Face Life | Face Reality – On Horror and Essay Writing

Eggleston Big Wheels

STX Engelsk (1g)

Morten Mølgaard Pedersen and Maria Faurholm, Aarhus Katedralskole


According to the English writer C.K. Chesterton “Fairy tales are more than true: Not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” Face Life, Face Reality explores issues of growing up through horror, fantasy and classic fiction and combines these with an introduction to literary analysis and writing.

The aim of the module is to provide students with a grounding in key analytical terms (narrator, point of view, character, setting and mood) and treat these in a series of workshops with specific focal points in relation to the process of writing an analytical essay. At the end of the module all students hand in essays on Neil Gaiman’s short children’s novel Coraline (2002). The novel is read in sections at home and in long read sessions in class.

In the final part of the module, the idea of coming to terms with life is explored through a comparison of Snicket and Gaiman’s worlds of fantasy and the realistic treatment of similar themes in Hemingway’s short story “Indian Camp”.

Core Texts

Lemony Snicket, “Something you ought to know” (Flash Fiction, 2009)
Neil Gaiman, Coraline (Novel, 2002)
Ernest Hemingway, “Indian Camp” (Short Story, 1921)
Harry Selick (Dir.), Coraline (Animated Film, 2009)

Secondary Materials

Anne-Mette Finderup; Agnete Fog, Worlds of Fantasy (Systime, 2005)
Jesper Engsted, The Writer – Håndbog i skriftlig engelsk (Columbus, 2017)
Johanna Engberg-Pedersen et al, “Toolbox” in Wider Contexts (Gyldendal, 2012)
William Eggleston, “Big Wheels” (Photography, 1970)

Course Overview

  • Lesson 1: Character and Mood: William Eggleston, “Big Wheels” + Lemony Snicket, “Something you ought to know”
  • Lesson 2: Setting, Mood and Types of Narrator + Long Read Session #1: Coraline
  • Lesson 3: Coraline, Chapters 1-4: Voice, setting, mood.
  • Lesson 4: Coraline, Chapters 1-4: Narrator and the Protagonist
  • Lesson 5: Coraline, Chapters 5-7: Characters and symbolism (otherworld)
  • Lesson 6: Coraline, Chapters 8-10: Themes
  • Lesson 7: Coraline, Chapters 1113: Argumentation (PEE – Types of quotes, Causality in arguments (a > b > c), Concluding sentence)
  • Lesson 8: Transition signals (linkers) + Relation to topic (Face Life | Face Reality)

Hand in Essay

  • Lesson 9: Coraline (Animated Film)
  • Lesson 10: Hemingway, “Indian Camp”
  • Lesson 11: Hemingway, “Indian Camp”
  • Lesson 12: Facing Life – Fantasy vs. Reality