Instructor's Teaching Experience:

The Bloody Chamber usually takes up a little over a week of class time. We start by reading Carter’s essay “Notes from the Front Line,” and we talk about what she considers significant in reading and writing. I bring in a little bit of bio, and make sure to mention that Carter taught here at the University of Iowa for a semester in the 80s. Then we read both “The Bloody Chamber” and “The Lady of the House of Love” from the collection over the next week. We don’t read the whole collection of short stories, but I usually offer them the opportunity to write on another short story from the collection for their first paper if they want to. I build on their Reading Journal responses for our discussions for “The Bloody Chamber,” but I have an extensive in-class activity for “The Lady of the House of Love,” which I discuss below.

Reading Journal Prompt: Week One The Bloody Chamber

Instead of giving you all a prompt, you will write a Reading Journal Prompt on Angela Carter’s story “The Bloody Chamber.” But, you say, “how will a prompt even come remotely close to our usual entry word count?” Well, here are a few guidelines to writing a Reading Journal Prompt that starts productive conversations.

As you turn the pages of “The Bloody Chamber,” consider questions you have about the text. Productive prompts begin with the specifics of the text (words/phrases/things Carter references), and connects to the story’s structure as a whole—outline how your question goes from specific to overall structure for your reader (you can do this as a series of questions too). Write a potential answer to your reading prompt. Productive prompts should have multiple answers, but write one for this entry.

Reading Journal Prompt: Week Two The Bloody Chamber

How does Carter relate the heroine’s storyline to other similar stories that appear in the text? Identify one other literary character that Carter references, compare and contrast their stories to the heroine’s. Be as specific as you can be about “The Bloody Chamber,” engaging with the details of the text, and feel free to relate it back to what Carter is proposing in “Notes to the Front Line.”

“The Lady of the House of Love” In-Class Activity, around 75 min

Before students start the reading, ask them to pick an object that Carter describes in the short story and be ready to talk about it in the next class.

I call the activity “Object Lessons” in my slides, and it is essentially a variation of “Two Truths and a Lie” (one truth and one lie) that progresses from individual short writing exercise to small group discussion, to small group presentations and ultimately general discussion. The aim is to consider what makes Carter’s prose style unique by close-reading and attempting to write in a similar style/translate Carter into their own style.

Object Lessons: Individual Writing Exercise Prompt

I asked you to read “The Lady of the House of Love” and to pick a specific object, take a minute or two to write this down on an index card:

  • Carter’s words for the object (quote longer than one word and shorter than one sentence)
  • Three adjectives of your own, describing the object—pull out your phone and let the internet help you if needed.
  • A sentence describing what this object is used for/where it appears in the story.

Object Lessons: Individual Freewrite Exercise Prompt

Take a new index card, now write a “fake” version of the exercise you just completed. Invent an object that could exist but does not in the story, with

  • “Carter’s words” for the object (quote longer than one word and shorter than one sentence), feel free to get creative or look through the rest of the book for inspiration—you cannot use anything that actually appears in “The Lady of the House of Love”!
  • Three adjectives of your own, describing the object—pull out your phone and let the internet help you if needed.
  • A sentence describing what this object is used for/where it appears in the story, tie this to specifics in the story so it is more convincing!

** If there’s time, revise first object and the second so that the language between the two match.

Object Lessons: Small Group Discussion & Presentation Prompt

Get into groups of 3-4 people, present your pairs of cards at each other. Figure out the most convincing pairing of objects written by Carter and the Reader.

Your group will know which is which, and you will present to the class for them to guess (the idea is to be less convincing for Carter’s object and more convincing for the Reader’s object).

The team(s) who gets the majority of the class to mis-identify Carter/Reader wins (bragging points forever, I, if not Carter, would be proud of you).

The presentations are a great way to open up general discussion, so start by asking each presenting group to explain how they crafted the fake object, then lead into discussing the significance of what makes the fake object seem real (she can’t be wearing reading glasses, she wears shades instead because she’s a vampire etc.) and how Carter builds the world of the story.