Closer Readings

405 Result(s)
Engaging with Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson is an exemplary author whose essays may be used to fulfill the ELA informational texts requirement for the Common Core. Here are some ways teachers can engage 21st-century students with Emerson’s thinking and rhetoric.

Truth and Memory in the Mississippi Delta: What the Emmett Till Case Means Today

On the same day when the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other national media outlets announced the reopening of the Emmett Till case, 36 K-12 educators from across the country were gathered for a panel discussion in the Tallahatchie County Courthouse, where the Till murder trial took place in 1955.

What Does It Mean to Be American?

The story of America—its founding, its shaping, its mythology—is told in many ways. Their influence may not always be obvious, but artists and their works have played an essential, powerful role in telling some of these stories.

“Facing the Lion”: A Memoir That Speaks Volumes about Effective Storytelling and Autobiographical Writing

In 2003 the National Geographic Society published a memoir called Facing the Lion by Joseph Lemasolai Lekuton in which the author describes growing up on the savannah in northern Kenya along the southern border of Ethiopia and leading a nomadic life as a member of the Maasai people. The memoir—included on NEH’s list of favorite nonfiction titles—has elements of interest to middle grade readers from age eleven to fifteen, including adventure and danger.

Pulitzer Prize-winning Book of Poetry—“Olio”— Is a Liberating Experience

The 2017 winner of the Pulitzer Prize in poetry, Olio by Tyehimba Jess, “melds performance art with the deeper art of poetry,” explains a statement from the judges, “to explore collective memory and challenge contemporary notions of race and identity.” English teachers will find a wealth of source material in the book’s bibliography—from slave narratives to histories of the music of black Americans—to supplement the study of the poems themselves, which offer vibrant typography, innovative and highly original forms, and a collection of voices that sing of both the pain of enslavement and the joy of freedom.

The Things They Carried: Tim O’Brien’s Vietnam War Novel Endures

Critics have hailed The Things They Carried as one of the finest examples in American literature of writing about war. O’Brien served in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970, and, in The Things They Carried, wrote a co-created collection of linked stories that reads like a memoir. Used in high school literature and history classrooms across the U.S., our essay offers analysis of this popular book. 

War Literature: Being There or Not

Literature about war—whether the lived experience of the author or not—has over the centuries taken the form of many genres: epic, tragedy, comedy, narrative poetry, history play, novel, short story, memoir, and lyric poetry. While reading works from Homer’s Iliad  to Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, students can benefit from identifying not only the wide variety of genres depicting battle and its consequences but also from recognizing the stark contrasts these genres can represent in tone, style, point of view, and intent. Students may also find it of value to consider the war experience, if any, of the authors in question.

Lincoln’s Enduring Legacy

On April 14 we commemorate the death of Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865). The years in which Lincoln served as president, 1861–1865, were among the most momentous in America’s history. A month after his election, South Carolina seceded from the Union, triggering a four-year conflict that would leave nearly a million Americans dead or wounded, four million slaves free, and a nation changed forever.

Gary Snyder Found His Voice as a Poet with Poems Set in the American West

Is there anything more distinctive in American poetry than hearing a recording of Robert Frost reading one of his own poems? Video clips and recordings from the sixties capture the distinctive voice at public readings, where Frost’s voice and the poem he’s reading aloud become one and the same. The lines, we feel while listening, were written for Frost, not just by him. Frost, much earlier, had discovered what he had to say as a poet—he had discovered his voice. The elderly Frost reading with such ease belies the painstaking efforts a young poet must take to find his or her own voice.