This lesson introduces students to Achebe's first novel and to his views on the role of the writer in his or her society.
Learn how writer Zora Neale Hurston incorporated and transformed black folklife in her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. By exploring Hurston’s own life history and collection methods, listening to her WPA recordings of folksongs and folktales, and comparing transcribed folk narrative texts with the plot and themes of the novel, students will learn about the crucial role of oral folklore in Hurston’s written work.
Explore the Alaskan Gold Rush by "mining" EDSITEment resources for primary texts and period photographs. Just as writer Jack London discovered "metaphorical gold" in the Yukon, students can search several online databases for period details that will enhance their own narratives based on the Gold Rush era.
In F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, "class struggle" is portrayed as an intensely personal affair, as much a tension within the mind of a single character as a conflict between characters. Students' own experience of the struggle to belong can provide a starting point for an exploration of the mixed emotions--jealousy, admiration, desire, resentment--that characterize main character Nick Caraway's attitude towards the "secret society" of wealthy Easterners. Other lesson activities also include a close study of the text and an examination of Fitzgerald's letters and other statements.
A critic of writer Jack London called his animal protagonists “men in fur,” suggesting that his literary creations flaunted the facts of natural history. London responded to such criticism by maintaining that his own creations were based on sound science and in fact represented “…a protest against the ‘humanizing’ of animals, of which it seemed to me several ‘animal writers’ had been profoundly guilty.” How well does London succeed in avoiding such “humanizing” in his portrayal of Buck, the hero of his novel, The Call of the Wild?
Students learn about the social and historical context of Willa Cather’s My Antonia and work in groups to explore Cather's commentary on fortitude, hard work, faithfulness, and other values that we associate with pioneer life.
The Red Badge of Courage’s success reflects the birth of a modern sensibility; today we feel something is true when it looks like the sort of thing we see in newspapers or on television news.
In The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane presents war through the eyes —and thoughts —of one soldier. The narrative’s altered point of view and stylistic innovations enable a heightened sense of realism while setting the work apart from war stories written essentially as tributes or propaganda.
By studying Mark Twain's novel, Huckleberry Finn, and its critics with a focus on cultural context, students will develop essential analytical tools for navigating this text and for exploring controversies that surround this quintessential American novel.