Teaching the two-character short one-hour play, The Dance and the Railroad, by Henry David Hwang is an excellent way to include engaging Asian American literature into an American Literature or History class. Set in 1867, during the building of the Transcontinental Railroad, two Chinese immigrants dance opera steps and philosophize during a Chinese worker strike. The play can be purchased from bookstores and is available in Kindle edition under the collection: Trying to Find Chinatown: The Selected Plays of David Henry Hwang.
There are several links to videos, interviews, and resources for understanding the cultural, geographical, and physical surroundings of David Hwang’s The Dance and the Railroad. Also included in the resource are selections from The American Experience: The Transcontinental railroad. There are an article from The New York Times reviewing the 2013 revival of the play. There is also a link to a WNYC interview with Henry David Hwang on The Dance and the Railroad that will help students find ideas their essay assessment.
The lesson features a link to the 2012 AP English Literature and Composition prompt on the cultural, geographical, and physical surroundings of a selection of literature. Students will craft a persuasive thesis sentence. Instructions and strategies are included on how to teach and hold an inner and outer Socratic Circle.
These lessons fit any Honors Literature class, Pre-AP, American Literature, AP English Language or Literature class to prepare students for AP English Language exams, Common Core extended response assessments, American Literature Course exams, the SAT and ACT essay and critical thinking activities. Now adaptable for ESOL classes.
The packet includes complete lessons, Common Core standards, essential and key questions. I've made the following revisions to this product: I have added an addendum that describes how to adapt the lessons for ELL students.
Tags: Close Reading, writing, Pre-AP, critical thinking, Chinese Opera, immigration, theme, ELL adaptable material