Sea of Troubles has been designed for classroom teachers struggling to address the overwhelming issues facing our world today. By embracing the Common Core’s emphasis on the inclusion of more nonfiction, informational texts, the authors have demonstrated how to incorporate meaningful informational texts into their favorite units of literature. Sea of Troubles shows teachers how literature and informational texts can work together, to enhance each other, and, by extension, enhance student’s abilities to critically think and respond to the sea of troubles that pervades society.
Elizabeth James is the coauthor of Method to the Madness: A Common Core Guide to Creating Critical Thinkers through the Study of Literature. She teaches at the high school and college levels and provides professional development for English teachers. She and B. H. James share two wonderful sons.
B. H. James is the author of Parnucklian for Chocolate and coauthor of Method to the Madness: A Common Core Guide to Creating Critical Thinkers through the Study of Literature. He teaches high school English in Northern California, where he lives with his wife, Elizabeth James, and their two sons.
Chapter One: Syntactical Othering and The Merchant of Venice
Chapter Two: Racial Injustice and A Raisin in the Sun
Chapter Three: Intertextuality in The Merchant of Venice and A Raisin in the Sun
Chapter Four: Abuses of Power and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Chapter Five: Authoritarianism in 1984 and Animal Farm
Chapter Six: Genocide and Ethnic Internment in Night and Farewell to Manzanar
Chapter Seven: Gender Inequality and The Handmaid’s Tale
Chapter Eight: The Tragedy of Growing Up in Romeo and Juliet and To Kill a Mockingbird
About the Authors
Are you keen to explore contemporary issues with students but more than a little bored with the titles in your curriculum? Sea of Troubles offers a model for re-envisioning how traditional texts are taught. Elizabeth and B.H. James describe instructional moves designed to demonstrate how literature “reflects the world and the world is reflected in fiction.” Whether you teach online or in person, their lessons integrating informational readings with literary works are sure to enliven classroom conversations.
Elizabeth and B.H. James have written an elegant, sophisticated, and eminently useable text that English teachers will find energizing to read, even if they don’t teach the texts under consideration. Not only do the pair offer us new ways to both think about some of the most commonly-taught texts (Merchant, Raisin, Mockingbird) and teach these texts in conversation with nonfiction, but they do so in a way that is respectful and deeply optimistic about the possibility that English teachers might use literature to arm students with the skills to meet the sea of troubles that is our world and write the new book that we all need.
This book is designed to begin a very needed conversation in our classrooms today about social, racial, and gender inequities, done in the hope to help heal our nation of its acquiescence toward injustices that surround us today, guiding teachers to help students articulate and connect their own lived experiences to find meaning and relevance in the textbooks on the shelf. As we hope students forge their own 'brave new world,' the lessons in this book will activate the innate student and teenage desire to question and challenge the world around them, to state what goes unsaid about power and control in their own lives, to see the function of literature as more than an academic exercise, but as a call to embrace the full humanity of every human being.
Always student-centered, Elizabeth and B.H. James marry their cutting-edge call to pair literary and informational texts with concrete activities and assignments that are ready for the classroom. Activating old texts canonized in Common Core Standards for of-our-moment conversations, they show othering—where one gender, race, religion, or identity is stigmatized—to be a central, troubling feature of both literature and life. That agenda-setting insight opens doors for students to learn of bigotry today via Shakespeare, redlining in Chicago via A Raisin in the Sun, authoritarianism in 2020 via 1984, and structural sexism via The Handmaid’s Tale.