The St. Louis Upstream Theatre Company put on Sophocles’ "Antigone" just as life in the suburb of Ferguson, Missouri unraveled because of the police shooting of Michael Brown.
The lesson compares the 1961 film Antigone to the current event with a graphic organizer. Students will understand parallels between actions and characters in the play and real-life happenings. Speeches by the Ferguson Chief of Police, the parents of Michael Brown, and the Rev. Al Sharpton speaking at the funeral are studied. Michael Brown’s body was left out in the sun for four hours that mimics the act of desecration that happens in the play.
Students will collect evidence for a persuasive essay, or argument, that focuses on a character in search of justice. This theme was explored in The 2011 College Board AP English Literature and Composition examination prompt. These lessons fit any Honors Literature class, Pre-AP, American Literature, or AP English Language or Literature class.
Students will also close read and annotate an Atlantic Monthly’s short essay, “Reparations for Ferguson,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Students will view supporting video clips, such as a TED Talk on reimagining Antigone for social activism by Jeanette Ol-Suk Yew. Students will also listen to NPR stories on the issues, with images from the St. Louis Upstream Theatre Company performance.
The resource can be used with the flipped classroom. A link to the 1961 film Antigone is included, as well as a monologue performed recently by Juliette Binoche at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
There is also an opportunity to write a rhetorical précis, as well as supporting material for teaching this strategy to your students. These four lessons prepare students for AP English Language and Literature exams, Common Core extended response assessments, American and World Literature Course exams, the SAT and ACT essay and critical thinking activities.
In this resource, there is a unique detailed rubric that can be used to score Socratic Seminars in a way that encourages organic fluid discussions. In the guide, there is a step by step explanation on how to conduct a fishbowl discussion with the rubric. The packet includes complete lessons, Common Core standards, essential and key questions. Included is a lesson on crafting a thesis sentence and three original student essay samples scored by an experienced AP English reader for the College Board.
Tags: Socratic Seminar, writing, argument, Pre-AP, critical thinking, race relations, policing, Greek Tragedy