Approaches to Teaching Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels

  • Editor: Edward J. Rielly
  • Pages: ix & 148 pp.
  • Published: 1988
  • ISBN: 9780873525121 (Paperback)
  • ISBN: 9780873525114 (Cloth)
Approaches to Teaching Swift's Gulliver's Travels Cover

Jonathan Swift’s Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World—more commonly known as Gulliver’s Travels—is rightly considered one of literature’s great satires. Many students, however, regard the book as children’s literature and Swift himself as a misanthrope. Teachers face the additional challenge that inexperienced readers will be overwhelmed by the book’s unfamiliar political and historical landscape. The essays in this volume of the Approaches to Teaching World Literature series help instructors deal with the enormous amount of background material incorporated into Gulliver’s Travels, the book’s seeming lack of structural and thematic unity, the author’s often ambivalent attitude toward his “hero” and the peoples and creatures Gulliver encounters during his voyages, and the essence of Swift’s satire.

The first of the two parts of this volume, “Materials,” reviews classroom editions of Gulliver’s Travels, required and recommended student readings, audiovisual materials, and background and biographical works for instructors. The second part, “Approaches,” offers strategies, by twenty teachers, for presenting Swift’s work in a variety of settings. Fourteen essays suggest different methodologies for introducing the text to students—such as considering whether Gulliver’s Travels is a novel and using Swift’s letters to reveal the “real” author. The final six essays propose specific assignments for students, from performing dramatic readings to writing satires.