"Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward." -Kurt Vonnegut 

Vonnegut was imprisoned in a slaughterhouse in WWII and survived the Allied bombing of Dresden during his internment. This experience is one he returns to again and again in his works — both fiction and nonfiction.

Vonnegut's worldview is one that explores the depths of human's capacity for kindness and cruelty while often landing on an absurdist conclusion about the meaning of life.

In this class, we'll read four short stories and two novels (and likely some other excerpts) from Vonnegut.

Along the way, we'll explore how his worldview appears in his works and analyze literary themes while writing papers and giving student-led class lectures.

Read Several Texts

In this class, we’re going to read four of Kurt Vonnegut's short stories from the collection Welcome to the Monkey House, two novels (Mother Night and Slaughter-House Five), and some selections from his nonfiction essays in Armageddon in Retrospect.

Throughout the class, we'll be exploring the writing techniques Vonnegut uses as well as larger literary themes.

Dig Deep and Gain Analysis Skills

This class serves as practice for the type of deep dive students might take into a particular author in a college-level setting. 

Ages: 14-18

Class Size: 3-10 Learners

Time Commitment

Most learners can expect to spend 5-7 hours per week (including the live meeting) working on class materials. 

(This class will meet or exceed 60 hours of coursework to count as 0.5 credits of high school ELA).

Live Sessions Meet on Mondays

Class is weekly from January 30-May 7 with a spring break from March 13-19. There is no meeting on Monday, March 13. There are 13 total live meetings.

We’ll meet via Zoom for a live discussion session each Monday at 3-3:45pm Eastern/2-2:45pm Central/1-1:45pm Mountain/12-12:45pm Pacific

If a learner cannot attend a session due to illness or a schedule conflict, they will still have access to all class materials and can check in with the instructor with any questions. 

Assignments Open Each Week

In order to allow for learners and their families to have the flexibility they need, assignments open by Monday of each week and are due by the following Sunday. Learners can complete work at whatever time works best for them throughout the week.


To participate successfully in class, learners will need the following:

  • Copies of the following books (all by Kurt Vonnegut):
  • Armageddon in Retrospect (ISBN 978-0-425-22689-6)
  • Welcome to the Monkey House (ISBN 0-385-33350-1)
  • Slaughterhouse-Five (ISBN: 978-0-385-33384-9)
  • Mother Night (ISBN: 978-0-385-33414-3)

(Note: There are multiple editions of some of these. Any should work.)

  • Microphone and camera for in-class participation
  • PDF Reader
  • Zoom (free account)
  • Learners will submit work through Google Drive (a Google (Gmail) account can be acquired for free)

Select a pricing plan and sign up