2Is It Ironic, Alanis?Analyze the lyrics for Alanis Morissette’s song “Ironic.” Is it actually ironic? Consider the text’s definition of irony: an “incongruity in a character’s behavior or in society’s traditions. . .used to offer significant insight into human nature.”
3Anticipatory Questions If you could jump directly into a book you’ve read or a movie you’ve seen, what book or movie would you choose, and with which character would you choose to spend time? Why?
4Mini-lesson Meta “after; beyond; with; adjacent; self-” “concept which is an abstraction from another used to complete or add to the latter”What are “metaphysics,” “metacognition,” and “meta-language”?What do you think “metafiction” means? Why would an author write metafiction?
5Mini-LessonMetaphysics: abstract philosophical studies : a study of what is outside objective experienceMetacognition: awareness or analysis of one's own learning or thinking processesMetalanguage: a language used to talk about language
6Metafiction “beyond fiction” “fiction which refers to or takes as its subject fictional writing and its conventions”“fictional writing which self-consciously and systematically draws attention to its status as an artifact in order to pose questions about the relationship between fiction and reality explores a theory of writing fiction through the practice of writing fiction” (Patricia Waugh, Metafiction: The Theory and Practice”
7Mini-lesson: Madame Bovary Emma Bovary - The novel’s protagonist, the Madame Bovary of the title. A country girl educated in a convent and married to Charles Bovary at a young age, she harbors idealistic romantic illusions, covets sophistication, sensuality, and passion, and lapses into fits of extreme boredom and depression when her life fails to match the sentimental novels she treasures. She has a daughter, Berthe, but lacks maternal instincts and is often annoyed with the child. Occasionally, guilt or a memory of her simple childhood causes her to repent, and she becomes devoutly religious and dedicates herself to her husband and child. Such fits of conscience are short-lived. Emma’s desire for passion and pleasure leads her into extramarital affairs with Rodolphe and Leon. In addition, she runs up enormous debts against her husband’s property and commits suicide when she realizes she will be unable to repay them.
8Approach to ReadingDivide into 10 groups. Assign each group one page of the story (omitting the short final page). Choose a few consecutive lines of dialogue on the page (4-8 lines), assign parts, and read it aloud various ways until finding a way that befits Allen’s humor and the story as a whole. Read the lines aloud to the class. Describe the challenges inherent in delivering comedy (thereby examining the effects of humor).
9Journaling and Responding Record ten specific instances of irony in the story. Then identify the type of irony for each and consider what points Allen might be trying to make about society.
10Close Reading Consider the following questions: To what degree is “The Kugelmass Episode” metafiction?What role do the literary allusions serve?How does Allen play with the levels of narrative reality?How do these levels of reality affect the reader?What might he be suggesting about the nature of fiction?
11Discussion and Analysis Write a line from your journal on the board. For each, the class will discuss what is being implied about society.Explore a personal connection with the metafictional aspect of the story: Why is Kugelmass interested in meeting Emma Bovary? What function does she play in his life? What does this suggest about his relationship with fiction? To what extent do we identify and connect with the characters we encounter in fiction? What role do they play in our lives? What does this suggest about our relationship with fiction? To what extent can fictional characters and their stories change the lives of their readers?
12AP Exam PreparationIn his 1877 “An Essay on Comedy,” George Meredith stated: “The test of true comedy is that it shall awaken thoughtful laughter.” Write an essay which discusses the degree to which Meredith’s quote applies to “The Kugelmass Episode.”
13ExtensionHypothetical scenario: Woody Allen is making a film version of “The Kugelmass Episode.” Make the CD soundtrack by choosing or creating music which befits the mood and tone of the story and then justify your choices. You may have a single theme song or several songs to reflect various parts of the story. For an extra challenge, you may attempt to reflect the metafictional aspect of the story in your choice of music.