Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, is one of the most influential pieces of literature in U.S. history. Written in 1960 at the height of the civil rights movement, and set in the Depression-Era South, the novel teaches us much about the history of a nation at a key crossroads in its moral journey. Atticus, Scout and Jem Finch, Calpurnia, Dill, Tom Robinson, and the mysterious, reclusive Boo Radley, are characters forever woven into the tapestry of the American imagination. Author Lee masterfully uses these characters to explore the meaning of justice and what it means to be a citizen in a democracy.
This course not only presents the opportunity for an in-depth analysis of the literary merits of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also examines the history that inform the story. Historical explorations on such topics as Jim Crow laws and the Great Depression will expand students’ understandings of the choices made by the citizens of Maycomb County, Alabama. Students will be in conversation about significant themes and issues raised in the novel, such as membership, justice, mob behavior, parenting, prejudice, and racism and its legacies. And throughout the course, students will have opportunities to connect these important issues to their own lives, today.
Through thoughtful discussions, assignments and activities, students will learn the true value of the wise words Atticus Finch shared with his daughter, Scout:” You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.” (from Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Ch. 3.)
*This course may be appropriate for Gifted and Talented middle school students that meet all course prerequisites.