Re/Constructing Monopoly

In “Low Fidelity in High Definition: Speculations on Rhetorical Editions,” Casey Boyle presents methodological variations between critical editions and rhetorical editions. Notably, he examines how different scholars view fidelity, suggesting that traditional literary scholars tend to emphasize textual authenticity, while rhetoricians are most interested in foregrounding rhetorical effects. Specifically Boyle says, “as rhetoricians we are not as interested in what a text is as we are in what a text does” (127).

Because they open spaces for conversation that can engage both scholarly and public audiences, Boyle advocates for what he calls rhetorical editions, the goal of which is “not solely to faithfully capture and preserve but also to provide environments that re/construct texts as dynamic situations, confusing the primary, secondary, and tertiary” (132).

Learning Objectives

This lesson plan works to provide an environment in which students can engage with the practice of reconstructing texts as dynamic situations. By interacting with a number of iterations of the classic board game Monopoly, students will attempt to project and build knowledge about what Monopoly is, rather than simply interpret it.

Students will learn:

  • How/why to augment the humanities’ longstanding tradition of close reading and critical thinking with methods of speculation
  • Reading and writing methods that do not rely solely on spatial/temporal configurations of texts
  • Invention (or how to invent as a way of knowing)
  • Synthesis
  • Assignment Length

    One to two class meetings

  • Required Materials

    You will need the classic game Monopoly in at least a few different versions. If you plan to use a video game version, you will also need to obtain a game console, controllers, and cords from the DWRL.

  • Skills Necessary

    If using a video game version of Monopoly, instructors will be required to connect a game console to the projector (or another viewing source).

Access and Adaptability

This lesson plan could be easily adapted to forego Monopoly entirely by utilizing any text that takes on a number of forms/iterations (historical accounts, disparate translations, media adaptations, etc.).

If the instructor’s classroom is not supported by the digital technologies listed here, this lesson plan could also work with a variety of different versions of Monopoly the board game (Simpsons Monopoly, Golf Monopoly, Zombie-opoly, etc.).

Assignment Description

1. At the very beginning of the class, the instructor may ask students to share their existing schema about Monopoly, perhaps by using a think-pair-share strategy.
2. The instructor might also choose to play a few turns of one version of Monopoly with the class, pausing throughout the game in order to model the critical questions students will need to ask to complete the activity, such as “What characteristics are important for a game to have in order to be called Monopoly?”
3. At the end of the demonstration, the teacher should ask students to go around the room to play as many different versions of Monopoly as possible during the time allotted.
4. After playing several versions (can be done in one day or on multiple days), the instructor should give students some time to complete this Monopoly Analysis Chart.

Instructor Preparation

  • Gather required hardware and software
  • Connect video game console to the projector (if required)
  • Print Monopoly Analysis Chart

Student Preparation

  • None

In-Class or Assignment Instructions

  • Play at least a few different versions of Monopoly
  • Complete the Monopoly Analysis Chart
  • Speculate about how the characteristics of Monopoly might be remixed in order to create a different thing

Skills Workshop

Assessment Suggestions

During the lesson(s), students will complete the Monopoly Analysis Chart. The instructor can use the chart to assess student comprehension of the rhetorical features of the various texts and how well they are able to utilize those features in order to invent new ways of understanding Monopoly.

Discursive feedback should not merely focus on whether or not a version of Monopoly is “faithful” to the original. Rather, as Boyle suggests, approaching this inventive practice rhetorically should “embrace invention,” avoiding the “definitive, closed, or fixed” (132). In other words, in this case, students should be rewarded for not presuming that there is a stable center that is essentially Monopoly. Instead, students can show mastery by inquiring about the ways in which the “non-original” versions of Monopoly influence a reinvention of the “original.”


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