Linda Miller Cleary
Bram Stoker's Dracula: Taking a Closer Look At History, Psychology, and Folklore, Fiction, and Film
The unit will consist of three two-week sections: The first two weeks, will be spent learning about historical events/concepts/figures and relating it to the text-New Historicism. The teacher will present the topics of: Literary Illusions, Journals and Letters, and The New Woman. Students will sign up to research a particular topic in an assigned group and will bring their findings to class ready to present on the day specified. These topics will be: Ships/Shipping Industry, Captains, Immigration in Europe During the 1800’s, Sanitariums, Diseases, Medicine, and Treatment of the Dead in Different Cultures. They will help teach the class about the particular subject and relate it to the text. Any information the group does not cover, the teacher will go over. The next two weeks will be spent examining the vampire as a repeating character in literature/how it changes over time by reading folklore from the 1800’s to the present, examining the vampire in the media by viewing different types of media-ads, cereal boxes, film, television shows, learning about different kinds of vampires, questioning the appeal of the vampire, each creating our own vampire character, and learning how vampires relate with other immortal characters, namely werewolves, by examining other folklore. The last two and a half weeks will be spent looking at Bram Stoker’s Dracula from a psychological perspective. Students will apply the text to Freudian psychology. Psychological criticism is the most common criticism used by high school teachers when teaching this text and teaching about the criticism will take up a large chunk of time. I think if we focus on Freud, it will be clear. Students will write a final research paper about a specific theme of their choice from a list of themes provided or they can suggest one and ok it with the instructor. Students will have to touch on psychological criticism as it relates to Freud’s theory of dreams and repression of fears. I only expect them to use these two topics from Freud and how it relates to their theme. The most important question students will want to ask themselves is: How does their theme add to our understanding of Dracula?
Because this unit involves literary criticisms, the age group I am aiming for is eleventh and twelfth graders. This unit will benefit students in their life because they will learn to question what the media is telling them, how to relate characters to their own life, and how to see texts from different perspectives. This will benefit the world because students learn to be investigators of their world and think for themselves. Issues of race/ethnicity will come up when doing media literacy because students can question why most vampires are white and when we discuss history students will see how cultures differ in their views about the dead/undead. Issues of gender will come up when examining the characterization of female vampires vs. male vampires and discussing the historical perspective of “The New Woman”.
This unit is appropriate for eleventh and twelfth grade students. Some of its features that would be inappropriate for other grade levels are the rating of the films and Dracula as a text is difficult reading for other grade levels. If I was teaching this unit for other grade levels, I would use just the films and other media that are rated lower (cartoons, tv shows)
and a more simplified version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula-they are out there. I would also use the book on audio to reduce the bulk of reading for ESL and less proficient readers.
My assumptions in going into this unit are that students have been exposed to the character of a vampire and have ideas of what constitutes a vampire. I also assume that students know how to use the computer well enough to access the internet. I assume that students have done discussions of literature before and are familiar with journal writing.
Desired Outcomes/Standards/Objectives to be Met
1. Evaluate a literary selection from several critical perspectives
2. Demonstrate how literary works reflect the historical contexts that shaped them
3. Cite Sources of information using a standard method of documentation, using the style sheet from the Modern Language Association (MLA).
4. Research-the students will locate and use information in reference materials by printing materials from electronic databases and online resources; as well as, using books.
Possible Whole-Class Activities
~Sample Paper Critiques
Possible Small-Group Activities
Possible Individual Activities
~Conferencing with the Teacher
One copy per student of Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Unit Launch/Anticipatory Set/Set Induction
First Day Lesson:
Teacher: Jenny Hoffman Class: Honors English 11 and/or English 12 Date: Day 1
Unit: Bram Stoker’s Dracula: Taking a Closer Look at History, Psychology, and Folklore, Fiction, and Film
Lesson Topic: Unit Launch
Time Duration: 50 minutes
1. Students will have questioned their own preconceptions and exposure to a reoccurring character.
2. Students will have recalled their own fears and realize they already hold some oral culture.
3. Students will have learned briefly about the history of the gothic genre
4. Students will have learned briefly about Bram Stoker and Dracula
1. Begin by having students access Webquest and do Task One. (10 min.)
2. After students have filled out the questionnaire, have them share their responses with a partner. (5 min.)
3. Then, discuss responses as a class. (10 min.)
4. Read a passage from early vampire folklore. (5 min.)
5. Ask students if this characterization sounds familiar-what is the same/different?
6. Introduce the Gothic Genre
I. Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Ontranto started the genre
II. Gothic genre reflects architecture (show pictures) and it reflects a way of thinking: Superstitions, protestant religion, darkness, and the reoccurring images of the mystery of nature, villain/hero, and solitary/dark places.
III. Gothic genre is concerned with the supernatural but the supernatural is often hidden- it is held in the fear of the unknown. (10 min.)
