Skip to contentContribute to ReadWriteThink / RSS / FAQs / Site Demonstrations / Contact Us / About Us



Contribute to ReadWriteThink

ReadWriteThink couldn't publish all of this great content without literacy experts to write and review for us. If you've got lessons plans, videos, activities, or other ideas you'd like to contribute, we'd love to hear from you.



Professional Development

Find the latest in professional publications, learn new techniques and strategies, and find out how you can connect with other literacy professionals.



Did You Know?

Your students can save their work with Student Interactives.

More more

HomeClassroom ResourcesLesson Plans

Lesson Plan

Comparing Portrayals of Slavery in Nineteenth-Century Photography and Literature

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)


Comparing Portrayals of Slavery in Nineteenth-Century Photography and Literature

Grades 6 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Kathy Kottaras

Pasadena, California


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



Huck Finn's moral journey parallels Mark Twain's questions about slavery.† Like the photographers of the nineteenth-century, Twain, a Realist, struggled with how best to portray fictionalized characters, while still expressing truth and creating social commentary.† In this lesson, students use a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast Mark Twain's novel and excerpts from Frederick Douglass' narrative to original photographs of slaves from the late-nineteenth century.† Then they write an essay to compare the different portrayals, arguing to what extent art can reliably reflect truth.† In addition, they will discuss art as social commentary.

back to top



Venn Diagram, 3 Circles: Students use this interactive tool to compare Jim in Huckleberry Finn, photographs of slaves, and Frederick Douglass.

Compare & Contrast Map: Students use information from their Venn Diagram within this interactive tool to prepare to write their Compare-Contrast Essay.

Essay Assignment and Rubric: These pieces are used to guide students through their writing assignment and the grading process.

back to top



Our students live in a world where information comes to them in visual and auditory form much more frequently than in written form.† Thus it is not surprising to see evidence that they sometimes have difficulty making the connection, via imagination, between written word and the experience that it represents.† Photographs can become subject matter for talking about and writing as well as exemplars for writing.

Further Reading

Lesesne, Teri. "Finding the Thread: Character, Setting, and Theme." Voices from the Middle 8.1 (September 2000):78-84.

Read more about this resource

back to top