Cultural Context in Literature Lesson Plan

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

This lesson plan uses Willa Cather's 'My Antonia' to explain the impact of cultural context on literature. Through discussion and literary analysis activities, students explore other examples of cultural context in classic texts.

Learning Objectives

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Define 'cultural context' and its impact on interpreting literature
  • Analyze passages from classic literature for the influences of cultural context
  • Cite examples from My Antonia to explain the impact of cultural context on literature

Length

45-60 minutes

Curriculum Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.1.c

Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that probe reasoning and evidence; ensure a hearing for a full range of positions on a topic or issue; clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions; and promote divergent and creative perspectives.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.3

Analyze the impact of the author's choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).

Materials Needed

  • Projector or SMART Board
  • Literature passages for activity

Instructions

  • To start the lesson, ask the students what they think of when they hear the word 'culture.' Discuss their ideas.
  • Ask them to think of the oldest person they know. Does that person have the same 'culture' that they have? Does s/he use a cell phone? Listen to music on an mp3 player? Use different words or expressions?
  • Explain that this lesson is going to look at how literature reflects culture and how our current culture can make it hard for us to understand literature that was written in a previous era.
  • Introduce the lesson, Cultural Contexts in Literature: Definition & Examples by displaying it with a projector or SMART Board. Read aloud the first section, 'Literature and Culture,' while the students read along silently.
  • Discuss the section with questions, such as:
    • What is culture?
    • The lesson says that 'objects produced by a given culture express these values in both overt and unconscious ways.' What does this mean?
  • Return to the lesson and ask one of the students to read aloud the next section, 'My Antonia and Early-Twentieth-Century American Culture, while the other students read along silently.
  • Ask the students to think about the section and write down a question about the section that they could ask a classmate.
  • Have the students turn to a partner and ask their question, which the partner should answer. Then switch and the other person should ask a question to be answered.
  • Redirect the students' attention back to the lesson, and ask a student to read aloud 'The Novel,' while the other students read along silently.
  • Have the students each write a question about this section, and pair with a different partner to ask and answer their questions.
  • Repeat this procedure one more time with the final section, 'The Culture.'
  • Read the 'Lesson Summary' aloud to the students.
  • Display the Cultural Contexts in Literature: Definition & Examples Quiz and ask the students to respond individually to each question to check for understanding of the lesson.

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