An option you have as you complete your Six Pack Sheets is to use sketchnotes, or visual notes, instead of the written details requested for pages 3 (important scenes) and 4 (character information) of each Six Pack Sheet. Your sketchnotes must include the same details outlined on the instructions for each page, but you may opt to present this information in visual instead of written form. Sketchnotes will be graded for content and presentation, but remember—their purpose is to help you recall important details about the text, not to fulfill requirements for an art class. “Stick dude”-level art skills are perfectly acceptable. If you’re an artist, feel free to knock yourself out.
Below are some introductory videos that explain how sketchnotes are created. I encourage you to search for sketchnote examples (both video and images) to decide if they will be a more helpful way for you to process the characters, themes, and ideas of the major works we will be studying this year.
The Basics of Visual Notetaking
The Power of Sketchnotes
Basic Sketchnote Tips
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Katherine O’Flaherty Chopin was born on February 8, 1851, in St. Louis, Missouri. The O’Flahertys were a wealthy, Catholic family. Her father founded the Pacific Railroad, but he died when Kate was four. Kate and her siblings were raised by their mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. These women proved to be strong role models. They encouraged Kate’s love of reading and storytelling. Kate was an average student at the convent school she attended. After her graduation, she became one of the belles of fashionable St. Louis society. She met Oscar Chopin, a wealthy cotton factor, married him after knowing him a year, and moved to New Orleans.
Oscar Chopin’s circle was the tight-knit French Creole community. Kate led a demanding social and domestic life because of her status. Unusually for the time, her husband was supportive of her independence and intelligence, and her storytelling gifts and her knowledge of French, English, and Creole made her a keen observer of the local culture. She had much to draw from. Her husband’s business gave him prominence in the Creole community, and New Orleans was a city full of diversions, including horse racing, theater, music (Kate was an accomplished pianist herself), and, of course, Mardi Gras. The Chopins lived in three different houses in New Orleans; this one on Louisiana Avenue was the last. Like many wealthy families, they traveled by boat out of the city to one of the many small Gulf islands to vacation during the summer months. All of these experiences feature in Chopin’s stories and novels.
Oscar’s business failed in 1879. The family moved to their plantation in Natchitoches Parish near the small town of Cloutierville, which strengthened Kate’s connection to the Creole community and gave her more material to draw from. Malaria claimed Oscar’s life in 1880 at the age of 31. Kate moved back to St. Louis with their six children to draw support from her family and place the children in better schools than Cloutierville could provide. The loss of her mother a short time later added to her grief. A family physician suggested writing as an outlet, and Chopin’s literary career was born.
Chopin published her first story in the St. Louis Dispatch. Soon after, her first novel, At Fault, was published privately. Her prolific output over the next fifteen years includes nearly a hundred short stories for adults and children alike. The most famous of these, like “A No-Account Creole,” “Desirée’s Baby,” “The Story of an Hour,” and “A Pair of Silk Stockings” are set in the Creole community and explore its traditions and expectations, especially of the women concerned. Her story collections Bayou Folk and A Night in Acadie were nearly universally praised.
The publication of The Awakening in 1899, however, was a different story. Through its heroine, Edna Pontellier, The Awakening gave Chopin’s themes of independence, art, and possibility free rein. Edna’s decisions go against the expectations for women of the time. A few critics praised the novel’s artistry, but most were very negative, calling the book “morbid,” “unpleasant,” “unhealthy,” “sordid,” “poison.” Novelist Willa Cather labeled it trite and sordid. The overall view was that Edna’s decisions, which modern audiences view quite differently, as scandalous and unfeminine. Chopin was ostracized as a result. Her third story collection was refused by its publisher. The Awakening was removed from libraries for its scandalous content. Chopin herself never got over it; her writing output slowed to the point of cessation. Chopin bought a season ticket to the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis and visited on August 20, an unusually hot day. She took to her bed complaining of a severe headache that evening and lapsed into unconsciousness. Two days later, Chopin died, probably from a brain hemorrhage.
