6 Degrees of Allusions

Like six degrees of separation or six degrees of Kevin Bacon, the goal of this game is to link six separate works through their literary allusions.

The key element here would be to get students playing early on and reading/watching/viewing/listening to lots of things with this lens turned on. This may even be a decent reason to use Prezi as an authoring tool to get at mixed media embedding and connecting with text and the benefit of zoom levels.

Two possible options follow . . .

Option one is to link the works through common literary allusions. For example, the myth of Icarus could be used to tie a variety of disparate1 works together. This becomes a more interesting English assignment as you compare the ways in which the allusion is used by the various authors/artists.

With Icarus as the central theme, I might connect the following.

The Letting Go – One of the stories from The Moth2 about an oncologist dealing with death in America submitted under the theme Too Close to the Sun. Here I should get points for audio, modern, and either philosophy or science.

Breugel’s painting The Fall of Icarus (maybe this doesn’t count as an allusion) but it connects in poems by Auden and W.C. Williams. I might count this as one item.

I would have at least two episodes of the The Simpson’s to choose from. Law & Order is also an option.

There are some interesting arguments about the Led Zepplin/Swan Song logo (modeled after the Rimmer painting) and whether it represents Icarus or not.

Iron Maiden has a song entitled “Flight of Icarus” which has a darker take on the traditional story.

The Icarus Project also tempts me in a variety of ways.

And you have many, many other options.

Option two, would be to chain allusions in a circle. So you’d start with a work that has Icarus as an allusion and tie it to a work with an Icarus allusion and one other allusion (let’s say Midas for this example). Midas would then tie you to your next work and so on and so forth until your 6th piece links you back to Icarus.


1 I’d force this idea pretty hard and ask for multiple media types, time periods, styles etc.

2 Awesome podcast that any teacher will useful although content at times isn’t k12 appropriate so you’ll want to preview things.

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