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Comparing Portrayals of Slavery in Nineteenth-Century Photography and Literature
|Grades||6 – 12|
|Lesson Plan Type||Standard Lesson|
|Estimated Time||Five 50-minute sessions|
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.
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.
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.
Lesesne, Teri. "Finding the Thread: Character, Setting, and Theme." Voices from the Middle 8.1 (September 2000):78-84.