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5th Grade English- Tower Of The Elephant?


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#1 monk

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Posted 17 July 2011 - 03:17 AM

So what do you think? I would love to bring REH to my 5th Graders this summer, and am thinking ToE would be a great story to get them into it and hit some reading Objectives.

Any other teachers or educators out there ever take a stab at this? Am going to write up a 5 Step Lesson Plan and the whole nine yards. My students are into LotR and even one or two were reading some Warcraft mangas. I'd like to dose them with the real thing, and I don't see any reason why ReH isn't being taught as literature.
"I live, I BURN WITH LIFE, I love, I slay, and am content."
"Here's to brother Painbrush, we drink to his Shade..."
"All Art Is Martial"- RZA

"Our basic purist premise:
ROBERT E. HOWARD, ENTIRELY ALONE, WITHOUT ASSISTANCE FROM ANY OTHER PERSON, CREATED THE CHARACTER CONAN OF CIMMERIA. NO OTHER PERSON OR PERSONS SHOULD BE INTRUDING THEIR WORK INTO THE VOLUMES OF HOWARD'S CONAN STORIES.
In essence, we believe that the work of any creative artist -- writer, painter, illustrator, musician, what-have-you -- is a unique expression of an artistic point of view. It should not be appropriated or altered by others without the artist's consent. No other writer has Robert E. Howard's unique point of view, and no other writer knows what Howard would have done with his character had he lived. Upon his death, his canon, the expression of his artistic vision, became fixed. Tampering with it now is desecration."

#2 korak

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Posted 17 July 2011 - 07:24 AM

So what do you think? I would love to bring REH to my 5th Graders this summer, and am thinking ToE would be a great story to get them into it and hit some reading Objectives.

Any other teachers or educators out there ever take a stab at this? Am going to write up a 5 Step Lesson Plan and the whole nine yards. My students are into LotR and even one or two were reading some Warcraft mangas. I'd like to dose them with the real thing, and I don't see any reason why ReH isn't being taught as literature.

He's ideal, because ReH is mainly a short story author of imaginative subjects. You have to be careful though, because I read my first REH story about age 7 or 8, and it was so horrific that I went into hysterical sobbing and my mother had to take the book away from me. But it was the story The Dead Remember, about a cowboy who accidentally blows his own head off. I think that the fantasy of Tower of the Elephant would be pretty good for kids, although the part about Conan being a thief and killer might cause some of them to end up in the penitentiary. ;) But he's like a folk hero, not unlike Paul Bunyan or Hercules in that sense. His deeds are iconic myths. But anyway, just to make a long story short, I think that REH and HPL would work on kids the same way that Poe and Hawthorne do. They would get some exciting fantasy thrills and at the same time learn some big words. I actually did a lesson plan on Howard that used Frost Giant's Daughter, but it was for a college class, not elementary. They got a kick out of it, but don't be disappointed when you don't convert the whole class into Conan fans. I have found that my tastes are not always shared by everyone else. B)

Edited by korak, 17 July 2011 - 07:26 AM.


#3 Taranaich

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Posted 17 July 2011 - 11:30 AM

"The Tower of the Elephant" is an ideal choice, I think.

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#4 amster

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Posted 17 July 2011 - 03:08 PM

He's ideal, because ReH is mainly a short story author of imaginative subjects. You have to be careful though, because I read my first REH story about age 7 or 8, and it was so horrific that I went into hysterical sobbing and my mother had to take the book away from me.


Thanks for that. I needed a good laugh. :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Money and muscle, that's what I want; to be able to do any damned thing I want and get away with it. Money won't do that altogether, because if a man is a weakling, all the money in the world won't enable him to soak an enemy himself; on the other hand, unless he has money he may not be able to get away with it.
--Robert E. Howard to Harold Preece, ca. June 1928--

#5 Hawkbrother

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Posted 17 July 2011 - 03:59 PM

Its a great idea, introducing Howard to the Harry Potter generation.
Would have to be careful though with Howard and other similar writers of that era. Some of the ethnic characterizations would doubtless offend some people!
I speak from the point of view of one who lives in a community where there is a debate going on in a local public school system as to whether Arthur Conan Doyle's first Sherlock Holmes story A Study in Scarlet is suitable for a 6th grade reading list. Seems some Mormon parents complained and the school board is thinking of removing it from the reading list. The worst part of it is the attitude expressed by some that they not only didn't want their children reading it, they didn't think any children should be reading it.
A bit off the subject here, but the story immediately came to mind when the issue of teaching Howard in the schools came up.
Speaking of Holmes, I wonder what would have been the school board(Albemarle County,Va,home of Thomas Jefferson) if the story had been The Five Orange Pips and some parents who were in the Ku Klux Klan complained about how the story was unfair to that organization!

