When we think of using primary source oral histories in our classrooms, there is one resource that is often overlooked but ideally suited to the world history, civics, or global studies curriculum -- the oral histories of our diplomats.
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.
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.
Fifty years ago, many young men like Tim O’Brien, author The Things They Carried—published in 1990—were drafted into the army and later served in what was increasingly becoming an unpopular war. Today, in times of a volunteer army, many aspects of the military have changed. For one thing, women now serve in combat roles, too.
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.
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.
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.
In France and Germany in the latter half of the nineteenth century, newspapers—printed matter in general, in fact—underwent dramatic and dynamic changes. For newspapers, readership had increased greatly, and the feuilleton (pronounced, fuh-ya-tawn)—a section often starting at the bottom of the front page and continuing on the back, offering lively reportage, criticism, or serialized novels—attracted a diversity of readers who came to rely on these “little sheets of paper” as a mirror held up to society that reflected and refashioned its tastes, opinions, and quirks.
Planning to visit the U.S. Capital in person this spring? If so, the official National Park Service app for the National Mall and memorial parks can be used to explore many of the most cherished cultural and historical sites in the United States—from the Lincoln Memorial to the White House. The app includes a total of 70 sites. The National Park Service also offers several maps to help you navigate your way around the monuments and memorials in Washington D.C.