In 1969 Norwegian critic Per Seyersted wrote that Kate Chopin “broke new ground in American literature. She was the first woman writer in her country to accept passion as a legitimate subject for serious, outspoken fiction. Revolting against tradition and authority; with a daring which we can hardy fathom today; with an uncompromising honesty and no trace of sensationalism, she undertook to give the unsparing truth about woman’s submerged life. She was something of a pioneer in the amoral treatment of sexuality, of divorce, and of woman’s urge for an existential authenticity. She is in many respects a modern writer, particularly in her awareness of the complexities of truth and the complications of freedom.”
Chopin did not consider herself a feminist, but her themes of independence and women’s self-realization are stirrings of a movement that would resound throughout the twentieth century. She is now considered one of the essential authors of American literature.
Although we’re often warned not to judge books by their covers, that’s exactly what we do. The cover art for a book is the first signal to the reader about the contents within, and a good cover can have a huge influence on whether a prospective reader will not only pick it up, but delve inside. Many readers will judge whether they might like a book solely on how the book appears. Hence, publishers pay close attention to how a book is presented.
Christopher King, the art director for the American publishing house Melville House, explored some of the design choices for Lord of the Flies in this post. One of the featured covers is for the 1980 Perigee edition found on the book you’re using, featuring artwork by California artist Barron Storey. Consider the differences between that cover and the current cover of the 2006 update by artist Ben Gibson.
In late 2011, the British publisher Faber and Faber, in association with the national newspaper Guardian, launched a cover competition for the centenary edition of Lord of the Flies. Since this edition was intended for the education market, only young artists aged 13-16 were invited to compete.
The official site for the competition included a gallery of past covers of Lord of the Flies in addition to the finalist entries from the contest. Review some of the historical covers in the Melville House post and compare them to one of the galleries from the competition below to see how cover design has changed since 1953. How does each cover reveal a different aspect or perception of the novel?
In the end, the judges unanimously selected the mixed media work of 15-year-old Sarah Baxter as the contest winner. An interview with Sarah was published in The Guardian. Her artwork was published in September, 2012 when Faber and Faber released the UK education edition of Lord of the Flies.
Explore the artwork further. What has Ms. Baxter included in her artwork that speaks to the plot, characters, and themes of the novel? Do you find this to be a successful cover? Is it intriguing? Would you have selected a different work as the winner? Which cover works better for the novel, the new US cover above, or the British cover? Considering these details can lead you to greater insight into the novel within.
Are we actually reading all these books? Do we read the whole book of each selection? How many books do we read this year? Do you do in class group readings? You should complete an “elite eight” of titles by the end of the course. Some we’ll read in class together, and the others you’ll read on your own. I’ll assign the bulk of the works, but you’ll have a few opportunities for input into what we’ll be reading. If you’re talking about reading aloud for the class, no.
Will we be reading more modern or older books? The works I’ve selected are a blend of both. We’ll be spanning the gamut from ancient Greek drama to 20th-century masterpieces. And no, they won’t all be Shakespeare.
Are there other readings other than listed? We will read a few short works at the very beginning of the course to warm up your literary engines. We will also study poetry throughout the course alongside the major plays and novels.
Is the reading going to be very hard to understand? Some works will be more challenging than others. If you work diligently and ask questions, you should be fine. Students who complain that books are impossible are usually the ones who either 1) Haven’t read them at all and are trying to justify using the SparkNotes instead (not recommended) or 2) Procrastinated until they couldn’t complete the assigned reading, even if they intended to, and are therefore lost because they have no idea what everyone else is talking about. But if you ever do hit a snag, ask me. Helping you is my job!
What is the workload like? Will we have a lot of homework? Plan to do some reading nearly every night when you have an assigned novel in hand. Other assignments, like out of class essays, will have due dates for both the initial draft and the final copy to be submitted for grading posted well in advance so you can plan for them. Class will be a mixture of individual and group work, while homework is usually reading, completing tasks associated with the reading, poetry journals, and occasional out of class writing assignments or projects. Socratic seminars will be conducted at the end of each major work; you will be expected to prepare for these by completing a Six Pack Sheet as you read. More details later.
