Approaches to Teaching the Works of Samuel Johnson

  • Editors: David R. Anderson, Gwin J. Kolb
  • Pages: xi & 152 pp.
  • Published: 1993
  • ISBN: 9780873527217 (Cloth)
  • ISBN: 9780873527224 (Paperback)
Approaches to Teaching the Works of Samuel Johnson Cover

The works of Samuel Johnson—in particular, the famous Dictionary and the Lives of the Poets—have long held a central place in the English curriculum. This volume from the MLA derives its rationale from a different source, however: reports from experienced teachers of Johnson that students truly enjoy reading him. Johnson’s writings can speak directly to students’ concerns about identity and vocation, the role of authority, the relations between the sexes, and the challenge of trying to live according to one’s own ideas. Approaches to Teaching the Works of Samuel Johnson shows the ways successful teachers have used these topics to enliven classroom discussion.

Like other books in the MLA’s Approaches to Teaching World Literature series, this one is divided into two parts. The first part, “Materials,” weighs the merits of various anthologies of Johnson’s works and evaluates the relevant scholarly and critical resources. In the second part, “Approaches,” sixteen contributors offer thematic teaching strategies for use in courses ranging from composition to women’s studies; explore methods of teaching Johnson’s works to nonmajors, particularly in survey courses of British literature or Western civilization; and focus on teaching specific works, both the familiar ones and those that are less well known, including Johnson’s letters, the Soame Jenyns review, and A Journey to the Western Islands.