Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Bad Romance

Dark Romantic Author Nathaniel Hawthorne

Margaret Salesky, Lindsey Link | Published: May 31st, 2023 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 11th, 12th
  • Subject Subject English/Language Arts
  • Course Course American Literature


Day and night, yin and yang, love and despair, Biggie and Tupac—all opposite yet equal counterparts to one another. In this lesson, students explore the reaction to the American Transcendental movement, dark romanticism. They Jigsaw informational texts of this subgenre and come to a consensus on what main characteristics make up these texts. Students will then, with a critical eye, read two of the three stories from Nathaniel Hawthorne, "Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment," "The Wives of the Dead," and "Young Goodman Brown," looking for examples of the characteristics they determined previously. Finally, students create an op-ed on this genre through Blackout Poetry.

Essential Question(s)

How do the elements of Gothic literature reflect the dark side of romanticism? How did the “American Identity” change during the Romantic period?



Students sort quotes into two groups, transcendentalism or dark romanticism, using their prior knowledge. 


Students Jigsaw articles on the subgenre dark romanticism.


Students co-create a list of requirements for writing to fall within the subgenre.


Students read two short stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Why-Light specific areas that connect to their co-created list.


Students create an op-ed using an excerpt from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and a technique called Blackout Poetry.



Introduce the lesson by displaying the title slide 2 from the attached Lesson Slides.

Display slides 3–4. Review the essential question and the learning objectives.

Display slide 5 and share the instructional strategy Card Sort with students. Have students partner up and pass out the attached copies of the Card Sort. Instruct students to read through each of the quotes with their partners. Once they have read through all of the quotes, they should sort them based on whether they believe them to be written by a transcendentalist or a dark romanticist. You can use slides 6–13 to have a whole class discussion on each of the quotes.


Display slide 14 and introduce the Jigsaw strategy. Divide students into three groups and pass out copies of the linked readings (each student in the group should have a copy of the same reading).

Instruct students to read the articles individually and highlight any information that stands out to them as important that they will want to share with the group. After they have had ample time to read and gather their thoughts, move to slide 15 and have group members work together to discuss what they learned and synthesize what they want to share with the rest of the class.

Divide students into new groups of three so that each person in the new group has read a different article. Move to slide 16 and students take turns sharing with their new groups what they have learned from their reading.


Display slide 17 with students and share the instructional strategy Affinity Process with them. Pass out stacks of sticky notes to the class. Have students write down as many characteristics of the subgenre Dark Romanticism as they can think of. They should limit themselves to one characteristic per sticky note. There is a 3-minute timer on the slide for you to use. If you believe students may need more or less time, you can find additional timers on the K20 Center’s YouTube Channel.

Move to slide 18 once students have exhausted their knowledge. Ask students to work with a partner to compare their sticky notes. Instruct them to group similar sticky notes together. Label these as a category.

After pairs have completed their groupings, display slide 19. Have each pair combine with another pair, resulting in a group of four. Have these groups of four repeat the process.

At this time, groups share their big categories, or main characteristics for the subgenre dark romanticism. Create a whole class list on the board for them to refer to at a later time.


Display slide 20 and share with students that they are going to be reading two short stories today, both of which were written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Share some information about the author and ask students whether they have read anything else by the author.

Move to slide 21 and share the instructional strategy Why-Lighting with students. Instruct them to highlight examples throughout the reading that show that this story falls within the subgenre of Dark Romanticism. For each example they highlight, they should write in the margin their reasoning. Choose two of the three linked stories from CommonLit that you would like students to read at this time. 

Display slide 22 and have students discuss their annotations with a partner.


Display slide 23 and share the instructional strategy Blackout Poetry with students. Move to slide 24 and play the following video for students that explains how to create Blackout Poetry with Google Slides.

Once the video is over, use slides 25–27 to share a couple of completed examples with students. Move to slide 28, pass out an excerpt from The Scarlet Letter, and share the instructions for the activity with students.