This unit explores the genres of Japanese animations (hereafter named “anime”) and epic poetry with students in 11th grade English classes. I first became interested in including anime in my instruction when I saw how many students read manga during in-class pleasure reading sessions, and how often their conversations would focus on both their manga and the anime adaptations. It was particularly interesting that these conversations often created common ground across student social boundaries: students who ordinarily didn’t talk to each other might easily hold a conversation about anime. When I selected an anime movie to study along with a text, students I never imagined would be interested in anime would shout for joy when they heard the title. This is a genre that has a lot of traction with students, and it deserves a closer look.
Just as teachers are always looking for ways to engage students with a literary text, we are also looking for texts that already hold intrinsic interest for students. This unit pairs anime, something with a high level of student-interest, with Homer’s epic poem
– something with high literary merit but little initial student buy-in. I believe anime can be highly useful as a springboard for cultivating and refining both analytical skills and interpretive approaches, and these approaches can then be applied to
. Hopefully, this dialogue between texts will expose the literary merits of anime while giving students an interest in and engagement with Homer’s epic poem. This is a large undertaking — even abbreviating the original text of
to select only the most relevant and necessary books
so the time allotted for the unit would be one marking period, consisting of 9 weeks and roughly 21 classes.