The World Turned Upside Down: Exploring Alternate History with Young Adults
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The purpose of this article is to discuss the theoretical, educational and creative aspects of an alternate history creative writing project with young adults, based on Terry Pratchett’s fantasy novel Nation (2008). First, we focus on the potential of the project as a platform for studying how close teenage audiences are to ideal readers of utopian texts who, as Kenneth Roemer (2003) characterizes them, ‘approach literary utopias as opportunities todiscover questions, ambiguities, and contradictions out of which they imagine their own models of utopia’ (p. 2). We also see the proposed project as a useful tool both to promotethe knowledge of world history and to provoke a reflection on contributions of individuals to larger historical processes. Moreover, we discuss the project as a means to develop those English language skills necessary for students to construct narratives, express causality,and formulate hypothesis or predictions. Finally, we confront the assumptions underpinning the project with students’ reactions to the novel, as recorded during an initial workshop, and with their creative work in English following the workshop.
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