by Glen Downey, Comics in Education, www.comicsineducation.com
There are few plays more disturbing or more chilling than Ariel Dorfman's Death and the Maiden. The trailer to the 1994 film, shown below, can attest to this. Coming up with a good approach to teaching it is therefore no easy feat, since finding the best kinds of supporting materials takes some significant research.
The other day I was thinking about the play and sat down to scribble out some useful ways of thinking about how it might be approached, with my doodling turning into a full-on visual brainstorming of the possibilities.
It turns out that there are some significant supporting texts that one would be wise to study in order to fully appreciate Dorfman's play. Indeed, the motif of "Death and the Maiden" is a tradition in and of itself, one that stretches back into the middle ages at the very least. It has made its way into literature as well.
I think if the doodling below shows us anything, it's that a range of very useful connections can be made by an educator in pretty short order that might ultimately lead to the development of an entire unit of study. Something I'll be working on over the next little while is a series of downloadable pdfs for teachers and students that can help them to explore key aspects of many of the most frequently studied literary texts while allowing them to see connections to other works with similar themes and ideas.
Look for these downloadable pdfs in the coming weeks!
Dr. Glen Downey is an award-winning children's author, educator, and academic from Oakville, Ontario. He works as a children's writer for Rubicon Publishing, a reviewer for PW Comics World, an editor for the Sequart Organization, and serves as the Chair of English and Drama at The York School in Toronto.
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