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Book Circles

Page history last edited by Mr. Mullen 6 years, 1 month ago


19th century book circles


  • Choose a 19th century novel you would like to read and discuss. Do some background reading on authors, plots, and styles before you make your selection.

  • Students with similar reading interests will be grouped together in circles of 3-4. Five is too many.


Partial List of Novels

Jane Austen



Pride and Prejudice

Sense and Sensibility


Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights


Charles Dickens

Great Expectations

Hard Times


Fyodor Dostoevsky

Crime and Punishment


Thomas Hardy

The Mayor of Casterbridge

Tess of the D'Urbervilles


Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray



Products (All of them)

  • Everyone will take an objective quiz on the novel they have chosen. (100)

  • Each group will keep a discussion log on the wiki or on a shared Google doc (20)

  • Each group will create a "choice" product as described below. (30)


* Individual grades on this group activity may vary depending on each member's contribution. Individual contributions will be documented using a "labor log." 


Discussion Circles and Logs

  • Once in your group, divide the novel into 10 sections. You will read and discuss a section a day.

  • Create a shared Google doc for your log entries. Invite me to participate in the doc at mmullen@haverfordsd.net

  • Post your reading schedule and leader schedule on the page.

  • Choose a discussion leader for each section. That person will be responsible for preparing the discussion for that day and for entering the minutes of the discussion on a Google doc. Share that doc with Mr. Mullen. 

  • Your discussions and logs will be useful when you create your products.

  • Absence on the day you were supposed to lead will likely result in a deduction from your log grade. Show up prepared when you say you are going to be there. 

  • Not reading the book as assigned and hanging the leader out to dry is not nice. If I get an idea you are not reading, you may be singled out for a spot check quiz. I may penalize your log grade for lack of participation. 


Discussion Leaders

  • Focus your discussions on specific passages that offer varying and controversial interpretations.

  • Invite discussions about characters-- their motivations, their contradictory behavior, and their relations with other characters. Follow their “arcs”: an actor's term for where characters start out, where they end up, and how they got there. Pay attention to how narrators describe them and the tone they use when describing them.

  • Think about how the narrator's TONE affects your reading of the novel.  

  • Invite discussions about major themes. Ask questions about prominent ideological or moral conflicts in the novel.

  • Invite discussions about repeated images (motifs) and potential metaphors. Houses are always significant-- they are emblems of their owners. 

  • Consider how characters, imagery, and events can be understood on levels of interpretation beyond the literal.  

  • Always focus on irony.

  • Summarize your discussions: include the passages discussed, the questions asked, and the main ideas and insights that were tossed about. Chronicle any unanswered questions or lingering controversies.

  • Proofread.



Choice product

Make a presentation about your novel using the smart board. Use these alternatives to Power Point:


  • a character analysis on the protagonist or antagonist

  • major themes

  • prominent images and metaphors

  • memorable or key passages and a text-rooted analysis of those passages

  • ironies


Maintain an academic tone. Be informative first, entertaining or precious second.



Tentative schedule:

04/17 M

Familiarize the class with the assignment; choose novels, get in groups, background reading and answers to questions

04/18 T

Organizational. Divide the novel, create leader schedule, read

04/19 W 

Day 1 schedule, first section of novel

leader notes posted

04/20 H

Day 2, second section

leader notes

04/21 F

Day 3, third section

leader notes


04/24 M

Day 4, etc.

leader notes

Start planning the choice product

04/25 T

Day 5

leader notes

Choice product


04/26 W

Day 6

leader notes

Choice product


04/27 H

Day 7

product planning

04/28 F

Day 8

product planning


05/01 M

Day 9

product planning

05/02 T

Day 10

Optional quiz day

Optional presentations

05/03 W 




Book Circle Quiz Page 


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