Teaching: Modernism and Harlem Renaissance Unit (American Literature)

Fitzgerald - Tales of the Jazz AgeIntroduction/Background:

Dr. Paul P. Reuben’s (CSU Stanislaus) Early Twentieth Century – American Modernism Introduction
Valuable introduction to American Modernism, including their common characteristics, attitudes, tensions, literary achievements and themes. Touches modern sense of self and complex relationship between Modernism and “New Negro Renaissance.” Also includes list of study questions.

Visual Art Connection: Virtual Exhibit of the 1913 Armory Show/The International Exhibition of Modern Art with essays.

Some Obvious Authors/Works:

T.S. Eliot
William Faulkner
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby
Ernest Hemingway
Langston Hughes
Zora Neale Hurston
Gertrude Stein
Wallace Stevens

Modernism Units:

This Modernism unit touches on several genres and focuses on Fitzgerald’s Gatsby, Eliot’s “The Hollow Men” or “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” and Hemingway’s “Indian Camp.” Assignments include a short story (style and point of view) rewrite, response journals with prompt ideas, Great Gatsby picture book (image portfolio), illustrating (with brief rationale) an image from “The Hollow Men,” “Who’s Responsible” for Gatsby’s death culminating assessment. All assignments come with rubrics. Before reading activities: chalk talk and anticipation guide. Daily lesson plans for 17 day unit (90 minutes class blocks).

Focuses on Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily,” comparison of Robinson’s “Richard Cory” to Eliot’s “Prufock” (analysis of figures as Hemingway heroes), Sherwood Anderson’s “The Egg,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Langston Hughes, Billie Holiday, and The Great Gatsby. Materials include a Modernism PPT w/guided notes, Great Gatsby worksheets and questions, Of Mice and Men anticipation guide, questions, and essay topics, and Harlem Renaissance Ressearch Project.

Using Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God as central text, the unit examines this text alongside jazz musicians and songs of the time: Bessie Smith, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, Louis Armstrong, etc. Activities include a jazz web quest, reading logs, and multimedia/performance culminating assessments (i.e. creating a CD compilation, rewriting and performing a scene from TEWWG). Assessments include rubrics. The unit also includes activities for making more modern connections by examining ’80s hip hop and musicians like Tupac and Outkast.

Lesson Plans:

3 Part EDSitement Introduction to Modernist Poetry Lesson:

Lesson 1: Introducing students to the historical and cultural context of Modernism. Using high quality websites explore inventions/technological breakthroughs, rise of urban life, transportation, factory life, and World War I.

Lesson 2: Begins by comparing Romantic poems (Wordsworth’s “Daffodils” and Barrett Brownings “Sonnet from the Portuguese 43: How Do I Love Thee?” with Wallace Steven’s “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” to get at characteristics of Modernist poetry. Includes graphic organizer.

Lesson 3: Opens with students examining Duchamp’s “Nude Descending a Staircase” and relating analysis to Steven’s poem in order to add to graphic organizer of characteristics of pre-Modern v. Modernist Worlds. Next students read through Eliot’s “Love song of J. Alfred Prufrock” using detailed graphic organizer broken up by stanza with guiding questions.

ReadWriteThink Harlem Renaissance Retrospective 5 Day Project

Students explore multimedia landscape of Harlem Renaissance artists by creating a museum exhibit focused on one musical, literary, or visual artist of the time period.

ReadWriteThink Connotation, Character, and Color Imagery in The Great Gatsby

Opens with consideration of Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay” and connects color symbolism to Great Gatsby characters. Color log to track colors and characters, culminating assessment is an argumentative paper analyzing character/color. Includes rubric.

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