Edited by Hawkbrother, 17 July 2011 - 04:01 PM.


#6 korak

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Posted 17 July 2011 - 10:37 PM

Well, luckily there are several other volumes of Holmes stories they could go to if necessary, all great.

#7 korak

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Posted 17 July 2011 - 10:42 PM

Thanks for that. I needed a good laugh. :lol: :lol: :lol:

Yeah, and I had no idea who Howard was at the time. Later as a teen I was reading the Conan paperbacks and came across that story again. Speaking of racism, the cowboy outlaw in that story is, among many other vices, a racist, and calls the ghost of the black woman who causes his death "a high yellow gal." I never forgot that. Weird Tales could feature incredibly intense material. Love it! ;)

#8 Mikey_C

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Posted 18 July 2011 - 12:45 AM

I think its a great idea. All the literature I ever had to read at school was too dull for words. Maybe I can appreciate some of Thomas Hardy's poetry now, but not as a surly 14-year-old who would rather have been listening to the Clash. I used to sneak Isaac Asimov books into class and actually read them under the desk when the class was in progress, it was so dull! If only someone had introduced me to Howard.
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#9 KG Thunder

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Posted 18 July 2011 - 01:57 AM

I think it's a great idea, and I wish you luck with it. Despite the horror and some other elements, I think it would be fine for 5th graders, though it seems like these days parents complain about everything their kids are taught (but hey, just as long as they don't have to do it themselves!).

I remember in 5th grade I was really into Jules Verne, so I would draw my favorite scenes and my mom would hang them in her office at work. If I'd had a teacher cool enough to show me Conan back then, just imagine her coworkers walking by and looking at my drawings. "Um....What's a Yag-Kosha??" :lol:

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Posted 18 July 2011 - 04:33 AM

as a fifth grader I was loving me some Spiderman, Turok, Howling Commandos, Doom Patrol, Metal Men, Tomahawk, and Two Gun Kid! yay

I do recall reading Chessmen of Mars by Burroughs and some of the real early Conan pastiche and really diggin it

Edited by TheMIrrorThief, 18 July 2011 - 04:34 AM.


#11 Ironhand

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Posted 18 July 2011 - 06:54 AM

I think TotE is no more scary or horrific than some of the comics or TV shows that kids watch. But it's an intensely readable example of good language. Proof that good writing doesn't have to be boring.

(I, too, used to sneak my favorite books into English class to keep myself awake.)
"Did you deem yourself strong, because you were able to twist the heads off civilized folk, poor weaklings with muscles like rotten string? Hell! Break the neck of a wild Cimmerian bull before you call yourself strong. I did that, before I was a full-grown man...!" - Conan, in "Shadows in Zamboula", by Robert E. Howard
"... you speak of Venarium familiarly. Perhaps you were there?"
"I was," grunted [Conan]. "I was one of the horde that swarmed over the hills. I hadn't yet seen fifteen snows, but already my name was repeated about the council fires." - "Beyond the Black River", by Robert E. Howard

Read my Conan screenplays at The Scrolls of Ironhand (in particular my transcription of THE FROST GIANT'S DAUGHTER in Act II of "The Snow Devil") at
http://www.scrollsof...d.us/index.html or at
http://www.delicious...ic=ConanProject

#12 black dragon

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Posted 18 July 2011 - 05:44 PM

I think TotE is no more scary or horrific than some of the comics or TV shows that kids watch. But it's an intensely readable example of good language. Proof that good writing doesn't have to be boring.

(I, too, used to sneak my favorite books into English class to keep myself awake.)


It seems we're all in agreement. With all the sub-par crap kids watch today, Howard would actually show them how a good, tense story should be told. Alas, it would not be surprising if some parents objected to this, but they would have to read the stories for themselves to make any judgement; let's face it: most could not be bothered to make the effort. :angry:

#13 Officer Aggro

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Posted 18 July 2011 - 10:43 PM

I think it's a great idea, though some parents might have a problem with the bloody heart scene in one of their children's stories. Or some might even take it a step further and complain about "drugs" in the story with the wizard on Black Lotus. People get so touchy these days...
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#14 monk

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 12:43 AM

well i'm seriously going to give it a shot. i think TotE is a good entry, it's got some violence yes, and drugs, but kids study Poe lol.

I think if i go from the standpoint of Howard, and then Conan as the exemplar that represents his work, it will wash over better.

