For this project I am going to do a lesson on satire. Satire is a powerful genre in both film and literature. Satire uses critical thinking to lay bare the array of hypocritical behavior we find in our social, political and economic leaders. Satire also has a rich history in film and literature. The project will start with an overview of the genre beginning with readings from works of satire and moving to examples of satire in film and television.
Here is a video on what satire is and how it works
Excerpts of satire in literature could include:
The Satires of Juvenal; Jonathan Swift’s A Modern Proposal and Anthony Trollope’s The Way We Live Now among others.
Examples of satire in film and television could include excerpts from:
The Simpsons; the Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert; This is Spinal Tap; any Christopher Guest movie among others.
Once the students understand fully the concept of satire, we will move to the major activity of this lesson. The students in this lesson will read a work of literature (Red Alert) and then watch a film (Dr. Strangelove) that was adapted from the novel. Red Alert was a novel by Peter George about the possibility of nuclear war started by a lone madman. The novel is short and reads quickly. The students will then watch the movie Dr Strangelove and apply their understanding of satire to the film.
The Objective: The first objective is for the students to understand what satire is and how it is used by authors and filmmakers. The students will also learn how a piece of literature that is not satirical in design can be turned into satire. The essential question would look something like this: Compare the novel Red Alert with the film Dr. Strangelove; how did the director Stanley Kubrick create a satire out of the non-ironic novel? Identify ways that satire is used visually as opposed to the satire that in narrative form.
Technology Needed: Students will need computer and internet access to watch the 5 minute video explaining satire and the related concepts of irony and sarcasm are. They will see video clips and the film Dr. Strangelove using classroom technology.
Content: The content relevant to language arts will include the literary concepts of satire, irony and sarcasm. The students will read some short works such as A Modest Proposal and a couple of the Roman poet Juvenal’s satires. When viewing the film Dr. Strangelove, the students will compare similarities between the novel and film such as the characters, the plot, and most importantly the themes looked at in both works. Another question to look at: how are specific non-satirical plot and thematic elements in the novel treated satirically in the film?
Pedagogy: The project will begin by defining satire and related terms. This could be done with a teacher-directed lecture that explained satire. I have also included a video that does a good job of explaining satire. Once the definitions of satire and related concepts are clear, the students will have assigned reading. Class discussions of the reading on satire will center around how satire, as we have defined and discussed, it is used by the authors of the assigned satirical literature (example: A Modest Proposal). Following the readings and class discussions on the literature, the film Dr. Strangelove will be watched by the class together. Following the film, the students will write an essay comparing the similarities between the novel and the film; specifically, they will discuss what elements in the novel were transformed into satire by Kubrick. In their writing they will also discuss different ways that satire is used visually.
To end the lesson I will play the song by Alanis Morissette called “Ironic”
I will ask the students if what Morissette sings about are actually examples of irony or just some bad things that happened. (hint: the examples in the song are not really irony)
Wiki page on Irony
A great PBS page on satire
A Wiki page on the novel Red Alert
The first article I read consists of 12 units that integrate technology into standards-based lessons. Examples of these units include fan-fiction, creative writing, online peer editing, teaching Shakespeare with film and images,using blogs to facilitate independent reading projects, and how technology can enhance (or hinder) effective public speaking. I liked it because it was specific to the language arts classroom.
The second journal article on the ISTE site I read is about how the use of technology has changed over the years. The author points out that language arts classrooms were some of the first to incorporate computers into the classroom, but now often lag behind other subject areas with respect to teaching with technology.