Undisciplining In and Through Contemporary Texts

Kingston harbor with a few sailboats visible in the background.

Lesson Plan Cluster Production Details

Cluster Developer: Ryan D. Fong Contact

Lesson Plan Developers: Barbara Barrow, Renee Fox, Cherrie Kwok, Diana Rose Newby, Matthew Poland, Jessie Reeder, Oishani Sengupta, Emma Soberano

Lesson Plan Pages:
  1. Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and Caryl Phillips’s The Lost Child
  2. Africanfuturism and British Catastrophe Literature
  3. Colonial/Postcolonial Texts of the “Dark Continent”
  4. Re-Reading Nineteenth-Century Archives
  5. Undisciplining Dracula: Fledgling and Afrofuturism
  6. Undisciplining Ecocolonialism with Leslie Marmon Silko

Publication Date: 2024


Each of the lesson plans in this cluster brings together a pair or cluster of texts from the nineteenth century and the late-twentieth or twenty-first centuries in order to trace the continuities, frictions, and ruptures between the past and the present. In so doing, they provide numerous points of entry for helping students to think about the long durée of the Victorian period and the multiple issues and crises that crystallized in the period and that we are still grappling with today.

Most central in these discussions is the history and legacies of British imperialism and the codification of scientific racism, as the growth of the empire was driven by the logics of white supremacy and the drive toward ever-increasing colonial extraction.

The lesson plans highlight the diverse array of strategies that global, contemporary authors use to engage the past, including historical fiction, direct re-writings of Victorian novels, and more conceptually driven uses of archival materials. In each case, these formal strategies are situated within their historical, literary, and political contexts - all of which give students with compelling ways to grapple with connections between the Victorian era and the present, whether it's thinking about race and vampire fiction, depictions of ecological apocalypse, or the global circulation of Korean pop culture.

Certainly, we imagine that these clusters will be especially productive in courses that are organized around themes or genres, but we also imagine that they could be integrated productively into survey courses as well. Additionally, by including discussion questions and models of possible assignments, the lesson plans offer concrete strategies for helping students think about why studying the Victorian period matters and how it enhances our comprehension of the current moment.

In order to accomplish this work in the most responsible and rigorous ways possible, each of the lesson plans spend considerable time outlining how to contextualize each of the contemporary texts and read them in their own terms. While we anticipate that comparison to Victorian texts and sources will be the primary motivating factor in instructors taking up and adapting these lesson plans, we also want to emphasize that the meaning and significance of contemporary texts does not just derive from their relation to Victorian literary sources or histories.

For this reason, we have made every effort to provide materials that will allow teachers to present all of the various texts in the pairings/clusters with a sense of aesthetic and cultural parity. By pointing to resources and scholarship from outside Victorian studies, each lesson plan functions as a mini-syllabus for the learning and un-learning that “undisciplining” necessitates. We believe this is vital to the anti-racist and anti-colonial aims of not only this unit but the project of UVC as a whole, by recognizing and building these citational links and forms of intellectual commitment and solidarity.

As with all work on UVC, this lesson plan cluster was created through a process of careful and repeated collaboration. Each lesson plan went through two reviews during workshops held over Zoom, with multiple cluster participants reviewing each entry.

Tile/Header Image Caption

Parseghian, Abraham. Victorian Style Steampunk Computer. July 2018. Wikimedia Commons. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Page Citation (MLA)

Ryan D. Fong, Barbara Barrow, Renee Fox, Cherrie Kwok, Diana Rose Newby, Matthew Poland, Jessie Reeder, Oishani Sengupta, and Emma Soberano. “Undisciplining In and Through Contemporary Texts.” Undisciplining the Victorian Classroom, 2024, https://undiscipliningvc.org/html/lesson_plans/contemporary_undisciplining_introduction.html.