Kurt Vonnegut is remembered for his wit, embrace of absurdism, and powerful writing that handled his experience of surviving the bombing of Dresden during WWII with a unique and meaningful perspective.
This 13-week high school literature class will take a deep dive into Vonnegut’s work.
|Start / End Dates||January 30-May 7, 2023 (with Spring Break March 13)|
|Meetings||Mondays at 3-3:45pm Eastern|
|Class Size||3-10 Learners|
|Single Session||$350 Per Student*|
|*Sliding Fee Pricing|
“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.” -Kurt Vonnegut
Vonnegut was imprisoned in a slaughterhouse in WWII and survived the Allied bombing of Dresden during his internment. This experience is one he returns to again and again in his works — both fiction and nonfiction.
Vonnegut’s worldview is one that explores the depths of human’s capacity for kindness and cruelty while often landing on an absurdist conclusion about the meaning of life.
In this class, we’ll read four short stories and two novels (and likely some other excerpts) from Vonnegut.
Along the way, we’ll explore how his worldview appears in his works and analyze literary themes while writing papers and giving student-led class lectures.
Read Several Texts
In this class, we’re going to read four of Kurt Vonnegut’s short stories from the collection Welcome to the Monkey House, two novels (Mother Night and Slaughter-House Five), and some selections from his nonfiction essays in Armageddon in Retrospect.
Throughout the class, we’ll be exploring the writing techniques Vonnegut uses as well as larger literary themes.
Dig Deep and Gain Analysis Skills
This class serves as practice for the type of deep dive students might take into a particular author in a college-level setting.
Most learners can expect to spend 5-7 hours per week (including the live meeting) working on class materials.
(This class will meet or exceed 60 hours of coursework to count as 0.5 credits of high school ELA).
Live Sessions Meet on Mondays
Class is weekly from January 30-May 7 with a spring break from March 13-19. There is no meeting on Monday, March 13. There are 13 total live meetings.
We’ll meet via Zoom for a live discussion session each Monday at 3-3:45pm Eastern/2-2:45pm Central/1-1:45pm Mountain/12-12:45pm Pacific
If a learner cannot attend a session due to illness or a schedule conflict, they will still have access to all class materials and can check in with the instructor with any questions.
Assignments Open Each Week
In order to allow for learners and their families to have the flexibility they need, assignments open by Monday of each week and are due by the following Sunday. Learners can complete work at whatever time works best for them throughout the week.
Learners will be most successful in this class if they have the following skills/experiences:
- The ability to read around 150-200 pages a week at a high school level. (It’s okay to struggle with maintaining focus and note-taking. We’ll be working on those skills!)
- The ability to meet challenging texts with a sense of perseverance
- The ability to work independently on assignments between class meetings with focused time management
- The ability to participate maturely in online discussions and disagree respectfully
Finding the Right Challenge
This is a challenging class. It is among the most demanding in terms of time, reading expectations, and content.
Learners who are uncomfortable with lengthy reading assignments may find a better fit with a less demanding class.
Learners who are looking for a challenge to stretch strong reading skills and prepare for college-level literary analysis will find this class a good fit.
This class is designed with three main goals in mind:
- Introduce students to “canonical” literature that has a lasting, ongoing impact on contemporary culture
- Draw connections between texts within a single author’s body of work
- Provide students with opportunities to question, analyze, and draw connections between classic and contemporary messaging in literature
- Encourage students to develop meaningful, personalized writing processes to express ideas about literature
Common Core Standards Alignment
For those who are using Common Core standards, this course meets the following:
- ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.1- Use textual evidence to support analysis
- ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.2- Analyze development of two or more themes over the course of a text; provide objective summary
- ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.3- Analyze impact of author’s development choices
- ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.4-Determine meaning of words and phrases in use
- ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.5-Analyze author’s structural choices
- ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.6-Analyze point of view through indirect statement
- ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.7-Analyze multiple interpretations of a text
- ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.10-Read and comprehend complex literature
Upon successful completion of class, instructor provides detailed exit letter suitable for inclusion in portfolio. Families may request numerical grade at beginning of class for a detailed course grade summary, but it is optional.
All students will receive individualized feedback on assignments.
My teaching philosophy very much focuses on starting with students’ strengths to build confidence and using them to work on improvements over time.
Feedback is tailored to each student’s individual needs and goals. I also encourage a lot of self-reflection and provide opportunities for students to directly communicate their challenges so that facing them with strategies becomes a normal part of the writing process.
Mature themes including references to sex, drugs, and war appear in these texts. Families are encouraged to screen content in advance if they have concerns/sensitivities.
Every effort will be made to discuss mature content with respect, academic purpose, and contextual understanding.
