Horror as a genre is reflective of the political climate and, in contemporary literature and media, is used to challenge social and political structures. This first unit will examine the vampire motif in several literary texts using the foundational text Bram Stoker’s Dracula as an anchor text. This examination is important because it encourages the objective analysis of literature as a source for understanding political structures and it frames the author as a voice of protest and/or a mirror of a time period’s values and ideas. The unit will also encourage the examination of the critical connection between fiction and nonfiction.
Opening a Dialogue: Poetry and journalism are guided by distinct styles and structures, but both can be used to examine controversial historical and contemporary issues. Poets, journalists, and audiences alike can examine the array of stories that can be told about a specific person, event, or place. The second unit will focus on the intertextual nature of poetry and journalism, and throughout the unit, we will examine authors like Tagore, Neruda, and Langston Hughes and will develop a conversation between these renowned individuals and the most reputable news sources in society. We will create our own “found” poems that demonstrate our interpretation of the most pressing political issues, and will subsequently open a dialogue with our class community and the outside community of Orange.
The theater has been used since the birth of democracy as a way to open a dialogue about the most tempestuous political issues. Julius Caesar, a historical figurehead and subject of one of Shakespeare’s most reproduced works, will be examined as a politically charged play ripe for adaptation. In this unit, we will focus on the ways playwrights have interpreted William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and have manipulated the characters, plot design, and structure, as well as the setting to make controversial statements related to the political climate of the place and time. We will examine the limits of artistic expression and the gray space between art and propaganda to assess the value of these various adaptations.
Challenging Power and Offering Solutions: Dystopian texts have been used for decades by authors as a subversive genre that closely, critically dissects the political and social structures of their time. By creating a perfect world founded upon devastatingly imperfect morals, values, and beliefs, dystopian texts issue a clear warning to future generations and present a challenge to change. We will examine Fahrenheit 451 and explore the implications of censorship and the power of stories in shaping the fate of human society. Paired with shorts stories by Vonnegut, Ovid, and Le Guinn, as well as nonfiction articles linked to the ethics of control in North Korea, the impact of technology and media on today’s society, and historical trends linked to censorship, this text will open a gateway to a larger research project that will ask us to answer the question: What kind of society would we build if we had to start from scratch?