Author:
Melody Casey
Subject:
English Language Arts
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Level:
High School
Grade:
11
Tags:
  • IRPELA
    License:
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
    Language:
    English

    Education Standards

    Critical Perspectives in A Raisin in the Sun (AIG IRP)

    Critical Perspectives in A Raisin in the Sun (AIG IRP)

    Overview

    In an effort to examine literature in a variety of ways, students will examine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun through a variety of critical lenses such as feminist, multicultural, Marxist, archetypal, and reader response. This lesson was developed by NCDPI as part of the Academically and/or Intellectually Gifted Instructional Resources Project. This lesson plan has been vetted at the state level for standards alignment, AIG focus, and content accuracy.

    Lesson Overview

    Brief Description of Lesson/Task/Activity: In an effort to examine literature in a variety of ways, students will examine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun through a variety of critical lenses such as feminist, multicultural, Marxist, archetypal, and reader response.

    Time Frame: 1 class period

    Type of Differentiation for AIGs:

    • Enrichment
    • Extension

    Adaptations for AIGs:

    • Content
    • Process
    • Product

    Explanation of How Resource is Appropriate for AIGs: This lesson moves beyond the plot-centered reading and inquiry to address multiple ways of interpreting a work—in this case, the complexity of five different ways.  Once the students become familiar with the schools of criticism, they’ll need to apply their knowledge of these criticisms through obtaining evidence to support the forms.  Ultimately, the student(s) will need to choose which criticism works best for their evidence. This task requires critical thinking and evaluation. 

    Needed Resources/Materials:

    • Lorraine Hansberry’s play A Raisin in the Sun
    • Langston Hughes’ poem “Harlem”

    Sources: Appleman, Deborah (2000).  Critical Encounters in High School English: Teaching Literary Theory to Adolescents.

    Teacher Notes: The Appleman text isn’t necessary to complete the activity, but the summaries of the schools of criticism found in the Appendix are clearly explained for an advanced high school student. http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/722/01/

    Stage 1: Engage

    Hook: Who is to blame for a “dream deferred?” Read Langston Hughes’s poem “Harlem” that lends the line “Does it dry up/Like a raisin in the sun?”

    Ask students what they think Hughes’s message is in the poem. Afterwards explain that this is a form of literary criticism labeled reader response. Then explain that all works can be read and interpreted in many different ways. Criticisms that easily lend themselves to this text are Marxist, feminist, multicultural, and reader response criticism.

    Then have them reread the poem and consider the following questions:

    • How would a critic explain the poem who reads for social and economic inequality (the Marxist view)?
    • How would a critic explain the poem who reads for the inequalities toward women (the feminist view)?
    • How would a critic explain the poem who reads for the differences in cultures and race (the multicultural view)?

    *Note: These questions are very simplified for the sake of enticing students to move quickly from one stance to the other.  If students are comfortable with difficult ideas or have had prior practice, then the teacher can adjust as needed.

    After these questions have been discussed this would be an opportune time to consider how meaning and interpretation are a divergent exercise and this allows the reader to find a fresh meaning with each exploration of the text. 

    Stage 2: Elaborate

    Read Act I of A Raisin in the Sun individually or as a group.  Check for understanding through discussing the characters presented in the act. 

    Guided reading questions might include:

    • What can we infer from the setting? Consider the details of the apartment, the time period and the section of Chicago.
    • What is Walter’s job?  What would he rather be doing?
    • How do the statements made by the characters reveal aspects of themselves?
    • Do the different generations have different views of society?

    How do these ideas of criticism, which link their ideas to life’s experiences, find connection to this text? Apply each of these critical forms to Act I. Cite line and stage directions to support your application of each of the critical forms.

    Once students have had the opportunity to analyze the text, a discussion of their application would serve as a valid assessment.  For each form, students should share the evidence obtained from the text.

    Stage 3: Evaluate

    Students should respond to:
    Based on your reading of the text, which school of criticism—Marxist, multicultural, feminist or reader response—provides the strongest reading/interpretation? Consider the relative strength of the arguments found and determine which ones present the strongest argument for that particular school.

    Student responses can be evaluated according to the following criteria:

    • Outstanding responses will consider all of the schools objectively but present the school with the strongest evidence.  The response will include textual evidence and may contrast the strength of that reading to a lesser one for support.
    • Satisfactory responses will choose a school of criticism and support it with relative evidence from the text but may not thoroughly explain how one particular reading is stronger than another.
    • Unsatisfactory responses will not support the writer’s beliefs with textual evidence or show a lack of understanding of the prompt or the schools of criticism.

    After writing it seems logical for students to discuss/debate which form of critical reading gives the best interpretation. 

    Teacher Notes: Only a few of the forms of criticism have been chosen for this lesson.  Certainly other forms can be applied as well.