“The Fall of the House of Usher“ in EFL Classroom

Saša Simović, Marija Mijušković


Edgar Allan Poe’s masterpiece “The Fall of the House of Usher” has always received great critical attention. It is a typical Poean Gothic story which exploits some of the writer’s most recognizable devices such as premature burial, “coming back” from the dead, the disintegration of the mind, the effect of doubling, special audio-visual effects, horror and decay, and the main protagonists as “isolato” characters detached from the realm of reality. The story was an excellent material to present the functioning of Poe’s theory of the short story in class. When it comes to teaching this masterpiece in the EFL classroom, research was conducted in an American literature lesson with third year university students of English as a foreign language. The aim of this research was to check whether the teaching procedure in the American literature class helps students to digest Poe's masterpiece more easily and to comprehend it successfully and whether students understand Poe’s theory of the short story as well as whether they consider it highly applicable to “The Fall of the House of Usher”. The participants of this study were 14 university students with English as their foreign language in their third year of studies who had attended the American literature course during one academic year. The researchers constructed a questionnaire as a tool to measure the extent of students’ understanding of Poe’s short story and the applicability of its postulates to “The Fall of the House of Usher”. The results of the study demonstrate that students improved in their identifying and comprehending the postulates of Poe’s short story and their applicability to “The Fall of the House of Usher”. This shows that the teaching approach, in the form of the described teaching procedure, was effective. The research implications for the EFL American literature classroom, concerning the short story aspect in Poe’s work, suggest that there is no disadvantage to the teaching procedure and only potential benefits are to be found. As a result, though, further research is necessary to demonstrate some other, different or additional ways to teaching Poe and reasons as to how and why the teaching methods work where a larger sample of students is included in the teaching and research.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n16p609

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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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