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School Topics

EDUCATION n. That which discloses to the wise and discloses from the foolish their lack of understanding.

About This Section / Grade-High School / Collegiate-Graduate

About This Section

Most people get introduced to Bierce through school assignments, usually reading "An Occurence At Owl Creek Bridge" or The Devil's Dictionary. And many of the people who come to this site do so for information relating to school projects and reports. In order to better encourage schoolwork on Bierce on all levels, I've put together this section, which contains potential Bierce subjects for English assignments.

One caveat is that outside of surviving a Jesuit education and holding a BA degree, I have no instructional education background. The grade levels are merely suggestions. While Bierce is somewhat advanced for most early grade school, it is certainly appropriate for some later classes.

Although I include stories or research volumes as starting points for most of these ideas, I will under no circumstances complete assignments for students -- but I am available to offer help or personal opinions.

Unless fully listed here, all of the books referenced have full bibliographic information available in the Bierce Bibliography.

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Grade-High School

  • How does Ambrose Bierce trick you into not knowing the ending to an "Occurence At Owl Creek Bridge"? ("An Occurence At Owl Creek Bridge")
  • What bad things happened in Ambrose Bierce's life that may have contributed to his cynicism? (Life of Bierce)
  • What definitions in The Devil's Dictionary relate to events in Ambrose Bierce's life? (Devil's Dictionary)
  • Ambrose Bierce has been said to be the first author to de-glamorize war. How do his war stories reflect this? ("Chickamagua," "A Horeseman in the Sky," "The Coup de Grace")
  • How do Ambrose Bierce's fables compare to those of George Ade? (Humor In America Edited by Enid Veron, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Publishers, New York: 1976)
  • Who killed Moxon in "Moxon's Master"? ("Moxon's Master")

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  • How does Ambrose Bierce's poetry hold up to his own standards? (Poems of Ambrose Bierce, Ed. Grenader, 1995)
  • How do Ambrose Bierce's fictional war stories compare to his non-fiction accounts? (Tales of Soldiers and Civilians; Sole Survivor: Bits of Autobiography, Ed. Joshi and Schultz, 1998)
  • Where does The Devil's Dictionary fall within the spectrum of American humor? (Devil's Dictionary; Humor In America Edited by Enid Veron, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Publishers, New York: 1976)
  • How do Bierce's political satires give insight into his own political beliefs? (The Fall of the Republic and Other Political Satires Ed. Joshi and Schultz, 2000)
  • How does Bierce's specific use of language affect film adaptations of his stories? (Barnett, From Fiction to Film: Ambrose Bierce's "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge", 1973)
  • How important to "crusader journalism" was Bierce's fight against Huntington? (Lindley, Ambrose Bierce Takes on the Railroad: The Journalist As Muckraker and Cynic, 1999)
  • How do the four 1929 biographies paint different portraits of Ambrose Bierce? (DeCastro, Portrait of Ambrose Bierce; Grattan, Bitter Bierce: a Mystery of American Letters; McWilliams, Ambrose Bierce: A Biography; Neale, The Life of Ambrose Bierce)
  • Does Bierce's manipulation of perception make him a precursor to the postmodernist writers? (Davidson, The Experimental Fictions of Ambrose Bierce: Scrutinizing the Ineffable, 1984)

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