It's probably sacrilege to be an English teacher and admit that a particular novel is a snooze-fest. Several years ago, I was in an English department that required seniors to read Tess of the D'Urbervilles as a novel representative of the Victorian era.
It was torture for the students and it was torture for me. As an assessment tool (and campaign to take it off the 12th grade British Literature reading list), I had my students write arguments on why it should not be used in that course in the future.
The assignments is based on the assumption that literary blogger, Luccia Gray states as, "Victorian novels are too long for modern tastes and often dwell generously on details which will often exasperate the modern, and often impatient reader.”
Additionally, the assignment asks students to think critically about Hardy's pessimistic outlook, the lack of credibility in Tess (as well as Angel and Alec), and the book's immoral theme.
Teachers may tailor the other assignment details such as length and textual support based on their own expectations.
While students may dislike the book, this exercise empowers to them to articulate why and in the process, they are actually ANALYZING their own motives, EVALUATING criteria of a worthy and worthwhile book, and CREATING a product (essay) that ties that analysis and evaluation into a document that may or may not be used to persuade decision makers to remove the book from the curriculum.
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