7. Introduce Bram Stoker and Dracula
I. Abraham Stoker- Born in Dublin November 1847.
II. Active in the community with other writers in London-Oscar Wilde and Thomas Hardy
III. Stoker was known as a producer for the actor Henry Irving
IV. Stoker had three occupations during his life: civil servant, theater manager, and a writer
V. Largest person in his family: 6 ‘2, red hair, strong
VI. Born during the Great Famine in Ireland (1845-49)
VII. Mother told him of Irish supernatural myths when he was stricken invalid by an illness when he was 7.
VIII. These stories had an influence on his writing later in his life-plague, disease, led to resentment of the English for not helping the Irish.
IX. Finish with his brief history tomorrow
8. Pass out books and assign Chapters 1 and 2 to read
Organization of the Unit:
Week One: Monday- Intro to Gothic Novel
|Tuesday: Continue Discussion|
~Introduce Bram Stoker and Dracula
~Vampire as a reoccurring figure
~Assign Ch. 1-2
|Wednesday: Discuss Chapters 1-2|
~Map Out Jonathan’s Journey
|Thursday: Overview of region and history|
~Assign Ch. 3-4
|Friday: Journal Prompt|
~Discuss Ch. 3-4
Webquest- Vlad the Impaler
~ Discuss Findings
Monday- Continue to Discuss Findings
|Tuesday: Journal Prompt|
~Discuss Ch. 5-6
~Importance of Journals and Letters
~Means of Communication
|Wednesday: Making Predictions|
~Mina: The New Woman
~Summary So Far
|Thursday: Journal Prompt|
~Discuss Ch. 7-8
~Influence of the Media
~Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner
|Friday: Make Predictions|
~Ships and Captains
~Response to Immigration
~Assign Ch. 9-10
Monday- Journal Prompt
|Tuesday- Make Predictions|
~Treatment of the Dead
~Assign Ch. 11-12
|Wednesday: Journal Prompt|
~Discuss Ch. 11-12
~Vampires and Werewolves
|Thursday: Discussion of Survey continued|
~Animals and Vampires
~Assign Ch. 13-14
Friday: Journal Prompt
Activity: Vampire Roleplaying
|Week Four: |
Monday- Modern Day Dracula
|Tuesday: Journal Prompt and Discussion of Ch. 15-16|
~Depictions of Vampires: Film clips and Documentary
Film Day: Watch first half of Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula
~Assign Ch. 17-18
~Discuss Ch. 17-18
~Finish watching the first half of the film
~Compare/Contrast in groups
|Friday: Journal Prompt|
~Practice in Group
~Assign Ch. 19-20
|Week Five: |
|Tuesday: Journal Prompt|
~Short stories-what mood do they set?
~Assign Ch. 21-22
Webquest: Psychoanalytic Criticism
~Brainstorm in groups
Discuss Ch. 21-22
~Importance of Books
~Sign-up for topics
Research in Library
~Assign Ch. 23-24
|Week Six: |
~Quotes and Paraphrasing
Finish up with MLA Documentation
~Paper Outline Due Friday
~Assign to Finish the Book
Journal: Concluding thoughts on the book
~Work in groups on paper outlines
~Work on rough drafts in class: Due Monday
Watch the last half of the Dracula film
~Compare/Contrast book to film in groups.
~Rest of the day, work day.
|Week Seven: |
~The importance of oral culture
Detailed Plans for Three Days of the Unit:
Supporting Materials for Teachers Who Teach the Unit:
Discussion questions (see attachments)
Links to New Historicist Criticism
Links to Psychoanalytic Criticism
Journal Prompts and Discussion Questions:
~5 points per journal entry: 10 entries total.
~5 points participation per discussion: 10 discussions total.
~20 points for each set of research findings presented to class: 2 group times
~20 points for research highlighted: 1 set of 3 sources
~20 points for paper outline: 1 must be turned in
~30 points for rough draft: 1 must be turned in
~60 points for final draft: 1 must be turned in
Total Points Possible: 280 points
Rubric for assessment
Like what you see? We've also got a complete Online Course about Dracula, with three weeks worth of readings, activities, assignments, and quizzes.
Dracula is the great-great-grandfather of all vampires—from Lestat to Edward Cullen—so students might think they know the story already. But guess what? They don't know Drac.
It's your job to illuminate (with artificial light, so as not to vaporize any vampires) the hidden meanings of the novel, like its gender dynamics and commentary on Victorian culture.
In this guide you will find
- quizzes to see if students read the book or watched the Keanu Reeves version of the story.
- activities exploring the real-life inspiration for the story and analyzing vampire lore.
- resources both old (Macbeth, Frankenstein) and new (Twilight, Buffy)…but all immortal.
Stake your claim on this teaching guide, and you'll win the fight against this immortal monster.
What's Inside Shmoop's Literature Teaching Guides
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Inside each guide you'll find quizzes, activity ideas, discussion questions, and more—all written by experts and designed to save you time. Here are the deets on what you get with your teaching guide:
- 13-18 Common Core-aligned activities to complete in class with your students, including detailed instructions for you and your students.
- Discussion and essay questions for all levels of students.
- Reading quizzes for every chapter, act, or part of the text.
- Resources to help make the book feel more relevant to your 21st-century students.
- A note from Shmoop’s teachers to you, telling you what to expect from teaching the text and how you can overcome the hurdles.
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