexts (184)

Mark Frisch

Notes on Contributors (199)

Works Cited 201

Index 215