As I began to reflect on my year as Teacher-in-Residence, I found myself thinking about a great number of people who have taught me valuable lessons this year.
In the May 2019 issue of Social Education, the journal of the National Council for the Social Studies, our “Sources and Strategies” article discusses the Federal Theatre Project. The article focuses on one play, One Third of a Nation, a Living Newspaper production. Living Newspaper productions addressed social issues of the day, typically presenting factual information in mostly fictionalized ways to audiences.
Ask students to observe the photograph of Mary Hallock Greenewalt. What will they see? While we can see there is a machine and a woman, it is difficult to determine the components of the machine or what it may have been used for, which generates a lot of questions.
This year, the Library of Congress celebrates the artistry of Emilio and Gloria Estefan, recipients of the 2019 Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. In their honor we explore a Cuban-American recording from the Library of Congress that leads us to an exciting game, a groundbreaking educational institution, and a deeper appreciation for America’s diverse cultural communities.
Cuban-American music has a strong heritage that inspired the Estefans’ work. Exploring Cuban-American music through primary sources at the Library of Congress can lead students to exciting music and thoughtful inquiry about cultural identity.
By understanding a work’s original context, intent, message, and audience, creators can use cultural referents to frame new ideas. Public-domain classics achieve a continually evolving immortality as they are re-imagined by new generations of creative minds. Public domain works, through creative adaptation, can be used to create a commentary on the original work, engage contemporary issues, create opportunities for cross-cultural dialogue, and promote cultural change.
The multidimensional nature of music allows artists to explore and communicate complex perspectives. Through exploring the Fort Valley recordings, students can discern how performers connect musical elements and cultural referents to create strong, nuanced messages.
The Library of Congress’s An American Ballroom Companion, an extensive online collection of over 200 dance manuals, is augmented with a video directory of 75 steps and dances. These historic movement patterns invite students to analyze elements of form through physical, as well as verbal, expression.
On Easter Sunday 1939, one of America’s greatest voices sang on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. She donned a fur coat against the fifty-degree bluster to perform outdoors. Despite the direct intervention of the First Lady, performance venues across Washington, D.C., had refused to open their stage doors to the world renowned African American contralto, Marian Anderson.
By observing the musical elements of political songs, students can become more aware of music’s influence in political discourse and more fully equipped to participate in such discourse.