1st Edition

GCSE Literature Boost: A Christmas Carol Using Critical Theory at GCSE

By Haili Hughes Copyright 2024
    214 Pages 2 Color & 42 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    214 Pages 2 Color & 42 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    214 Pages 2 Color & 42 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    GCSE Literature Boost: A Christmas Carol uses academic criticism and theory to relight your literary passion for this classic text and put a newfound excitement in your pedagogy. Beginning with a whistlestop tour of literary theory and criticism from 400BC to the late 20th century, Hughes explains how you can introduce your GCSE English students to themes most often reserved for undergraduate courses, improving their understanding of the text and broadening their knowledge of the subject as a whole.

    Written in easily digestible chunks, each chapter considers a main theme or section of Charles Dickens‘ A Christmas Carol through different critical lenses summarising the relevant academic theories, and shows how you can transfer this knowledge to the classroom through practical teaching ideas. Features include:

    • Case studies showing how English teachers have used academic theory in practical ways.
    • Ideas for teaching linked to GCSE assessment objectives at the end of each chapter.
    • Six key points at the end of each chapter that highlight the key takeaways from that chapter.
    • Real examples of student work which can be used as models and exemplars.

    This is essential reading for all secondary English teachers looking to create a climate of high expectations and improve their students’ knowledge and understanding of the big ideas in literature.

    1. Introduction  2. A whistlestop tour of some different theoretical lenses  3. Some theoretical lenses and ‘A Christmas Carol’  4. What might a critical theory journey through the English Literature curriculum look like?  5. Case Studies  6. The forgotten ghost – the importance of Marley  7. Religious ideology and Dante in A Christmas Carol  8. Scrooge and the parallels between the Book of Job  9. Ebenezer misunderstood?  10. Authorial craft: Dickens the master of his craft  11. “God bless us, every one!” An exploration of the Cratchit family  12. It’s all in the name  13. Food glorious food! Feast and famine in A Christmas Carol  14. Suffer the Little Children: the depictions of children in A Christmas Carol  15. It’s the most wonderful time of the year


    Haili Hughes is an academic at the University of Sunderland, Director of Education at IRIS Connect and was an English teacher for sixteen years. She has written five education books, speaks all over the world and advises the DfE.

    "A detailed and thorough exploration of the ways in which literary theory can be applied to the text, along with practical examples of how it impacts teaching.  The essays in particular have the power to revive and reinvigorate our approach to teaching one of Dickens' most popular works."

    - Richard McDonald, Trust Assistant Principal

    "Grappling with critical responses deepens students’ understanding of literary texts. Unfortunately, busy English teachers don’t have the time to scrabble around for critical resources. Well, now, they’re in luck. In this clever, hugely practical book, Haili Hughes pulls together everything English teachers need to teach A Christmas Carol in a stimulating way."

    - Mark Roberts, Director of Research and English teacher, Carrickfergus Grammar School

    "GCSE English Literature Boost is perfect for the busy classroom teacher who wants a CPD boost on ‘A Christmas Carol’. Broken down into quick, rich and easily digestible sections, you can snack on a bit during a free lesson or gorge on the whole lot in one go. Haili Hughes has done the research and reading so you don’t have to, saving you so much time in the long run. Crammed full of interesting nuggets of knowledge, interpretations and insights on the text, you’ll want to read it again and again. I foresee it being a book that is well-thumbed.

    The book proves that you don’t need to be visited by four spirits in the night to change how you teach ‘A Christmas Carol’."

    Chris Curtis, Head of English and author

    "It’s simply superb, a text that will be returned to by English teachers again and again. Hughes has not only made literary criticism accessible and exciting but offers true insight into how this could be applied in the classroom. A real treat for us all!"

    - Stuart Pryke, Assistant Principal and author

    "A must-read for any English teacher interested in using critical theory to support their students' interpretations of Dickens' seminal text. Haili has given teachers the knowledge - and crucially the tools - to embed a range of critical lenses to the study of A Christmas Carol on a plate. Clever, unashamedly academic and gloriously accessible to implement into your teaching tomorrow."

