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Teaching from the Archives

Thanks to the continued support of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas, UT-LA partnered with Dr. Elon Lang to present week-long workshops in June of 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2019 at the Harry Ransom Center (HRC): “Teaching From the Archives.” Below you’ll find the instructional documents created by the UT-LA cooperating teachers and program graduates who attended these workshops. For additional documents available upon email request, please click here.

For materials from our 2019 workshop, please click here.

Archetypes in Drama

Given descriptions of characters from Romeo and Juliet, students will design a costume that uses specific colors to convey particular attributes in order to demonstrate understanding of archetypes of character and color.

Collaborative Writing Assignment

A short unit on collaborative writing processes in which students model their group work on the example of Scorsese, DeNiro, and Schoonmaker’s collaboration in the movie Raging Bull.

Creating and Leaving a Legacy

While studying works by and original research notes and draft work by Julia Alvarez, students will create a final product that utilizes research skills, primary source acquisition, credibility verification, synthesis, outlining, organizing, drafting, editing, and revising of their work.

Director’s Proposal, An Authentic Assessment

This lesson assesses students’ knowledge and skills at the end of a unit on Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. To demonstrate understanding of the work and producing a dramatic performance, student pairs will create a director’s proposal for their own production of a scene from the play. This authentic assessment will require students to consider and apply several drama devices and literary analysis.

Found in Translation: Significance of Variation in The Odyssey

This lesson will introduce students to a study of Homer’s epic, The Odyssey, through primary source materials from the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas, with a focus on purposeful variations in translations. The purpose of maintaining ancient texts and the cultural value attached to them will also be considered. This introduction may not only apply to The Odyssey but to other classical literature that will be studied throughout the year, including works by Shakespeare.

Inquiry Project

A year-long project in which students view collecting as a rhetorical practice, in part by revitalizing the tradition of 19th-century commonplace books to support research, writing, and reflection.

Introduction to Archival Research

These two coordinating lessons introduce students to the concept of an archive and the archival process and require students to analyze several drafts of a single poem from Anne Sexton’s archive in order to illustrate the value of archival research and deepen students’ appreciation of revision and the relationship between style and meaning.

Introduction to Gothic Literature through Poe

In this 1-2 week unit designed for 9th-graders, students are introduced to Edgar Allan Poe’s works and 19th-century Gothic style through images of archival material, modern multimedia adaptations, and exploration of Poe’s biography.

Our Public Selves – Whitman and Sexton

These two advanced lessons ask students who have read Coehlo’s The Alchemist to reflect further on the pattern of human experience by examining the relationship between ‘private self’ and ‘public image' as seen in the archived manuscripts and published works of Walt Whitman and Anne Sexton.

Steinbeck and the Writing Process

This lesson will provide students with an introduction to the writing process through examination of John Steinbeck’s writing process as a guide and backdrop to scaffold their own narrative writing. Steinbeck’s archived journal pages and drafts of East of Eden will serve as a relevant, real-world example of the complexities involved in the process of crafting a text that communicates a specific message, thereby achieving a desired intent.

The Art of Perspective, Brazil

The manifestation of an idea can take many different iterations during its evolution, depending on the interpretation of the text provided. Students will work in groups to develop set design, costume, dialogue, cast and music from Terry Gilliam’s initial concept of the film, Brazil. Students will analyze Gilliam’s letter to his writing companion to determine the film’s original main idea and theme, then spend two days developing their interpretation of an opening scene based on their research.

Tim O'Brien, Writing the Things They Carried

In this mini-unit for 11th graders who have read O’Brien’s novel, students closely read images from O’Brien’s archives and an early annotated chapter draft to consider the parallels between O’Brien’s writing process and the themes of collecting and preserving objects in the book.

Whitman and the War

Through whole-class, small-group, and individual study, students will become acquainted with the poetry of Walt Whitman. Then they will analyze primary and secondary sources to determine how the Civil War altered Whitman’s writing style.