Reflection: Backwards Planning "A Hero Ain't Nothing but a Sandwich": Imagining and Inventing an "Epic" Hero - Section 1: Teacher to Teacher: Lesson Overview and Context


A school year doesn't exist in a vacuum. It's part of the larger cycle. I frequently think about the circularity of the universe which Lucretious describes in On the Nature of the Things and which Stephen Greenblat writes about in The Swerve. This is why beginning the Beowulf unit with the hero's journey is so important. The journey is an archetype in world literature, American literature, and, of course, British literature. It's the basic structure of epic poetry, and we see its retelling in movies about comic heroes and everyday heroes. Students know the archetype even when they don't realize it. The Hero's Two Journeys DVD series is a valuable resource for those who want to understand the story arc for screenwriters better; I have found it a valuable resource that helps me think about teaching the epic.

At the end of the year, I'll teach Life of Pi by Yann Martel, a novel that teachers often approach using the hero monomyth. Although my emphasis is somewhat different, I keep in mind the journey my students take in senior English, including where I want them to be with their learning at the end of the course. Beginning at the beginning with the end informing my teaching fits the hero monomyth pattern in many ways and helps explain why this archetypal pattern is so important to the way I structure the course. 

  "Beowulf": Let's Start at the Very Beginning to Arrive at the Ending
  Backwards Planning: "Beowulf": Let's Start at the Very Beginning to Arrive at the Ending
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"A Hero Ain't Nothing but a Sandwich": Imagining and Inventing an "Epic" Hero

Unit 6: We Need a Hero: The Anglo-Saxon Epic "Beowulf"
Lesson 2 of 7

Objective: SWBAT use the hero monomyth as inspiration for creating an "epic" hero project.

Big Idea: We all have personal heroes and ideas about heroes whether from personal experience or pop culture.

  Print Lesson
English / Language Arts, Beowulf, Hero Monomyth, TED
  65 minutes
multi hero could be
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