New Volume: Approaches to Teaching the Works of Jack London


This outstanding volume invites instructors to consider a much larger number of works than are generally assigned. It provides a solid grounding in the literary and historical context necessary for newcomers to London and fresh ideas for those who have taught the canonical texts before.”

—John Dudley, University of South Dakota

  • Editors: Kenneth K. Brandt, Jeanne Campbell Reesman
  • Contributors: Sam S. Baskett, Kenneth K. Brandt, Donna M. Campbell, Shannon Cotrell, María DeGuzmán, Robert M. Dowling, Anita Duneer, Andrew J. Furer, Sara S. Hodson, Jeff Jaeckle, Earle Labor, Paul Lauter, Debbie López, Michael Lundblad, Barry Menikoff, Keith Newlin, Jeanne Campbell Reesman, Terry Reilly, Alicia Mischa Renfroe, Gina M. Rossetti, Aaron Shaheen, Jay Williams


A prolific and enduringly popular author—and an icon of American fiction—Jack London is a rewarding choice for inclusion in classrooms from middle school to graduate programs. London’s biography and the role played by celebrity have garnered considerable attention, but the breadth of his personal experiences and political views and the many historical and cultural contexts that shaped his work are key to gaining a nuanced view of London’s corpus of works, as this volume’s wide-ranging perspectives and examples attest.The first section of this volume, “Materials,” surveys the many resources available for teaching London, including editions of his works, sources for his photography, and audiovisual aids. In part 2, “Approaches,” contributors recommend practices for teaching London’s works through the lenses of socialism and class, race, gender, ecocriticism and animal studies, theories of evolution, legal theory, and regional history, both in frequently taught texts such as The Call of the Wild, “To Build a Fire,” and Martin Eden and in his lesser-known works.

Published by the Modern Language Association:


Preface to the Volume (ix)


Editions (3)

Reference Works (7)


Introduction (17)

Intellectual and Cultural Contexts

Jack London, Celebrity, Sara S. Hodson

Teaching the Ideas in The Sea-Wolf, Keith Newlin

An Evolutionary Approach to The Call of the Wild and White Fang, Kenneth K. Brandt

Martin Eden: Portrait of the Artist, American Style, Barry Menikoff

Class, Politics, and Ideology

Jack London and Socialism, Jay Williams

Teaching The Iron Heel, Paul Lauter

Religion, Rationality, and the Course of History in Jack London’s The Iron Heel, Aaron Shaheen

“The Call of the Underworld”: Teaching Class, History, and Literary Naturalism in Jack London’s “South of the Slot,” Robert M. Dowling

Intersections of Race and Gender Androgyny and Sexuality in The Sea-Wolf, Anita Duneer

Experimental Narratives: “Samuel,” Donna M. Campbell

Teaching Contradictory Representations of Gender, Race, and Ethnicity in Martin Eden, Debbie López and María DeGuzmán

It’s a Family Affair: Nativism and Ethnic Panic in Jack London’s The Valley of the Moon, Gina M. Rossetti

Teaching London’s Margins: A Daughter of the Snows and Others, Andrew J. Furer

Representations of Gender in Two Versions of The Sea-Wolf, Jeff Jaeckle

Classroom Contexts

Legend to Lesson: Five Decades of Teaching Jack London, Earle Labor

The Nature of the Beast in The Call of the Wild, Michael Lundblad

In a Far Classroom: Using Jack London for an Ecocritical Approach to Teaching Composition, Shannon Cotrell

“To Build a Fire” and Questions of Genre, Terry Reilly

Teaching Jack London’s “Koolau the Leper” in a Doctoral Seminar, Jeanne Campbell Reesman

An Old Favorite in a New Context: Teaching London’s The Call of the Wild in a Law and Literature Class, Alicia Mischa Renfroe

Teaching Jack London across the Years and around the World, Sam S. Baskett