Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Artifacts and Fiction - Workshop in American Literature
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These Tutorials use images, sound files and narrative to deepen understanding of the featured disciplines through close readings of artifacts.

Tutorial 1: Visual Arts
Item #1159 Paintings, sculpture, and other works of visual art express ideals in their own language.


Tutorial 2: Political History
Item #6906 Speeches, protest posters, and cartoons capture the political views of various groups.

Tutorial 3: Social History
Item #7338 The discipline of social history focuses on the lives of ordinary people. Diaries, photos, music, and clothing are all clues to social history and the lives of ordinary people.

Tutorial 4: Oral History
Item #8010 Folk songs, interviews, and other oral histories can provide alternative views of a text's cultural setting or be studied as artifacts that help explain other literary works.

Tutorial 5: Domestic Architecture
Item #8080 Furniture placement and interior design are two of many aspects of domestic architecture which can relay information about social attitudes and norms of behavior.

Tutorial 6: Cultural Geography
Item #3994 The study of cultural geography focuses on how we shape our surrounding space, and how natural and man-made landscapes affect our perspectives.

Tutorial 7: Ritual Artifacts
Item #7842 From Victorian calling cards to Puritan gravestones, ritual artifacts reveal how humans create and define order in their lives through both sacred and secular ritual objects.

Tutorial 8: Ceremonial Artifacts
Item #2742 Native American sand paintings, priestly vestments and wedding huppahs are all objects used in religious ceremonies embodying the spiritual beliefs of the cultures they represent.

When approaching an artifact, it is useful to think of the process for teaching close reading of literature—developing not only an understanding of what a text says (the literal plot of "what happened") but also appreciating the importance of how a text depicts what happened (the use of rhyme scheme, diction, character development, etc.).

The analysis of artifacts involves a similar process of close reading, with attention to the details of how things are represented. The way a figure is posed in a portrait (wearing a particular style of clothing, pictured with specific household objects, etc.) may reveal cultural values shared by the painter and the subject. For example, the use of rhythm and repetition in a song may indicate what information or beliefs are being emphasized, particularly if the original singers and audience for the song came from a culture that privileged the oral transmission of information.

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