Dickinson College / Gilder Lehrman Institute

Mother of Invention by Drew Gilpin Faust

I will admit to tunnel vision with much of my teaching over the last eight years.  I believe that I am in such a hurry to make up for the lack of information that I was given on Black Studies in high school and with my undergraduate degree and, I am trying to ensure that my students do not share the same fate. So I am definitely a bottom up interpreter of history teacher for my students.

So, I am intrigued that I am so drawn to the book by Faust and she hooked me with the introduction. As she explain that the “history of elites has not been a particularly fashionable topic in recent years,” and why she chose to still pursue the research. What captured me was that through this work, I was also able to learn nuances of the enslaved people as well.

I use the book NightJohn by Gary Pulsen to teach the Antebellum Period and we watch the movie in its entirety. Last year I added the narratives of Thomas Day and Dave the Potter to give students a wider perspective of people of color during this period.  On page 161 of Faust book, where she discusses reading and writing, and how the Civil War and literacy changed the course for many women, I thought that I could add this in another layer to my NightJohn lesson, particularly comparing and contrasting the meaning of reading from an enslaved perspective and that of the elite class. So excited to see where this will lead.



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1 Comment

  1. salbertson

    I like reading teaching ideas like this and finding out what literature people use to help students experience history in some way. It is very hard for students, especially younger ones, to imagine what life was like in the past and try to understand different perspectives. I think we can use literature to motivate kids to want to learn about history. It is a great way to raise questions about what is true and how they can go about researching the real story.

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