William Duncan, INDENTURE BETWEEN WILLIAM AND HELLEN DUNCAN FOR THE SALE OF A THREE YEAR OLD SLAVE NAMED WILLIAM (1828) Courtesy of Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago, and Library of Congress [icufaw cmc0065].
This workshop session introduces the analysis of social history artifacts as a tool in the literature classroom. Pancho Savery, literature professor at Reed College, uses the example of a bill of sale for a slave to help teachers enhance their reading of American literature texts.
By looking at two intellectual products from the same culture—the bill of sale and an excerpt from Frederick Douglass's autobiography—you will better understand the beliefs and values of mid-nineteenth century slaveholding culture.
During the course of the session, you will learn how to search for social history artifacts to help teach American literature. In the onscreen classroom, Pancho discusses how he uses social history artifacts to illuminate the discipline of literature in his own classroom. He provides high school teachers with ideas about how to read two social history artifacts; he also suggests specific lesson plans.
We then follow the onscreen teachers into the computer lab where they work with Pancho, Laura Arnold Leibman (Reed College English professor), and each other to find artifacts that supplement the themes and context of the literature they are currently teaching.
Next, we follow Virginia King—a teacher at The Catlin Gable School in Portland, Oregon—into her own high school classroom. We watch as she models a similar lesson with her students. Finally we hear Virginia's reflections on her own teaching practices.
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Activities & Tips