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Help Me Build a High School Class!

Discussion in 'Music Forum' started by OhTheWater, Jun 5, 2018.

  1. OhTheWater

    Let it run Supporter

    So I've just been approved the chance to build my own class next year centered around "Modern Literature: Film and Music" (general description, basically whatever I want to do), and I'd like to brainstorm some ideas as to how I can go about building the curriculum for the class.

    It's going to be a semester long course that I teach twice, in the Fall and Spring and will probably contain mainly Juniors and Seniors in high school. I have relative free reign in terms of the content that I teach, so long as I can back it up as being educationally relevant, which I am pretty good at doing.

    My initial idea for the course was the focus on the 60s-present, mainly discussing trends in popular culture coupled with literature that can go with the art. I enjoy the idea of focusing the class on "Protest Art" or rebellion, the push back against the sociopolitical norms of the different eras (Hip Hop, Punk, French New Wave, Horror etc.).

    I'm open to any and all suggestions in terms of texts, artists, albums, films etc. that may be relevant to the course. In addition, I'm open to suggestions on how to shape the course. In my mind, chronological makes the most sense as many of the genres/styles of art are direct reactions to what came before/what was happening in the moment.

    As the year gets closer, I might delete this thread or ask to move it to the Supporters Forum in the slight chance that a student could stumble upon it. Any help you give is greatly appreciated!
    Dog with a Blog likes this.
  2. iCarly Rae Jepsen

    run away with me Platinum

    definitely protest music and its connection to the anti-war movement from Ohio to When The President Talks To God

    also I guess something about gender and sexuality in music, I'm thinking maybe with the androgyny of people like David Bowie and Prince
  3. incognitojones

    Some Freak Supporter

    I like the idea of using themes to connect different art forms and movements. Instead of just going chronologically you could cut it into themes, breaking the theme in one form, then for different forms and how they relate to each other. I'm not sure how many themes you'd be able to come up with, but its an interesting way to look at culture, considering how everything pretty much repeats.
    OhTheWater likes this.
  4. OhTheWater

    Let it run Supporter

    I just have such a long leash that I'm getting lost in my own head in terms of ideas. I'd love to do a horror unit in the month of October and get into Scream and Behind the Mask as deconstructions of the genre.

    I'd like to focus a lot on coming of age texts. I found a free PDF of Perks of Being a Wallflower and am hoping I can get a class set of Buck
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  5. incognitojones

    Some Freak Supporter

    There's so much on how different periods like different monster archetypes, you could easily do a whole class on horror. Or on the Monster Mash. Or on gothic culture and its influence in music for sad teens. Or art that deals with the nature of death, loss, fear, dread. Or art that analyzes the nature of existence.

    There is so much room to do anything. Maybe do a full course on just the Monster Mash. A real deep dive.
  6. iCarly Rae Jepsen

    run away with me Platinum

  7. Kiana

    Goddamn, man child Prestigious

    I'm not helpful but the kids will love this. I still remember the teachers who had us do music-based projects that I connected with - a teacher who would let a different kid pick an album to listen to in class and we'd write about it, the teacher who had us do a project on any pre-80s artists, the one who had us pick songs we loved that had Shakespeare references and do a project on it (I felt so enthusiastic about getting to use my chemical romance in a school project lmao) ... I'm sure whatever you do they'll love it.
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  8. As far as "protest art" that kids might recognize, The 1975 is a great choice musically.

    Also, for a coming of age film, Boyhood is a great watch. A little long, so you could always download it and cut it down (my history teacher did this with Forrest Gump).
    OhTheWater likes this.
  9. OhTheWater

    Let it run Supporter

    If anyone has any seminal literary works by people of color/LGBTQ authors from like the 60s onward, please help me out. Preferably short stories or poetry or long form articles that I can spend a few days with. I'm relatively well versed in Film/Music, but ironically have a ton missing from literature.
  10. Kiana

    Goddamn, man child Prestigious

    These are kinda obv ones so may be unhelpful lol, but This Bridge Called My Back and Colonize This! are both good starting points
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  11. Joel

    Trusted Prestigious

    I doubt this would resonate much with the kids, but I'm sure there's some interesting stuff to be contextualized re: dance music as protest for POC/LGBTQ communities in the late 80s/early 90s
  12. username

    hey you lil piss baby

    I’ve only read The Devil Finds Work, so I cant directly recommend much, but James Baldwin seems like an essential choice here.
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  13. fyebes

    Regular Prestigious

    "I Want a Dyke for President" Zoe Leonard (1992)

    Radical poem - might not be okay in a high school classroom, but I love it.

    "Just Walk on By: Black Men and Public Space" Brent Staples

    I do this article in my Race in America unit - the kids really like it. Shorter than a long form article though.

    Dutchman - Amiri Baraka (1964)

    This play mostly only has two characters - Clay (a black young man) and Lula (an older and seductive white woman). Baraka has an anti-semetic, sexist, and homophobic background (not uncommon among black nationalists during the Civil Rights Movement) so obviously tie context into this.

