Welcome to part 2 in this series on teaching literature in the second-language classroom: what literature to teach.

Today's Agenda

In today’s post, I will review the previous post on the topic. I will look at some American, British, Irish and Canadian writers I use in my teaching, and talk about two live plays coming up in the fall term.

An excellent tool for teaching literary analysis in the blended classroom is my online course, Introduction to Academic Writing.

Previously, I talked about the four literary genres I teach: short stories, poems and song lyrics, novels, and plays. I draw upon American, British, Irish and Canadian literature.

I presented 10 questions I ask myself when choosing literature. Finally, I referred to Edgar Allan Poe, George Orwell, Oscar Wilde, and Leonard Cohen: iconic literary figures.

American Authors

Here are some of the famous and not so famous American authors I like to teach in the literature class. You probably know most of them.

Short story

Edgar Allen Poe, Kate Chopin, Hemingway,

Ambroise Bierce, Shirley Jackson, Frank Stockton


Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Shel Silverstein,

W. Whitman


Ray Bradbury, Steinbeck, Mark Twain, Alice Walker, Stephen King, F.S. Fitzgerald, T. Morrison


T. Williams, Susan Glaspell

But you probably are wondering about Ambrose Bierce. He is one of the not-so-famous American writers who lived through the American Civil War. I love teaching his story, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek,” for its historical significance and vivid descriptive language.

In my approach to teaching literature, I like to work collaboratively with students. I choose the short stories and the live play we see. Students get to choose the poems and the novel they want to analyse.

Here is a free 179 page pdf American literature. It covers all the important names in American literature going from the colonial period right up until the end of the 20th century.

Screen Shot 2017-07-24 at 12.12.49 PM.png

British/ Irish Authors

Here are some great British and Irish authors to choose from. One of my favourites is Oscar Wilde. Students are also drawn to this author because of his tragic life.

Short story

Oscar Wilde, Roald Dahl


Shakespeare, Blake, Wordsworth, Elizabeth B. Browning, A.E. Houseman


William Golding, Orwell, C.S. Lewis (I), Jane Austen, E. Bronte, Tolkien


G.B.Shaw, Agatha Christie

Did you know that Great Britain, the United Kingdom, and the British Isles have different meanings?

Here’s a good source for a review of the history of English literature. It’s available for free at scribd.com

Screen Shot 2017-08-01 at 12.42.15 PM.png

Canadian Authors

There are lots of great Canadian writers too. Did you know that the Canadian short story writer Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2013?

Short story

Stephen Leacock, Hugh Garner


Leonard Cohen, Irving Layton, John McCrae, Robert Service, Mark Lavorato


Mordecai Richler, Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro


David Fennario, Antonine Maillet, Michel Tremblay, Robert Lepage

Notice I highlighted Mark Lavorato; he's a Western Canadian poet living in Montréal. He’s given talks on poetry several times to students at my college..

I like to take students to see a live play during the term in one of the two Montréal English-speaking playhouses.

This term we have The 39 Steps based on the Alfred Hitchcock’s classic spy thriller. There’s also The Hockey Sweater, a musical based on Roch Carrier famous short story. Which one would you take your students to see?

Screen Shot 2017-07-23 at 11.48.56 AM.png

In the next piece I will look at using film to teach literature in the second-language classroom.

Don’t forget to check out my online writing course, Introduction to Academic Writing.

Screen Shot 2017-08-01 at 3.41.16 PM.png

See the YouTube version of this post.