Will I be expected to read at my own pace, or are we given a schedule for when certain books should be read? I don’t usually specify a certain number of pages per night, since all of you differ in the kind and amount of homework you have. I will post on the class calendar how far you need to progress at certain points, like everyone being at the end of Chapter 10 on a particular date. Those days are usually posted on the whiteboard in the front of the class as well.
How often will we write? How many essay types will we work on? Writing practice happens frequently. Expect either an in-class timed writing or an out-of-class prepared essay for each major work. Out-of-class essays and the occasional revision of an in-class writing will be submitted electronically. You’ll also be practicing the prose and poetry questions of the AP exam. AP Lit essays, since they explore themes within works, are nearly always a kind of analysis. There is no synthesis-style question on the AP Lit exam. Figure on about an essay a week, on average. Alas, there’s very little time available for creative writing (short stories/poetry), but if you’re inclined to write that, I’d love to hear about it!
Is this class harder than AP Lang? That’s tough to answer. Both Lang and Lit are asking you to analyze writing at some of the highest levels. They’re designed to stretch you. They look at two different things, though. Lang focuses on claim and support for argumentation and primarily focuses on nonfiction works (essays, letters, speeches, etc.), while Lit asks you to provide textual evidence for interpretation of meaning. The claim and evidence structure is the same, but the type of claim and the evidence differ. If you tend to love novels and plays more than nonfiction, you might find Lit “easier,” although that’s really not the best word for it.
How many tests but we have per month? Is there a curve on tests? You’ll be writing far more often than you’ll be taking a test. An occasional reading quiz (quote and short answer format, primarily) might pop up, but old-school, end-of-chapter tests with a bajillion multiple choice questions? Not in here. Most of the multiple choice questions you’ll see will be AP practice items, and they aren’t graded like regular tests. I rarely curve because I rarely need to.
What materials do we need? Didn’t you read the syllabus? Notebook paper, a writing utensil (preferably pen), and a composition book. NO SPIRALS. Why? Because spiral notebook paper likes to have inappropriate relations with other spiral notebook paper, littering my desk with wee spiral shrapnel and generally making a nuisance of itself. Spiral paper is no bueno. If you can tear pages out of a spiral neatly and without that evil shredded wheat on the side, okay—but you’re pushing it!
What is life like when you take AP Lit? Pretty much like life without it, but with more books. Seriously, though, that depends on what kind of reader you are. If you enjoy reading and writing or are really good at planning your study time, you should be able to fit things in just fine. If you put it off or take shortcuts, it will start to dog your life and make you say naughty things. If your procrastination level equals the completion date of the Majesty Building, then ask me for tips on how to become a ninja in completion rather than avoidance.
How is the exam going to be set up? The AP Literature exam has two parts. Part I, the Multiple Choice section, comprises 45% of the overall score. The section has 55 questions which will test your close reading of both prose and poetry. Selections will be drawn from pre-20th century and post-20th century works. This section takes one hour. Part II, the Free Response, comprises 55% of the overall score. You will write three essays. One asks you to respond to a poem, one asks you to respond to a prose passage, and the third asks you to select a work of literature to illustrate/explore a given theme. This section takes two hours. There is no reading period on the AP Literature exam.
Will I be surprised by the AP exam? The only thing that will be a surprise on this exam will be the content of the questions themselves. You will practice every type of question several times so that you can be relaxed and ready to rock on test day.
What happens if I don’t pass the AP exam? Technically, there is no “passing” an AP exam, since the 1-5 composite score expresses the College Board’s recommendation for conferring college credit for the coursework. Typically, most colleges award credit for a score of 3 or higher, which means less money coming out of your pocket for tuition. The course is designed to train you to produce college-level work. Regardless of your score on the exam, if you do your work diligently for me and listen to me when I try to help you improve, you should be just fine in college. Your high school credits and graduation status are not affected by your AP score.
