Teaching Edgar Allan Poe? Or, are you a high school, college, or university student that’s been assigned Poe? This page is for you. Designed to be minimalist, this web page features and branches out to some of the best Poe material on the web, including some of my own essays, blog posts, and articles on the great Edgar Allan Poe.
My aim is to provide a style that’s… well… less boring than your traditional type of materials. I look for videos and analysis that have a bit of an edge to them — which seems fitting given Poe wrote with quite a sharp edge.
There’s a ton of information about Poe online, along with free access to his work, making it an excellent choice for a classroom unit given you can approach it from both a research and literary angle. There’s also well done audiobooks on Youtube for the struggling reader.
Who is Edgar Allan Poe?
It’s fitting that Poe’s life was complicated and his death a mystery. Given that Poe’s work is done in first person, it’s beneficial to understand whatever we can about the man that penned the narrators. Caution your students, or yourself, not to fall into the trap of referring to Poe as the narrator — understanding the author is merely a starting point for a deeper and more developed conversation about each piece rather than without.
Summary and Analysis of Poe's Work
Poe is complicated. Students will often lean on the superficial surface level interpretation of Poe’s work. Every literary guru knows there’s more to Poe if you dig a little further. However, it’s tough for a first-timer, or a university student just looking to snag that one mandatory English Literature course for their degree.
If you’re in a class that can handle a little crass, I recommend Wisecrack’s Thug Note series to help your students decode Edgar Allan Poe. Here’s an example of The Tell-Tale Heart.
The Tell-Tale Heart
I find that this can be taught to students as young as grade 7 to those in graduate studies. It’s short and pairs nicely with The Black Cat.
Tropes, Themes, Subjects, and Metaphors in Poe's Work (Spoiler Alert)
Victims are routinely buried in the residences of the murder. The Black Cat (basement) and Tell-Tale Heart (floorboards) follow this trope, while The Cask of Amontillado and the Fall of the House of Usher do feature family tombs. Why is this? Well, the victims aren’t literally skeletons in the narrator’s closet, but figuratively it might follow that metaphorical line.
Did you know this about Poe?
Poe wrote about The Big Bang Theory nearly 80 years before George Lemaitre presented it to Einstein. Adding to the intrigue, Poe published his thoughts on the subject in a “Poem” called Eureka, which is his longest work piece. On top of that, this was the last thing Poe wrote, and was published, before he died mysteriously — making the preface to the piece quite striking…
“To the few who love me and whom I love — to those who feel rather than to those who think — to the dreamers and those who put faith in dreams as in the only realities — I offer this Book of Truths, not in its character of Truth-Teller, but for the Beauty that abounds in its Truth; constituting it true. To these I present the composition as an Art-Product alone:- let us say as a Romance; or, if I be not urging too lofty a claim, as a Poem. What I here propound is true:- * therefore it cannot die:- or if by any means it be now trodden down so that it die, it will “rise again to the Life Everlasting.”
Nevertheless it is as a Poem only that I wish this work to be judged after I am dead.”
Here’s my thoughts on Eureka and Poe’s overlooked contribution to science through his primordial particle.
And here’s the Gutenberg link to Eureka: A Prose Poem by Edgar Allan Poe