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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


Student Objectives

Session One

Session Two


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • explore the ways the literary element of style is used by an author.

  • explore examples of different literary styles in given excerpts.

  • adapt sample passage to a different literary style.

  • write an original piece applying what they've learned about literary style.

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Session One

  1. Pass out copies of the Collaborative Style Activity, Part 1 handout.

  2. Present and explore the information about Hawthorne's and Hemingway's style, using the notes on the handout. As you discuss the types of language that make Hawthorne's and Hemingway's styles distinctive, encourage students to find short examples in their textbooks and to read them aloud to the class. Students may also apply the Checklist: Elements of Literary Style to the passages they analyze.

  3. Explain the assignment that students will complete. Using the information about Hawthorne's and Hemingway's styles, collaborative groups will "translate" the content of one writer into the style of the other. The second page of the handout includes both the quotations to translate and a place for students to write their translations.

  4. Answer any questions pertaining to the example or the assignment.

  5. Divide students into small groups and give them the remainder of the class to work on their translations. Circulate among students as they work, offering support and feedback.

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Session Two

  1. Review the activity with students and answer any questions. Give students another 15 to 20 minutes to complete their exploration of the passage.

  2. Circulate among students as they work, offering support and feedback.

  3. After you're satisfied that students have had a chance to translate all of the passages on the handout, assemble as a class and share translations and related observations about Hawthorne's and Hemingway's styles. The following questions can generate discussion:

    • What did you notice about Hemingway's or Hawthorne's writing that you didn't see before?

    • What differences did you notice about the kinds of words that the author used?

    • What differences did you notice about the kind of sentence patterns that the author used?

    • Overall, how would you describe each author's style?
  4. In the process of the discussion, refer to the lists of features of the authors' styles from the handout, and encourage students to make any additions or changes to the lists based on their translations. Work toward creating a list of features that has been customized by your students.

  5. Pass out the Collaborative Style Activity, Part 2 handout, and explain the activity. Connect the translation project to the customized list of features by suggesting that students refer to the list as they work on translating the fables to Hawthorne's or Hemingway's style. If you've completed the Style: Defining and Exploring an Author's Stylistic Choices lesson plan, you might give students the option to translate a fable into Zora Neale Hurston's style.

  6. Answer any questions pertaining to the assignment before having students return to their groups.

  7. Give them the remainder of the class to work on their translations. Circulate among students as they work, offering support and feedback.

  8. When students have finished writing, have them share their revised fables and revisit their list of features to customize it further based on their experience.

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  • Many students become fairly adept with Hawthorne's style and enjoy re-creating it. Once you finish reading The Scarlet Letter, you might give students the option of applying what they've learned about Hawthorne's style in this lesson plan to their reading of the novel by assigning the Adopting Hawthorne's Style activity, which asks students to write from the perspective of someone interacting with Hawthorne's novel in 1660.

  • You might begin the project with the lesson plan Become a Character: Adjectives, Character Traits, and Perspective, which asks students to adopt the traits of a character in the novel. With the background on character traits and their effect on perspective and their examination of Hawthorne's style, students should be well prepared to respond to the challenge of sustaining a style similar to Hawthorne in this writing activity.

  • Extend your study of these authors by having students investigate their lives. Information about Hemingway is available from the Nobel Prize site's page on Hemingway and PBS's Michael Palin's Hemingway Adventure.

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As students translate the passages and fables, circulate among groups, observing students' identification of the various techniques employed in the passage. Provide support and feedback as you move from group to group.

After the class discussion about author's style, ask them to consider their translation activities for their own language use. Ask students to write in their journals or in a freewrite on the following reflective prompt:

Think of a time when you had to translate something that you said or wrote from one style to another. It might have been a time when you said something to a friend that an adult overheard and didn't understand, or it could be a time when you used technical jargon to talk about something you were doing in a class or at work and then you had to translate the description for someone who didn't have the same technical knowledge that you do.

How did the translation of your own words in that situation compare to translating Hemingway's and Hawthorne's styles? What did you notice about the way that people use language? What surprised you the most about the translating from one style to another, and why?

Read the pieces and comment on the self-reflections, noting important observations that students make and asking provoking questions where they need to think more deeply.


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