COLLEGE AND WHATNOT
Do you write recommendation letters? How about help with college essays? Scholarships? Yes, and yes. For letters, you might want to consider waiting until second semester, when I know you better, and ask me for scholarship recommendations or assistance. I’m happy to review essays as long as you give me some lead time. Last minute requests for either make me cranky; if I’m feeling benevolent, I might help you out—but you’ll have to grovel first. And I’ll put that picture on Instagram (you can bow your head in shame to hide your face, though).
Can you help with finding scholarships? What scholarships are available to seniors? How to obtain as much scholarship money as I can? Attaining scholarships can feel like a real burden, but they don’t have to be. The main thing is to stay organized and apply, apply, apply. The best scholarships, and the ones you’re more likely to earn, usually require effort: a full application, an essay, etc. Make sure you qualify for the scholarship you’re applying for so you make the best use of your time. And keep checking the Dr. Phillips Student Services page—it lists scholarships all the time, usually organized by deadline.
Where did you go to college? I earned my bachelor’s at Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina. I double-majored in English and Fine Arts (drama/speech concentration) and minored in history. I earned a master’s at UCF in secondary English education. College was awesome. I highly recommend it.
What’s the best tip for doing well in senior year? Plan. Schedule your commitments, including homework, community service, jobs, etc., and stick to it. Remember that even though it feels like you’re done with high school, it ain’t over ’til it’s over, and it ain’t over until May. Keep on pushing!
What are some good anti-procrastination techniques? If I knew a great answer to that, I’d be a gazillionaire. Since I’m not, I’ll refer you to some great time management apps you should install on your phone or extensions to add to Chrome. Check out links to some of them in the “Simplify Your Life” menu to the right.
THE OTHER STUFF
Can we eat in class? I’ve had seniors who swore to me that they would be neat but who actually turned out to be Visigoths. Don’t be like them. I’m fine with drinks in containers with caps. Finger snacks like Goldfish crackers or carrots are okay, but save anything you have to eat with utensils for later. And pick up your trash!
Can we listen to 70s/80s music all year? Can we listen to music in class? What’s your favorite band? What’s your favorite rapper/rap group? I actually have pretty wide musical taste, so you’ll hear a little of everything except things I can’t concentrate to (sorry, screamo and hardcore rap). I won’t play music every day, but it makes regular appearances. As far as bands go, I have a bunch of music from R.E.M., Rush, Sting, The Police, U2, Jimmy Buffett, Foo Fighters, big band orchestras, Miles Davis, Liz Phair, and 80s music. I’m always open to new artists as long as they’re melodic, which is how my kids got me into Alt-J and St. Paul and the Broken Bones. And although rap is a genre I don’t listen to often, I like artists who have something intelligent to say in an interesting way, so bring on the Public Enemy, De La Soul, Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar, and Missy Elliott.
How long have you been teaching? What is your favorite thing about teaching? Since last century. It’s never the same day twice, and being around young people keeps me young.
What’s your favorite children’s book/book? Children’s books: Go, Dog. Go!, Charlotte’s Web, the Little House, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and Nicholas Flamel series, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and The Phantom Tollbooth.
Grown people books: Pride and Prejudice, Fahrenheit 451, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Winter’s Tale.
Other favorites (color, animal, country, TV show, movie, thing ever)? • Blue, green, or purple (depends on the day)
• Horses for beauty and dogs for loyalty and companionship
• Scotland, because it’s the home of one of my hidden talents—traditional Scottish Highland dance. My other “hidden” talent is that I’m a published author. • British murder mysteries, especially those with history like Foyle’s War and Grantchester, The Big Bang Theory, classic Star Trek. I also enjoy hate-watching House Hunters. • The Princess Bride, Better Off Dead, Raising Arizona, Young Frankenstein, Galaxy Quest, The Emperor’s New Groove, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. And Star Wars. All of it. Even The Phantom Menace, because you should always be kind to the awkward people.
