57 pages 1 hour read

Jeffrey Zaslow, Randy Pausch

The Last Lecture

Nonfiction | Essay / Speech | Adult | Published in 2008

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Teacher Introduction

The Last Lecture

  • Genre: Nonfiction; Autobiography; Inspirational
  • Originally Published: 2008
  • Reading Level/Interest: College/Adult
  • Structure/Length: Approximate 206 pages; approximately 4 hours and 36 minutes on audiobook
  • Central Concern: Randy Pausch, a computer science professor diagnosed with terminal cancer, delivers a final lecture titled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” Rather than focus on death, he chooses to impart life lessons and insights about realizing one’s dreams, overcoming obstacles, and valuing every moment. The book expands on the themes from the lecture, offering personal anecdotes and advice.
  • Potential Sensitivity Issues: Discussion of terminal illness and impending death; emotional and poignant reflections on life, dreams, and family

Randy Pausch, Author

  • Bio: Born 1960; died 2008; computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University; specialized in virtual reality and human-computer interaction; diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which led to his famed “Last Lecture” and subsequently the book
  • Other Works: While The Last Lecture stands as Randy Pausch’s most well-known work, he has authored various academic papers in his field.

CENTRAL THEMES connected and noted throughout this Teaching Guide:

  • The Pursuit of Childhood Dreams
  • The Importance of Positive Thinking
  • Working Together

STUDY OBJECTIVES: In accomplishing the components of this Teaching Guide, students will:

  • Explore the concept of “the good life” before reading and analyzing The Last Lecture.
  • Discuss and analyze nonfiction textual elements and rhetorical devices such as claim and counterclaim, audience, purpose, occasion, aphorism, and anecdote, and construct essay topics connecting these elements to themes.