A Touch of Communism

After taking my own Labor Day break from Book Pairing of the Week (never fear…I’ll do one later this week), I’m back with a brand new English course! This week, I’m looking at Communism, both as a setting for literature around the world and as a philosophical debate in America. The first unit is all about shorter works that focus on many different characters and many different stories, all of which have different relationships to Communism. The second unit takes a deeper look at families who undergo a revolution. The third unit looks at the debate over Communism from an American perspective (of course), and the course ends with 1984 (because it would simply be a sin not to) and a lovely discussion about the likelihood of an Orwellian future. This is not a philosophy or economics course, so I did not include any Marx or other philosophers. Mostly, it’s about how Communism as social change and social structure affects people.

Also, I’d like to say that I use The House of the Spirits a lot for these, but it encompasses so much that I want to talk about! I am aware of it. I just don’t care.


A Touch of Communism 


Unit I: Glimpses of Life (2 weeks)

Texts: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera, Man by Kim Thuy

Unit II: Changing Times (4 weeks)

Texts: Spring Moon by Bette Bao Lord, The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

Unit III: The Debate in America (10 weeks)

Texts: Living My Life by Emma Goldman, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinback, The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Unit IV: The Future is Now?

Text: 1984


Questions: What are the characters’ relationships to Communism? How does it change their way of life? What does it not affect? How do the authors represent Communism? From what social position do the characters make their judgment?



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