This curriculum unit aims to solve two problems I have encountered in my linked tenth grade Early American Literature and Early United States History classes this year -- finding texts about American history that interest teenagers, and expanding the course’s curriculum to include more women.
The unit will introduce students to Toni Morrison, a Nobel prize-winning author, through her historical novel of the psychic trauma of slavery on its survivors. The unit approaches Beloved both as historical fiction and as literature. Students will engage with the history woven through the book, as well as looking at the artistic and literary aspects of the text. The unit also devotes a substantial amount of energy to comprehension, as the text is a challenging one for high school students.
is so gripping and phenomenally told that students will be motivated to work through the difficulties of the text. Briefly summarized, it is the story of an escaped slave living on the border between Ohio and Kentucky just at the end of the Civil War. She is haunted by the grown-up ghost of her baby girl, whom she killed in order to save the child from returning to slavery. Activities in the unit will provide support for students so that they will be able to interpret, as well as decode, the novel as it slowly reveals the almost unspeakable suffering of its major characters.