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Lesson Plan

Style: Translating Stylistic Choices from Hawthorne to Hemingway and Back Again

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Style: Translating Stylistic Choices from Hawthorne to Hemingway and Back Again

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



Exploring the use of style in literature helps students understand how language conveys mood, images, and meaning. After exploring the styles of two authors, students translate passages from one author into the style of another. They then translate fables into the style of one of the authors.

The examples for this lesson plan include passages by Ernest Hemingway and Nathaniel Hawthorne; however, passages by any author can be used for the activities.

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Collaborative Style Activity, Part 1: This handout provides a brief overview of the styles of Hemingway and Hawthorne, along with an assignment to translate passages from one author into the style of the other.

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Students are experts at adapting their language to their situation, shifting from one style to another easily-and often unconsciously. The words, phrases, and clauses that they use when talking to the teacher in class are different from those that are used in the hallway with friends between classes. This lesson plan asks them to be more conscious and analytical about the language shifts that others make by exploring the use of words, phrases, and clauses in a literary passage. Understanding how authors make stylistic choices is only part of the goal here however. By considering the reasons that authors make the choices that they do, students explore the connections between audience (including the influence of society and culture), purpose, and voice. The issue of varying stylistic choices, such as those demonstrated in this lesson, is critical to students' understanding of the communicative functions of specific sets of conventions crucial to their determination of how to speak under different sets of circumstances. Such an understanding is important to their ability to participate fruitfully in a variety of literacy communities, and to use language to accomplish their own purposes.

Further Reading

This lesson plan was adapted from: Laughlin, Rosemary. 1999. "From Hawthorne to Hemingway: An Exercise in Style," Teaching Literature in High School: The Novel. pp. 26-29. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

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