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Lesson Plan

Literary Parodies: Exploring a Writer's Style through Imitation

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Literary Parodies: Exploring a Writer's Style through Imitation

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Two 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Traci Gardner

Traci Gardner

Blacksburg, Virginia


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



The popular saying “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” coined by Charles Caleb Colton, is the basis for this lesson, which asks students to analyze the features of a poet's work then create their own poems based on the original model. Students analyze sample poems and their parodies, focusing on the language and style of the original writer. They then write their own parody of the poem. This lesson uses William Carlos Williams' poem “This is Just to Say,” but a list of alternative poems and their parodies is also included.

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Venn Diagram: Students can use this online tool to compare two or three items.

Literary Parodies Assessment: Use this rubric to assess students' literary parodies.

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In Accent on Meter: A Handbook for Readers of Poetry, Joseph Powell and Mark Halperin define parody as "The deliberate mocking of a serious composition by imitating its style or tone" (140). Though such mockery can seem made at the expense of the original text, Powell and Halperin remind us that "these parodies often come out of respect for the original" (140). Parody, as Maureen McMahon explains, "involves an in-depth study of a writer's style . . . [thus] it is a useful way to familiarize students with literary devices" (72).

Further Reading

McMahon, Maureen. "Are We Having Fun Yet? Humor in the English Class." English Journal 88.4 (March 1999): 70-72.


Powell, Joseph, and Mark Halperin. 2004. Accent on Meter: A Handbook for Readers of Poetry. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

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