To participate successfully in class, learners will need the following:
- Copies of the following books (all by Kurt Vonnegut):
- Armageddon in Retrospect (ISBN 978-0-425-22689-6)
- Welcome to the Monkey House (ISBN 0-385-33350-1)
- Slaughterhouse-Five (ISBN: 978-0-385-33384-9)
- Mother Night (ISBN: 978-0-385-33414-3)
(Note: There are multiple editions of some of these. Any should work.)
- Microphone and camera for in-class participation
- PDF Reader
- Zoom (free account)
- Learners will submit work through Google Drive (a Google (Gmail) account can be acquired for free)
Dr. Michelle Parrinello-Cason
Dr. Michelle Parrinello-Cason has a Ph.D. in English with an emphasis on rhetoric and composition. She has more than a decade of teaching experience including six years of full-time college experience
We have thoroughly enjoyed ancient history with Sam Matalone Cook and would love to continue following the history courses under her instruction. Michelle’s writing workshop was a welcomed addition to our semester and the ease of adding on a quick workshop to the semester was appreciated. I do wish that I could take classes, too. The great selection makes me jealous; Fairy Tales and Feminism would be so incredible to join in and to learn with Sam! And the LGBTQ+ history and US courses! Blair’s enthusiasm for science comes across strongly and is encouraging for the young learners. So many great classes- so little time.
Sheila and Elisa
So many great classes- so little time.
My Zoom-averse daughter looked forward to the weekly online meetings. Michelle does such a wonderful job at speaking with young people and guiding discussions. My daughter was motivated to work hard on her assignments and has asked to take another class from Michelle. E.F.P.
Michelle does such a wonderful job at speaking with young people and guiding discussionsTeacher: Michelle Parrinello-Cason
I really appreciated your enthusiasm, support, and kind words in your video feedback messages to him. That goes a long way! [Learner] is going to a brick and mortar school next year for the first time since fourth grade. We submitted the two papers he wrote in your class to the high school he applied to go to next year, and they recommended he start in Advanced English! Woohoo! Jill G.
We submitted the two papers he wrote in your class to the high school he applied to go to next year, and they recommended he start in Advanced English!Teacher: Michelle Parrinello-Cason
The video lectures were clear and packed full of helpful and important writing lessons. The video and written feedback was clearly personalized, very detailed, and extremely beneficial for my learner. Michelle truly demonstrates compassion and expertise in her classes! Kristi R.
Michelle truly demonstrates compassion and expertise in her classes!Teacher: Michelle Parrinello-Cason
I only wish we had found Michelle sooner! I’ve been homeschooling my son off and on for years. Writing is very challenging for him and it is so difficult to take feedback from a parent. I have begged so many of his teachers to please offer direct, concise, written feedback and give him the opportunity to revise. I knew this would be the only way he could improve. This class was everything I’ve been asking for for years…..except I didn’t have to ask! It is designed this way and it worked brilliantly! My son gets to attend an adventure school in the fall, but if we homeschool the following year, the first thing I will do is sign him up for whatever Michelle is teaching. E.F.P.
I only wish we had found Michelle sooner!Teacher: Michelle Parrinello-Cason
I really appreciate how organized the class was, how clear the expectations and guidelines were and how professional and encouraging the feedback delivery was. Darcey
I really appreciate how organized the class wasTeacher: Michelle Parrinello-Cason
I just want to take a few minutes to send a huge thank you for the way you deliver (have delivered) feedback to [Learner]. He tends to put a lot of pressure on himself and doesn’t often take feedback or constructive criticism well. You have managed to give him a boost of confidence and an opportunity to look inward to appreciate feedback from others. I’m so glad we found you! This experience is exactly what I hoped for in our homeschooling journey! Karen
I’m so glad we found you! This experience is exactly what I hoped for in our homeschooling journey!Teacher: Michelle Parrinello-Cason
He was so invigorated and excited after today’s meeting. It awakens something in him he craves and can only get from discussions like the one today. Bevin Early
He was so invigorated and excited after today’s meeting.Teacher: Michelle Parrinello-Cason
I especially enjoyed the final project for this class, which was something I had never tried before, using creative writing as a way to debate philosophy and contrasting view points. It was quite a bit challenging, ultimately leaving me satisfied with the ending result.
I used creative writing as a way to debate philosophy and contrasting view pointsTeacher: Michelle Parrinello-Cason
For us, this is “authentic learning.” We discussed how community college classes and other virtual online high school classes might be accredited and “weigh” a lot in terms of grades and credits, but SEA Online Classes is where her mind and creativity are challenged and inspired. I’d like to emphasize the part about creativity. She felt invited to engage creatively. SEA Online classes are where the love of learning happens.