    "Speech Sounds" Octavia Butler (1984)

    Fantastic science fiction short story by a fantastic author. Dystopian future where humans have lost the ability to speak and only communicate with gestures and grunts. Feminist themes.

    "Bloodchild" Octavia Butler (1995)

    Another sci-fi by the same author. This one is about aliens and relations between different species. Subtle feminist themes that students might need help getting to.

    Toni Morrison discussing Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

    I would recommend this if your students read Huck Finn. I really enjoy this article and gives new perspectives to a book they've already read. Wouldn't be worth it if they don't do Huck though.

    "How to Date a Brown Girl (Black Girl, White Girl, or Halfie)" Junot Diaz (1995)

    I do not like this short story, but it is a seminal work. Diaz has recently been accused of assault and harassment, so I would teach this with context like I would with Dutchman. This short story is raw, as you can expect from the title.

    "Dig Deep: Beyond Lean In" bell hooks (2013)

    bell hooks responds to the corporate feminism of Sheryl Sandburg's Lean In.


    if you want any more suggestions, let me know. this is a lot. hahah.
  14. Matthewconte

    Trusted Supporter

    My two cents:

    "West of the Known" by Chanelle Benz plus this interview she gave with Electric Lit. (short fiction)

    "A Poem For Black Hearts" and "Jitterbugs" by Amiri Baraka (poetry)

    "Black jam for dr. negro" by Mari Evans (poetry)

    anything by Nikki Giovanni

    "Motherfuckers" and "Not Here To Make Friends" by Roxanne Gay (short fiction + essay)

    "Joy" by Zadie Smith (essay)

    anything by David Sedaris, but if you're looking for something that is specifically about LGBTQ, "Parade" and "Glen's Homophobia Newsletter" from Barrel Fever or "A Modest Proposal"
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  15. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    I've been thinking a lot about ways PoC have had to subvert norms from within seemingly innocuous pop modes. Ellington reinventing American music while making big band swing that people could dance to. Mayfield, Gaye, Hayes, Womack, etc. making great art out of soundtracks to blaxploitation films. The Cosby Show advocating for feminism and inclusion of people with disabilities in the middle of a prime-time sitcom. '90s rappers changing the narrative of the "War on Drugs" in hip-hop, which wasn't considered high art yet necessarily. Etc.

    I'm trying to think of a way to work it into curriculum myself, so maybe applicable as a mini-unit?
  16. fyebes

    Regular Prestigious

    13th does an excellent job exploring the "War on Drugs" for students who likely don't know much about it.
  17. EmmanuelSCastle


    in terms of literature and protest art, the Beat Generation stuff and Allen Ginsberg specifically come to mind, though I know something like Howl gets pretty explicit at times. his stuff dealing with mental illness and sexuality is p important -- dealing with LGBTQ+/ themes of marginalization in a way that is complex but ultimately positive is an important thing to be exposed to in a way that feels like it legitimizes yr feelings (speaking as someone who didn't trust adults in high school but trusted a lot of art instead lol). but like also the value of it educationally can't really be denied.

    Beloved by Toni Morrison is a cool one that I just read recently and wish I read a lot sooner

    Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, though that's slightly earlier in time period than you wanted if I'm remembering right.
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  18. OhTheWater

    Let it run Supporter

    Digging through a ton of these now, thanks everybody!

    After the initial icebreaking/getting to know you bullshit that takes up the first week or so of class, I want to delve into a "Horror" unit that focuses on outsider art and marginalized people. Probably will show Night of the Living Dead, Get Out along with some short stories. Still bone dry in terms of actual planning, but I really like the idea of this unit leading into Halloween. I like the idea of possibly teaching "Just Walk on By" and "Speech Sounds" with this unit.

    I'd also like to tackle "Coming of Age" although not as cliche. The kids really seem to like Perks of Being a Wallflower, so I'm hoping to teach that and couple it with Buck by M.K. Asante, a local Philly author. As shitty as he has become, I think it'd be interesting to incorporate a bit of Bret Easton Ellis in with this unit in terms of Nihilism and the death of the American Dream amid Reagan-era America. Ton of hip hop to go along with that as well.

    In terms of music, I'd really love to teach Transgender Dysphoria Blues as a text and couple it with a lot of LQBTQ writing.

    Again, super thin in terms of how I'm actually going to do this/me gathering the resources, but I appreciate everyone's suggestions! Keep them coming
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  19. EmmanuelSCastle


    fwiw I was in high school just four years ago and all the texts you listed were v influential to me (minus get out which didn't exist at the time)

    night of the living dead in particular was wild to me bc, ending aside, never seen a poc have an active role in a horror movie like that. you're definitely on the right track imo
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  20. nohandstoholdonto

    problem addict Prestigious

    This is a really cool idea for a class, something I’d have killed for in school haha.

    This makes me happy. The songs on that album that deal most explicitly with dysphoria are still unparalleled to me in how they tackle the subject.
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  21. OhTheWater

    Let it run Supporter