What was your hair color before it was grey? Medium to dark brown. It’s still in there, but the white is taking over. Look closely and you’ll see.
What’s something you’ve never said aloud? What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done? If I’ve never said it aloud, why would I write it down? And probably agreeing to an AMA with high school seniors, LOL.
What is your favorite subreddit? Do you use Reddit a lot? Actually, I don’t use Reddit at all, but if I did, you’d find me with the writers and geeks and general know-it-alls. I’m all over Twitter, however.
Could Ned Stark have found a way out of that “situation”? Not really. His loyalty was to Robert Baratheon, so it’s not like he could refuse the request to become the Hand of the King. And he was basically too honorable to think that Cersei Lannister was plotting to get him and King Robert out of the way, but he figured it out. Too bad it was too late when he did. I’m sure Arya will set things straight, though. She’s on a roll.
Is this class going to be lit? If you’re being literal, then of course, because it’s already LITerature. If you mean the colloquial phrase closely related to “turnt,” then clearly you haven’t received proper intel, or you’d know the answer to this question already.
How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?
Consider/review these scenes as you complete your Major Works Data Sheet for Othello and prepare for the seminar: Act I, Scene 3 – Othello and Desdemona’s stories of their love; The Duke’s and Brabantio’s warnings to Othello; Iago’s advice to Roderigo; Iago’s final speech Act II, Scene 1 – Iago, Emilia, and Desdemona speaking of men and women; Iago’s speeches regarding his developing plan of revenge Act II, Scene 3 – Cassio’s downfall and Iago’s advice to Cassio Act III, Scene 3 – Iago plants and waters the seed of jealousy Act III, Scene 4 – Othello confronts Desdemona about the handkerchief Act IV, Scene 1 – Iago “proves” Cassio’s betrayal; Othello and Iago make plans Act IV, Scene 3 – Desdemona and Emilia talk of men and women Act V, Scene 1 – Iago puts his final plan into action Act V, Scene 2 – Othello carries through with his part of the bargain; Iago’s plot is revealed and tragedy befalls the cast
Othello’s Lamentation by William Salter, 1857, from the Folger Library Collection
In preparation for Literature Circles, please review the following information about the books. You will select a book of your choice and join in a circle with 3-5 members of your class. During class Friday, we will review lit circle procedures, deadlines, and assignments. You will receive a copy of your book at that time, so have your first and second choices in mind.
1984 by George Orwell
Published in 1949, Nineteen Eighty-Four offers political satirist George Orwell’s nightmare vision of a totalitarian, bureaucratic world and one poor stiff’s attempt to find individuality. The brilliance of the novel is Orwell’s prescience of modern life–the ubiquity of television, the distortion of the language–and his ability to construct such a thorough version of hell. Orwell’s vision of a future in which truth is fluid, privacy is gone, and even your thoughts can be enough to send you to prison ranks among the most terrifying novels ever written.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife. She may go out once a day to markets whose signs are now pictures because women are not allowed to read. She must pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, for in a time of declining birthrates her value lies in her fertility, and failure means exile to the dangerously polluted Colonies. Offred can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…everything has changed.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The 1931 debut of Brave New World reflected the fears European society held after the Great War and how the explosion of technology and industry would impact individual identity. Huxley’s darkly satiric vision of the future envisions a “utopian” world of tomorrow in which capitalist civilization has been reconstituted through the most efficient scientific and psychological engineering, where humans are genetically bred and pharmaceutically anesthetized to passively serve a ruling order–and what happens when a “savage” asking questions about humanity, society, and love shows up.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
Boisterous, ribald, and ultimately shattering, Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest has left an indelible mark on the literature of our time. Turning conventional notions of sanity and insanity on their heads, the novel tells the unforgettable story of a mental ward and its inhabitants, especially tyrannical Big Nurse Ratched and Randle Patrick McMurphy, the brawling, fun-loving new inmate who resolves to oppose her. We see the story through the eyes of Chief Bromden, the seemingly mute half-Indian patient who witnesses and understands McMurphy’s heroic attempt to do battle with the powers that keep them all imprisoned.
