In the WebQuest, you will complete three projects. In these projects you will explore different aspects of Merton's life and then attempt to discover who the real Thomas Merton was.

Project One: The Individual Diary

For your first project, you will write a diary as if you were Thomas Merton. In it you will record different events in his life and his feelings about or reactions to those events.


Do you know what a diary is? Do you know what one looks like? It will help if you begin by looking at some examples of diary pages. You will find a link to Alice Williams' Diary below. Your entries should be a little longer than some of these, but they do not need to be pages long each.

Alice Williams' Diary


Then read "The Seven Storied Thomas Merton" if you haven't done so yet. You do not have to understand every word of it, but pay special attention to the four different aspects of Thomas Merton's life that he discusses.

"The Seven Storied Thomas Merton"


Next, each member of the group must assume the role of one of the "Mertons" Mr. Royal wrote about. One member of the group will write a diary from the point of view of Merton, the contemplative, in which he discusses the activities in Merton's life related to his life as a monk. Another will write as Merton, the writer, and discuss events in his literary career. A third will write as Merton, the social activist, and write about his involvement in social causes. The final member will write as Merton, the bohemian, and discuss people and events in less traditional periods of his life.

If you cannot decide among yourselves who will become which Merton, consider doing it on the basis of age. The oldest student could be the contemplative; the next oldest, the writer; the third oldest, the social activist; and the youngest, the bohemian or artist.


Now you need to think about the kinds of diary entries you will make. What would Merton the Contemplateive or Merton the Writer have written about? What would have been important to Merton the Social Activist and Merton the Bohemian? In your diary you will record some of the events of Merton's life and his ideas related to those events. You do not need to discuss every event in his life, only the ones related to the "Merton" you are.

No matter which "Thomas Merton" you are, you can find some information to start with at these sites:

The Legacy of Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton, Celebrity Monk

Thomas Merton's Red Diary

Faith Fired by Literature

Thomas Merton's Life and Works
Environmental Decline and Christian Contemplation

About Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton

Making and Remaking the Many Masks of Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton: Prayer and Image

A Hidden Wholeness

Thomas Merton's Contemplative Struggle

A Man For All Seasons

The person who will be "Merton the Contemplative" should also look at these sites:

Merton's Message

Merton's Reflections

The person who will be "Merton the Writer" should also look at these sites:

Thomas Merton: The Earliest Stories

Thomas Merton's Marian Poetry

Thomas Merton: Writings

The person who will be "Merton the Social Activist" should also look at these sites:

Thomas Merton: A Brief Biographical Sketch
Merton's Message

A Pilgrimage of Faith

The person who will be "Merton the Bohemian and Artist" should also look at these sites:

Thomas Merton: Something of a Rebel

A Man For All Seasons


Now that you have information about your "Merton", open a Word document and begin to write your diary entries. You will discuss events that took place over the space of many years, so don't expect to have daily entries in your diary. Be sure to date them according to when the actual events took place: when a book was published, for example.
Don't forget to save your document.

Project Two - The Combined Diary

Now that you have each completed your individual diaries, it is time to put them together to give us a complete picture of who Thomas Merton really was. To do this, you will use Writely.

The first step is to upload your diary to Writely. If you forget how to do this, ask me.

Next, invite the other memebers of your group to collaborate on your document.

Once you all have access to each others' diaries, you must first look at them to be sure they give information about the different aspects of Merton's life. If one diary seems to be weak, the group should try to help the writer find more information.

Once that is done, it is time to begin to decide how the separate diaries go together. You will want to make sure that the entries in the final diary are in chronological order. There may be several entries for a date, each for a different Merton. If that is the case, you will have to consult as a group and decide whether to include all of them or not and in what order to include them. You may want to look at this guide if you are having difficulty making these decisions.

When you have compiled all the entries into one big diary, be sure to check it for spelling or other errors you might have made.

Project Three - The Paper

Now that you have a complete diary for Thomas Merton, each of you will write a 1-2 page paper to answer this question:

Who was the real Thomas Merton?

Look back at the diary you compiled to give you information and ideas. Remember to proofread your paper when you are done.

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