Senior Skills: Using Language for Social Commentary

As we’ve read the Middle English version of The Canterbury Tales this week, we’ve discussed how Chaucer used the tales to critique society. The stories of “The Prioress” and “The Pardoner” served as social commentary on the corruption in the church, while “The Reeve” and “The Miller” tales served as commentary on the lack of morality in society.

We discussed how the delivery method of social commentary is much different today than in Chaucer’s time – while only roughly 100 copies of his book were sold in his lifetime, today we can share critiques about society with thousands of people at once through social media.

In our Socratic Seminar you discussed whether social media was the most effective form to use for social commentary – and you had brilliant conversations about what we value in society today, and how the persona and authority of a speak impacts the reach of their commentary. You also focused on the fact that many people are addicted to attention on social media, whether positive or negative, by citing this Harvard study – and you discussed how this addiction can impact what commentary we decide to share.

I’ve been very impressed with your discussions and analysis the past two weeks – it is important to understand how literature and language are used to praise or critique society and culture, as this is usually the first step towards making changes in a society or culture. You’ve already identified a few examples of social commentary from the 21st century in our class discussion post – now I would like you to create your own piece of social commentary.

Please click here for the full assignment sheet and grading rubric.

Choose a current event that you believe is important or worthy of social commentary.  Using the traits of effective rhetoric, create a piece of commentary about your chosen event or cultural trait. You may type, perform, write or create their social commentary – either physically or digitally.

You will be assessed on whether the rhetoric and language used in their commentary is effective for your stated purpose and audience. See a few examples below if you need ideas.

 

A piece of art – social commentary on how we are addicted to our phone – specially focused on the trend surrounding the ‘Pokemon Go’ game.

A social media campaign – this hashtag movement started the now widespread conversation about sexual harassment in Hollywood.

A poster – this piece of graphic design is commenting on animal testing for beauty products.

Donald Glover’s music video for the song ”This is America” severed as a piece of social commentary on police brutality and racial profiling.

12th Grade Literature Fall 2018

Old English – Beowulf

Last week we dove into Old English literature and analyzed not just the rhythm and structure of Anglo Saxon poetry, but the importance of the comitatius and warrior culture to the Anglo Saxon way of life. “The Wanderer” focused on the experience and loss felt by a warrior – this week we are going to look at another example of Anglo Saxon culture from the perspective of a Lord/King, in a selection from the epic poem “Beowulf”.

We will be focusing on the final speech and death of Beowulf in class, and analyzing the text to understand what was expected of a man as a strong leader during this time period. However, understanding the context of the rest of the epic poem will be valuable to understanding this final excerpt, so please review this background video on the historical context of Beowulf:

Additionally, it will be important for you to understand the earlier actions in the poem so that the importance of Beowulf’s death can be fully analyzed. While I strongly encourage you to read the entirety of this epic poem so that you can expose yourself to even more nuanced uses of language, I am providing a summary of the plot below:

Additionally, click here to access a copy of the readings if you lost your from class.

Please click here for the annotated version of the text from class.

 

Additionally, you will find my ‘messy class notes’ over Beowulf below. Visit the post on “Senior Skills: How To Take Effective Notes”, and use these these in your rewriting to determine which note-taking style works best for you.

Click here for Mrs. Pierce’s class notes over Beowulf.

12th Grade Literature Fall 2018

Overview of Literary Periods and Movements: A Historical Crash Course

Students – watch the video below at your leisure to learn more about the literary periods we will be discussing in class this semester.

You will not be quizzed over this information next week (we’ll have more specific, detailed videos and notes for that) but it will be helpful in your discussion of the periods.

11th Grade American Literature Fall 2016