I just have to find an objective or standard that fist TotE and I'm good.
"I live, I BURN WITH LIFE, I love, I slay, and am content."
"Here's to brother Painbrush, we drink to his Shade..."
"All Art Is Martial"- RZA

"Our basic purist premise:
ROBERT E. HOWARD, ENTIRELY ALONE, WITHOUT ASSISTANCE FROM ANY OTHER PERSON, CREATED THE CHARACTER CONAN OF CIMMERIA. NO OTHER PERSON OR PERSONS SHOULD BE INTRUDING THEIR WORK INTO THE VOLUMES OF HOWARD'S CONAN STORIES.
In essence, we believe that the work of any creative artist -- writer, painter, illustrator, musician, what-have-you -- is a unique expression of an artistic point of view. It should not be appropriated or altered by others without the artist's consent. No other writer has Robert E. Howard's unique point of view, and no other writer knows what Howard would have done with his character had he lived. Upon his death, his canon, the expression of his artistic vision, became fixed. Tampering with it now is desecration."

#15 Ironhand

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 05:40 AM

As far as drugs are concerned, they have drugs in A Tale of Two Cities. In TotE, the black lotus should be ok, because it's the bad guy who's using it, and he's really bad and comes to a bad end.
"Did you deem yourself strong, because you were able to twist the heads off civilized folk, poor weaklings with muscles like rotten string? Hell! Break the neck of a wild Cimmerian bull before you call yourself strong. I did that, before I was a full-grown man...!" - Conan, in "Shadows in Zamboula", by Robert E. Howard
"... you speak of Venarium familiarly. Perhaps you were there?"
"I was," grunted [Conan]. "I was one of the horde that swarmed over the hills. I hadn't yet seen fifteen snows, but already my name was repeated about the council fires." - "Beyond the Black River", by Robert E. Howard

Read my Conan screenplays at The Scrolls of Ironhand (in particular my transcription of THE FROST GIANT'S DAUGHTER in Act II of "The Snow Devil") at
http://www.scrollsof...d.us/index.html or at
http://www.delicious...ic=ConanProject

#16 korak

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 05:46 AM

For that matter, Sherlock Holmes is famous for using drugs. But Tower of the Elephant is probably Howard's most popular Conan story for anthologizing, and was the story used for the Oxford Book of Fantasy. There is a new collection of weird stories from library of America series that collects American ghost and horror stories, and I think that Tower might be the one they used for it also. Anyone recall? It is often included because it is both a great story and pretty short.

#17 monk

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Posted 20 July 2011 - 01:02 AM

I'm checking now to make sure I can get some good objectives/alignment with the standards. I see a few that totally work, such as setting as pertains conflict and resolution. and I think it might be interesting to throw the comic adaptation in as well!
"I live, I BURN WITH LIFE, I love, I slay, and am content."
"Here's to brother Painbrush, we drink to his Shade..."
"All Art Is Martial"- RZA

"Our basic purist premise:
ROBERT E. HOWARD, ENTIRELY ALONE, WITHOUT ASSISTANCE FROM ANY OTHER PERSON, CREATED THE CHARACTER CONAN OF CIMMERIA. NO OTHER PERSON OR PERSONS SHOULD BE INTRUDING THEIR WORK INTO THE VOLUMES OF HOWARD'S CONAN STORIES.
In essence, we believe that the work of any creative artist -- writer, painter, illustrator, musician, what-have-you -- is a unique expression of an artistic point of view. It should not be appropriated or altered by others without the artist's consent. No other writer has Robert E. Howard's unique point of view, and no other writer knows what Howard would have done with his character had he lived. Upon his death, his canon, the expression of his artistic vision, became fixed. Tampering with it now is desecration."

#18 KG Thunder

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Posted 20 July 2011 - 03:56 AM

I'm checking now to make sure I can get some good objectives/alignment with the standards. I see a few that totally work, such as setting as pertains conflict and resolution. and I think it might be interesting to throw the comic adaptation in as well!

The old Savage Sword version is one of my favorite comic adaptations ever. The art and story telling is just great!

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#19 crossplain pilgrim

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Posted 20 July 2011 - 10:58 AM

Some years ago when I was teaching both US History and Language Arts (educational newspeak for English) I used "The God in the Bowl" for my 8th Graders. They loved it. I made a classroom set of the stories and kept them. A few years ago I tried to interest a young teacher in using them, as I am strictly a history guy these days. She was stunned that I would think of "Conan" as literature. I gave her the story, but I am pretty sure she never read it. And that was that.
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#20 korak

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Posted 20 July 2011 - 06:34 PM

When I was using Frost Giant's Daughter for a college report, I included run-off copies of the two comic book versions, censored and uncensored, which led to an interesting discussion of censorship in comics. And then, to my surprise, my English professor (who is a Blake specialist and familiar with decorative pen art) noticed other differences in the two versions, which I had to explain were made because of the difference in shading in B & W and color comics, and in the cropping necessary for the difference in page sizes. It took me by surprise though, when he noticed the art was different in other ways than just the nudity editing, and fortunately I recalled the probable explanation for it, from having studied about the Red Nails variants. Also funny was that my professor compared Howard's weird peoples with the iconic creations of Blake. :)