“The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.” – Muriel Rukeyser
Woolman’s English class, Peace Studies, will examine how we tell stories as a culture and why it matters.
Together we will learn to read and evaluate stories told in popular culture, using children’s books, news stories, viral videos, radio, print and television advertising, to track how these common cultural narratives can contribute to a climate of violence. Students will then write their own children’s books, re-write news articles, and script new forms of advertising. They will begin to experience how they, stepping in to the roles of culture-creators, can tell a new kind of story.
We will also read novels about peace and violence, understanding this longer literary form as another tool for social reflection and change. We will read two masterpieces from recent time: Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” and Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple.” Drawing from these books, we will discuss theories of just war, Quaker pacifism, racism, classism, and other forms of systemic oppression. Students will write both creative and critical essays in response to these books, particularly focusing on the tensions between positive and negative peace and personal and cultural violence. We will also read aloud to each other each week, reveling in the masterful prose and acknowledging the importance of auditory learning.
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