    - Donal Hale, Curriculum Leader for English

    "If you want your students to excel in not only their study of 'A Christmas Carol' but also in their understanding of how literature works, you need this book! It acts as both a way to improve your own subject knowledge but also offers simple strategies and ideas which you can implement in your classroom tomorrow. Much like Scrooge's flint-like exterior at the start of the book, it's often hard to really crack the critical explorations of texts with GCSE students, but Haili has made it accessible for teachers and students alike. This book will become an English teacher staple!"

    - Laura Webb, Head of English

    "Haili Hughes' book is everything you have been waiting for as an English teacher. Hughes expertly explores critical theory and concepts in 'A Christmas Carol' and provides teachers with real gems to teach highly exciting and challenging lessons. The case studies provide further examples of how colleagues can successfully use critical theory in their lessons and is a valuable resource for all English teachers. Not only can this be used by English teachers to support their classes but it can also be used by Heads of English to support their teams to  enhance their subject knowledge. What an incredible resource!"

    - Yamina Bibi, Assistant Headteacher, Sarah Bonnell School

    "A well-researched book that will be invaluable to all teachers of A Christmas Carol. I found the work on communicating theoretical lenses in the classroom immediately useful in helping my younger access higher level text discussion. The case studies demonstrate that this is an approach that is possible to implement in a time-pressured department and one that will be successful regardless of prior attainment. Hughes’ combination of pedagogical and academic knowledge and experience is second to none. All English departments need this book."

    - Heidi Drake, Head of English, Colchester Royal Grammar School

    "Haili has carefully and insightfully constructed for English departments and students of Literature everywhere an opportunity to explore and deepen our understanding of A Christmas Carol. This resource will allow us to journey through philosophy, etymology and theoretical perspectives in a way that will strengthen confidence in analytical articulation."

    - Sarah Davies, Assistant Headteacher and Author

    "This book is an absolute gem for English teachers everywhere. Hughes has distilled critical theory perfectly, making it accessible, and demonstrating how we can use these perspectives in our classrooms to support student understanding and interpretations of A Christmas Carol. For busy teachers, this is an absolute must. It truly is a powerhouse of a text, and one I know I will return to time and time again."

    - Amy Staniforth, Vice Principal and author

    "This is a thorough and robust tool to use when trying to reinvigorate the teaching of A Christmas Carol. The book is punctuated extremely well with useful resources that have helped reshape and galvanise my teaching of the subject. The chapter on critical theory in the classrooms provided granular insight into being able to approach the text from a completely new lens. This will become a must-read for the department."

    - Luke Jones, Head of Department: English

    "What an invaluable book for teachers of English! This is such an important resource and will quickly become the go-to compendium of literary theory and its practical application in lessons. Hughes has written a book that is unapologetically rigorous, supporting teachers to share the transformational potential of exploring the full range of meanings in literature through critical lenses. We will definitely be buying a copy for the English departments in our Trust! Bravo!"

    Tracy Goodyear, Director of Teacher Development, The Mercian Trust

    "GCSE Literature Boost: A Christmas Carol combines no nonsense thematic analysis with theoretical readings to stretch the most able (and teachers!) woke. Haili Hughes takes you through the key aspects of the Dickensian text in clear, uncomplicated language, challenging you with contextual factors you may not have considered before. Practical and thought-provoking in equal measure."

    - Hetty Steele, Head of Drama

    "One of the key skills for accomplished students of English literature is the ability to form a complex conceptual understanding of a text informed by wider contextual and theoretical considerations. This brilliantly accessible book provides the ambitious GCSE student with a highly applicable and understandable set of approaches to achieve that sophisticated knowledge and understanding through the lens of a familiar text. Highly recommended."

    - Dr Carl Hendrick, Academica University of Applied Sciences, Amsterdam