Although Emily Brontë helpfully includes a family tree to explain the relationships among her characters, understanding them takes a little work. Here are some helpful ways to discern who she’s talking about:
Wuthering Heights focuses on two Yorkshire families, the Earnshaws, who live at Wuthering Heights, and the Lintons, who live at Thrushcross Grange.
Based on the inscription found over the door, Wuthering Heights was most likely built by a man named Hareton Earnshaw around the year 1500. That makes the Earnshaw family a very old one and probably accounts for their prominence in the society. Mr. and Mrs. Earnshaw have two children, Hindley and Catherine. Mr. Earnshaw adopts an orphan boy and brings him home to raise as a second son. This boy is given the name of a son who died in childbirth that, as Nelly Dean says, “has served him ever since, for both Christian and surname”: Heathcliff.
Hindley does not react well to this new addition to the household, but Catherine becomes very close to him. When old Mr. Earnshaw dies, Hindley inherits Wuthering Heights and becomes the guardian of his sister Catherine. Hindley treats Heathcliff like a servant rather than an adopted brother. He eventually marries a woman named Frances, who gives birth to their son, Hareton.
LINTONS Down in the valley, Mr. and Mrs. Linton live a very comfortable and wealthy lifestyle at Thrushcross Grange. Like the Earnshaws, the Lintons have both a son, Edgar, and a daughter, Isabella. The two families are familiar with each other, but they don’t come into close contact until Catherine Earnshaw is injured during a visit and ends up recuperating for a few weeks at Thrushcross Grange. It is then that she gets to know Edgar and he eventually proposes marriage. Despite her love for Heathcliff, she accepts. Catherine dies giving birth to her daughter with Edgar, who is given her name. Catherine Linton is known in the book as Cathy.
Although raised with the Earnshaws, Heathcliff decides he owes them no allegiance. After Catherine marries Edgar, the penniless Healthcliff leaves the area for several years, returning as a fabulously wealthy man (no one really knows how he got his money). To spite Edgar and Catherine, Heathcliff then elopes with Edgar’s sister Isabella. They have one son together, who is named Linton after his mother’s family.
(Image from the York Notes Wuthering Heights AS&A2, the British SparkNotes)
Now that we have completed the first semester, it is time to reflect on your performance as a student of AP English. For this assignment, you will need to review the items in your portfolio and the scores you received on the semester mock exam.
1) Review your written responses for commonalities. Is there a comment that keeps recurring? Record it. What are the most common problems on your papers?
2) What can you do to address and correct your writing problems? Is there a specific lesson I could give that would help?
3) Compare some earlier papers with papers written more recently. Where do you see that you have grown/improved?
4) Think about your reading habits for the class. Have you read all the works? If you haven’t read all of the assigned works, what is preventing you from finishing them on time?
5) What else do you need to do to be a successful student in the course and on the AP exam? Consider such things as distractions during class (phone/talking/other work you’re doing instead), scheduling, navigating Canvas, etc.
Review your mock exam and respond to the following questions.
1) MULTIPLE CHOICE: Review your score. Did you earn at least half of the points (26+)? If so, how can you continue to score well? If not, what prevented you from scoring at least half?
2) FREE RESPONSE: Skim each of your three essays. Then for each, respond to the following:
—Is your score for the question LOW (0-3), MIDRANGE (4-6), or HIGH (7-9)?
—What would you need to do to move this essay into the next score range?
3) Overall, what would help you feel more confident on the exam? Consider such things as practice items, workshop, tutoring, etc.
When you have finished your reflection, please file your mock exam in your class portfolio. Take the time to weed out your portfolio. Remove any extraneous papers that do not relate directly one of the exam questions, i.e. old homework, classwork, etc. Keep the copies of your Six Pack Sheets and Window Notes from your play’s lit circle for review before the exam.
