By studying Mark Twain's novel, The Adventures of 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.
The following lesson introduces children to folk tales through a literary approach that emphasizes genre categories and definitions. In this unit, students will become familiar with fables and trickster tales from different cultural traditions and will see how stories change when transferred orally between generations and cultures.
The American civil rights movement incorporated a variety of cultural elements in their pursuit of political and legal equality under law. This lesson will highlight the role of music as a major influence through the use of audio recordings, photographs, and primary documents. Students will participate in their own oral history, examine lyrics, and work with case studies such as the Freedom Rides to gain an appreciation of how music influenced the early 1960s.
When you think about diplomacy, you may first imagine ambassadors or even the Secretary of State. But the U.S. has a long history of using the arts and humanities to influence international opinion—a practice known as cultural diplomacy. This lesson plan unpacks the principles of cultural diplomacy through an exploration of the Cold War “Jazz Ambassadors.” Students also investigate differing viewpoints of this program through historic newspapers and other primary source documents. Finally, students are asked to design their own program for cultural diplomacy.
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.
This lesson is designed to apply Common Core State Standards and facilitate a comparison of informational texts and primary source material from the Scottsboro Boys trials of the 1931 and 1933, and the fictional trial in Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill A Mockingbird (1960).