Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.
Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:
- Define Neoclassicism in terms of literature
- Connect Neoclassical literature to the Enlightenment and other intellectual and social changes of the era
- Analyze a work of Neoclassical literature in terms of content and style
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including words with multiple meanings or language that is particularly fresh, engaging, or beautiful. (Include Shakespeare as well as other authors.)
Analyze a case in which grasping a point of view requires distinguishing what is directly stated in a text from what is really meant (e.g., satire, sarcasm, irony, or understatement).
- Copies of the Lesson Quiz, one for each student
- Copies of Neoclassical short stories, essays, and poems
- Access to research materials
- Begin class with a discussion on life in the 17th and 18th centuries:
- What was happening in the world at this time? What was occurring in Europe? What was occurring in the Americas? How did people communicate and share information?
- What was the role of literature in this society? Do you know anything about how Europeans or American colonists used literature to spread ideas?
- Begin video lesson Neoclassical Literature: Definition, Characteristics & Movement. Pause video at 1:27, and discuss this information as a class:
- How can writing be Neoclassical? What does this mean? What aspects of Greek and Roman society were people of the 17th and 18th centuries trying to capture?
- Who was engaged with Neoclassical literature? Was it only the wealthy? Was it common to have a strong middle class in European history? How would having a literate middle class change the culture of literature? How do you think this population felt about literature, and how did they use it to define their place in society?
- Resume video and pause at 1:59 to discuss this information:
- What are the major characteristics of Neoclassical literature? What is a parody? How is it different from a satire? What is a fable?
- Why do you think these genres became so popular? How do these support the Neoclassical emphasis on reason and logic? Can you think of any famous examples of times when American colonists used these formats? What role did these play in the buildup to the American Revolution?
- Much of Neoclassical literature was relatively short, encompassed in essays and short, satiric stories. How do you think printing technology of the time may have influenced this? How do you think the growing literate middle class influenced this?
- Resume and complete video. Discuss this information as a class:
- What are the stages of Neoclassical literature? How is each one characterized? In what ways are they similar? In what ways are they unique?
- You may test student understanding with Lesson Quiz. Discuss answers as a class.
Neoclassical Literature Exercise
- Divide the class into groups, and assign each one a Neoclassical essay, short story, or poem. In their groups, students will research and analyze this work. They will then prepare a dramatic recitation of it to perform in front of the class, focusing on the mood, themes, and stylistic elements of the piece.
- In addition to their recitation, each group will lead a class discussion on their Neoclassical piece. This should not be a lecture, but instead a discussion where the group poses questions and tries to encourage a response from fellow students. Discussions should focus on the themes, messages, and stylistic elements of each work.
- As an out-of-class extension, ask students to write their own Neoclassical-style essay or short story. While they will seek to emulate the style of the 17th/18th centuries, the subjects should be the modern world and modern events. With that being said, students should still strive to identify a topic that would be appropriate to tackle in the Neoclassical style.
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