Friday, November 06, 2009

American Literature Nonfiction Unit Overview

Essential Questions:
What does the text reveal about what it means to be an American?
How does the author structure the text and support his/her argument/theme?
What themes are particularly American? Which are universal?
*Critically analyze a piece of non-fiction
*Effectively identify many points of view of a situation
*Recognize the author’s bias/purpose in a piece of non-fiction
*Recognize/Argue the relativity of ‘truth’ found in non-fiction
*Develop effective strategies for reading genres of non-fiction
Unit Plan:
One of the goals of this unit is to provide you with some choice in what you would like to read. You will be given 2-3 days in class to read your text, and you will be required to read for 30 minutes at home each night. There will be a group discussion which will occur in “fishbowl” format at the end of the unit. Your classmates will be able to listen in on your group’s discussion.
Text Choices and Discussion Questions:
Lucky- Alice Siebold
What does this novel reveal about violence in American society?
What role does race play in Alice’s story?
Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman- Jon Krakauer
What does the book reveal about American attitudes toward Afghanistan?
What view does the book present about the American military?
The Blindside: Evolution of a Game- Michael Lewis
What does the text reveal about the following topics?
*College Athletics Recruiting
*College Financial Aid
*Inter-racial adoption
*Public School Education Shortfalls
*School Funding
*The Foster Care System
Beautiful Boy- David Sheff
What does this memoir reveal about the meth epidemic in the United States?
How does the integration of pop culture references—quotes from literature, song lyrics, movie dialogue—contribute to the book? Look particularly at what Sheff used as the epilogues to each section of the book: John Lennon, Kurt Cobain for Part I, Shakespeare for Part II, etc. Why might Sheff have chosen these particular passages? How do they help your understanding of events, and of Sheff’s mindset?
In his suicide note, Kurt Cobain quoted Neil Young and wrote “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.” When Sheff interview John Lennon, Lennon said, “I worship the people who survive. I’ll take the living and the healthy” (p. 118). Who do you agree with, Cobain or Lennon? Why does society glamorize those rock stars and other artists who burn out? Nic Sheff’s glamorization of alcoholics and drug-addicted artists ostensibly contributed to his own downfall. How should we counsel children and young adults on the dangers of idolizing such people?
The Devil in the White City- by Erik Larson
In what ways does the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 change America? What lasting inventions and ideas did it introduce into American culture? What important figures were critically influenced by the Fair?

Larson writes, "The juxtaposition of pride and unfathomed evil struck me as offering powerful insights into the nature of men and their ambitions" [p. 393]. What such insights does the book offer? What more recent stories of pride, ambition, and evil parallel those described in The Devil in the White City?

What is the total picture of late nineteenth-century America that emerges from The Devil in the White City? How is that time both like and unlike contemporary America? What are the most significant differences? In what ways does that time mirror the present?

Shooting Stars- LeBron James
"The clock ticks, the suspense tightens, the scrappy kids from hard-luck Akron leave you hanging on every shot. But the wonder of Shooting Stars is that it's hardly about basketball. Instead it is a nuanced coming-of-age drama about American culture and race, about organized sports as redeemer and exploiter, and about the blessing and curse of celebrity. At this book's heart, though, is an uncommon bond forged in youthful innocence and desire, a friendship at least as meaningful as anything LeBron James will ever add to his trophy case." --Steve Lopez, author of The Soloist
What does this memoir reveal about American culture? Race? Organized sports as redeemer and exploiter? The curse of celebrity? Dreams?

No comments:

Post a Comment