This unit will allow students to examine the role of past individual and collective experience on the development of the writer's voice, and on their own voices as writers. Students will read works from key American women writers, and will identify similarities and differences in their themes over time, and attempt to draw some conclusions about what these findings might imply about an American women's voice. By reading specific pairings of white and black women writers, students will appreciate not only aesthetic and stylistic differences in texts, but will also be able to identify the differing strands of "the story," where they originated, and where they might be leading. Students will also compose their own writing, in both formal and informal tasks, to parallel our readings, and will have opportunities to engage in cross-disciplinary learning.
This unit is designed primarily for students in an honors American literature class. If the possibility of teaching in an English-history block, or an interdisciplinary humanities class exists, all the better. While the unit (which will take at least 6 - 8 weeks) may be taught at any point during the school year, its focus on close reading, process writing, and reading representative texts from different genres, lends itself to being an earlier, rather than later, unit of study. Students will begin the year by seeing their English classroom as a workshop, a place of inquiry and active learning. It will give students the opportunity to write, read, and discuss prolifically, as an integral part of their work.