In preparation for Literature Circles, please review the following information about the plays. You will select a play of your choice and join in a circle with 3-5 members of your class. During class Wednesday, November 30, we will review lit circle procedures, deadlines, and assignments. You will receive a copy of your play at that time, so have your first and second choices in mind.
A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen
Norwegian-born Henrik Ibsen’s classic play about the struggle between independence and security still resonates with readers and audience members today. Often hailed as an early feminist work, the story of Nora and Torvald rises above simple gender issues to ask the bigger question: To what extent have we sacrificed our selves for the sake of social customs and to protect what we think is love? Nora’s struggle and ultimate realizations about her life invite all of us to examine our own lives and find the many ways we have made ourselves dolls and playthings in the hands of forces we believe to be beyond our control.
Equus by Peter Shaffer
An explosive play that took critics and audiences by storm, Equus is Peter Shaffer’s exploration of the way modern society has destroyed our ability to feel passion. Alan Strang is a disturbed youth whose dangerous obsession with horses leads him to commit an unspeakable act of violence. As psychiatrist Martin Dysart struggles to understand the motivation for Alan’s brutality, he is increasingly drawn into Alan’s web and eventually forced to question his own sanity. Equus is a timeless classic and a cornerstone of contemporary drama that delves into the darkest recesses of human existence.
Fences by August Wilson
From August Wilson, author of the ten-part “Pittsburgh Cycle” of plays dramatizing the African-American experience in the twentieth century, comes this powerful, stunning work that won the 1987 Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize. The protagonist of Fences, Troy Maxson, is a strong man, a hard man. He has had to be to survive. Troy has gone through life in an America where to be proud and black is to face pressures that could crush a man, body and soul. But the 1950s are yielding to the new spirit of liberation in the 1960s, a spirit that is changing the world Troy has learned to deal with the only way he can, a spirit that is making him a stranger, angry and afraid, in a world he never knew and to a wife and son he understands less and less.
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
Set on Chicago’s South Side, the plot revolves around the divergent dreams and conflicts within three generations of the Younger family: son Walter Lee, his wife Ruth, his sister Beneatha, his son Travis and matriarch Lena, called Mama. When her deceased husband’s insurance money comes through, Mama dreams of moving to a new home and a better neighborhood in Chicago. Walter Lee, a chauffeur, has other plans, however: buying a liquor store and being his own man. Beneatha dreams of medical school. The tensions and prejudice they face form this seminal American drama. Sacrifice, trust and love among the Younger family and their heroic struggle to retain dignity in a harsh and changing world is a searing and timeless document of hope and inspiration.
Foldables (as anyone who’s ever has Mrs. Parm for a class would know) can prove to be a very helpful study aid. We’ll be using a simple foldable to collect textual support for your seminar on Light in August.
First, consider some of the motifs Faulkner has been tracing throughout the novel. Obviously, race is a primary motif—how the races interact, what the common attitudes were at the time, how different characters react to questions of race, etc. Next, there is isolation. In what ways are the characters isolated from others? From the larger Jefferson community? Is this isolation self-selected or imposed upon them? Identity forms a core idea in the novel. How the characters identify themselves, or push against the identities placed on them by others, reveals much about their choices and actions. Finally, as in much of Faulkner, there is the role of religion. How does religion—the moral expectations of practitioners, the language, and its traditions—impact the morals, choices, and viewpoints of the characters?
The foldable will help you gather evidence about these motifs and help you create strong questions to use in our seminar when we conclude our study of Light in August. Create your foldable this way:
Fold paper in half cross-wise (hamburger style).
Draw a line down the center fold, both the front and the back.
Label each section as follows: 1-5 6-10 11-15 16-21
In each section, you will be recording two kinds of information:
Quotes, examples, and instances illustrating one or more of the major motifs of the novel: race, isolation, identity, and religion.
Connect each quote/example/instance to one or more of the characters.
You will continue to add to your foldable as you read. This foldable will substitute for the character and scene pages of the Six Pack Sheet for Light in August.
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