Unit 4

Modern and Contemporary Literature: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien


English IV    

Unit Length and Description:


Nine Weeks


During this unit, students will read selections of modern and contemporary British literature, namely The Hobbit.  This piece not only embodies the traits of a modern British novel, but also reintroduces elements of fantasy and mythology that were presented in unit 1, bringing the year full-circle.  The unit will introduce the theme of unexpected journeys, ending with the students composing a narrative essay about their own unexpected journey as their culminating writing task.


This unit will focus on key ideas and details, craft and structure, and integration of knowledge and ideas.  Writing will predominately be narrative and argumentative in nature.




Focus Standards (Review any absent standards as needed)


Reading Literature


RL.11-12.4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including words with multiple meanings or language that is particularly fresh, engaging, or beautiful.


RL.11-12.5: Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.


RL.11-12.6: Analyze a case in which grasping point of view requires distinguishing what is directly stated in a text from what is really meant (e.g., satire, sarcasm, irony, or understatement).


RL.11.12.9: Demonstrate knowledge of foundational works of U.S. and world literature, including how two or more texts from the same period treat similar themes or topics.


Reading Informational Texts


RI.11-12.4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term or terms over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).


RI.11-12.5: Analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of the structure an author uses in his or her exposition or argument, including whether the structure makes points clear, convincing, and engaging.


RI.11-12.6: Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is considered particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the student interpretation of power, persuasiveness, or beauty of the text.


RI.11.12.8: Delineate and evaluate the reasoning in seminal U.S. texts, including the application of constitutional principles and use of legal reasoning (e.g., in U.S. Supreme Court majority opinions and dissents) and the premises, purposes, and arguments in works of public advocacy (e.g., The Federalist, presidential addresses).


RI.11.12.9: Analyze foundational U.S. and world documents of historical and literary significance for their themes, purposes, and rhetorical features.




W.11-12.1: Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

a.  Introduce precise, knowledgeable claim(s), establish the significance of the claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that logically sequences claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.

b.  Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly and thoroughly, supplying the most relevant evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience’s knowledge level, concerns, values, and possible biases.

c.  Use words, phrases, and clauses as well as varied syntax to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships between claim(s) and reasons, between reasons and evidence, and between claim(s) and counterclaims.

d.  Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.

e.  Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.


W.11.12.3: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.

a.  Engage and orient the reader by setting out a problem, situation, or observation and its significance, establishing one or multiple point(s) of view, and introducing a narrator and/or characters; create a smooth progression of experiences or events.

b.  Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, description, reflection, and multiple plot lines, to develop experiences, mood, tone, events, and/or characters.

c.  Use a variety of techniques to sequence events so that they build on one another to create a coherent whole and build toward a particular tone and outcome (e.g., a sense of mystery, suspense, growth, or resolution).

d.  Use precise words and phrases, telling details, and figurative and sensory language to convey a vivid picture of the experiences, events, setting, mood, tone, and/or characters.

e.  Provide a conclusion (when appropriate to the genre) that follows from and reflects on what is experienced, observed, or resolved over the course of the narrative.


W.11-12.6: Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products in response to ongoing feedback, including new arguments or information.


W.11.12.9: Draw relevant evidence from grade-appropriate literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

a.  Apply grades 11–12 Reading standards to literature (e.g., “Demonstrate knowledge of foundational works of literature, including how two or more texts from the same period treat similar themes or topics”).

b.  Apply grades 11–12 Reading standards to literary nonfiction (e.g., “Delineate and evaluate the reasoning in seminal U.S. and world texts, including the application of constitutional principles and use of legal reasoning [e.g., in U.S. Supreme Court Case majority opinions and dissents] and the premises, purposes, and arguments in works of public advocacy).


Speaking and Listening


SL.11.12.1: Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11–12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

a.  Come to discussions prepared, having read and researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence from texts and other research on the topic or issue to stimulate a thoughtful, well-reasoned exchange of ideas.

b.  Work with peers to promote civil, democratic discussions and decision-making, set clear goals and deadlines, and establish individual roles as needed.

c.  Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that probe reasoning and evidence; ensure a hearing for a full range of positions on a topic or issue; clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions; and promote divergent and creative perspectives.

d.  Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives; synthesize comments, claims, and evidence made on all sides of an issue; resolve contradictions when possible; and determine what additional information or research is required to deepen the investigation or complete the task.


SL.11.12.4: Present information, findings, and supporting evidence, while respecting intellectual property; convey a clear and distinct perspective, such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning, address alternative or opposing perspectives, and use organization, development, substance, and style that are appropriate to purpose, audience, and a range of formal and informal tasks.


SL.11.12.5: Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.




L.11.12.5: Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

a.  Interpret figures of speech (e.g., hyperbole, paradox) in context and analyze their role in the text.

b.  Analyze nuances in the meaning of words with similar denotations.


Enduring Understandings:


·        Modernists began to move away from certain traditions of the past and embrace new ideals.


·        During this era, the breakdown of old political and social systems left people feeling adrift and isolated, feelings which were communicated through certain pieces of literature born of this era.


·        Many authors with a “double heritage” struggled to maintain a sense of their own culture and traditions after being engulfed in those of the British.


·        Contemporary literature is written about issues and popular themes that we still see in today’s society.


·        Fantasy is a genre that appeals to all ages and is immune to society’s problems, making it timeless.


Essential Questions:


·        What does it mean to be modern?


·        How can political upheaval affect literature?


·        How important is culture?


·        What does it mean to be contemporary?


·        What is the appeal of fantasy?