Interpreting Literature: Session V To Kill a Mockingbird 2015-04-16

Intro: To Kill a Mockingbird

After a journal/free-write on courage, we learned about our next author, Harper Lee, and how her famous manuscript almost became one with the slush-ridden New York City streets (it’s true!).

As always, we spent time understanding the cultural and historical context of our next novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. We reviewed some basic facts about the Great Depression, viewed an important (read: will be on the final quiz) timeline of events from the 1930’s to the 1960’s, and took a few minutes to understand the Jim Crow laws of the post-Civil War South.

Jazz Crosses Racial Boundaries: Billie Holiday (Strange Fruit)

Our side trip this week was on the topic of American Jazz. Jazz was born in the lower Mississippi Delta and was nourished in New Orleans. In the first decades of the twentieth century its emotional rhythms moved north with the Great Migration, a mass movement of Blacks from the South to urban areas seeking better opportunities and attempting to escape from rigid Jim Crow laws that held them in a state of virtual slavery. This distinctly American music, with an emphasis on improvisation, captured the spirit of the nation. The radio and phonograph had a major impact on Jazz’s popularity as improvisation and the spontaneity that typified the music was better conveyed through sound than sheet music. Although jazz musicians helped to erode racial prejudice, they were sometimes unable to break down long established barriers.

Billie Holiday (born Eleanora Fagan April 7, 1915 – July 17, 1959) was an American jazz singer and songwriter. Her vocal style, strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo. She co-wrote only a few songs, but several of them have become jazz standards, notably “God Bless the Child,” “Don’t Explain,” “Fine and Mellow,” and “Lady Sings the Blues.” She also became famous for singing “Easy Living,” “Good Morning Heartache,” and “Strange Fruit”, a protest song which became one of her standards and made famous with her 1939 recording. “Strange Fruit” was a cry for civil rights—some might even say it was the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement.

MLA Format

This biggest take-away from this week’s class, other than understanding the context of our novel, is implementing Modern Language Association Format with regard to Works Cited (bibliography) at the end of all four of our essays this session.

A handout was given to students (example of a Works Cited page and reminders/bullet points). Everything you need to complete a successful Works Cited is on this handout. Please let me know if there is any confusion; I am always happy to clarify/answer additional questions.

Remember to check the syllabus for all homework (reading, vocab, short answer) and of course, the essay prompt. This week’s prompt should not cause you much trouble. Remember to pick a character you admire. Identify three ethical qualities you admire about that character (we’re still working in threes here to easily construct a five-paragraph essay) and support with quotes from the book. Don’t forget everything you learned last session about citing sources within your essay. Now, you’re going to add a Works Cited at the end. The only works cited for this paper will be quotes from the text; our next and last paper will require outside research, therefore, your first paper will only have one Works Cited entry–easy, right? Yes! 🙂

See you next Thursday!