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  1. 1. Marxism and its Importance inthe Secondary Classroom A SOCIOCULTURALIST APPROACH TO LITERACY CRITICISM.
  2. 2. What is Marxism? Marxism is a branch of literary criticism that emphasizes differences in social class or material wealth between members of society. Named for Karl Marx, who was the first to notably explore these themes.
  3. 3. Socioculturalist Theory and Marxism Socioculturalism: Students bring their cultural values and traditions to the classroom. Student learning is aided by determining cultural significance of the material. Students can easily apply Marxism in a socioculturalist lesson plan.
  4. 4. How? Teachers can add cultural significance to a text by asking students to relate to the social class of the characters involved. They push students to find examples of socially advantaged and disadvantaged characters in the text, and use Marxism to rationalize the characters’ actions. Students can insert themselves into the text and write about how their actions would differ from the actions taken by the characters. Examples?
  5. 5. …Examples! Marxism in Atlas Shurgged (Ayn Rand)  Socially advantaged characters:  Dagny Taggert was the daughter of a man who built railroads  Francisco D’anconia: Inherited world’s largest copper mines.  Socially disadvantaged characters:  Hank Reardon: Humble upbringings; founded Reardon Metal  Jeff Allen: Homeless “everyman”
  6. 6. Examples!! (Part Two) Marxism in To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)  Socially advantaged characters:  Scout Finch: Daughter of a lawyer  Link Deas: Employs many of the characters, including Tom Robinson.  Socially disadvantaged characters:  Bob Ewell: Alcoholic patriarch of town’s poorest family.  Tom Robinson: Lower-class Black worker accused of rape.
  7. 7. Examples!!! (Part Three) Marxism in The Jungle (Upton Sinclair)  Socially disadvantaged characters:  Jurgis Rudkus: Lithuanian immigrant striving for a better life.  Elzbieta: Matriarch; cares for many disabled children.  Socially advantaged characters:  Phil Connor: Factory Boss; Rapist.  Pat Callahan: Corrupt Judge; Xenophobe.  Mike Scully: Head of Democratic party.  Freddie Jones: Son of a wealthy man.
  8. 8. Marxism & Socioculturalism: A Lesson Plan Readers look at literature through a “social lens.” Students create a ladder that represents the class levels in the literature. They place each character on a rung of the latter. Students place themselves on the ladder. They then write about which characters they identify with the most in a journal entry. What actions to they agree with? What would they do differently? How do social constructs of society influence their actions?
  9. 9. The Downside to teaching Marxism It’s Communist!  No, it is not.  But it is perceived as being anti-American or subversive. Some parents, students, or administrators may be hesitant to teach Marxism.
  10. 10. Recap Marxism can be effectively combined with the socioculturalist learning theory. Students who read literature with a social lens can insert themselves into the text, and more easily write about the literature.  Examples:  Atlas Shrugged  To Kill a Mockingbird  The Jungle
  11. 11. References Appleman, Deborah. (2009) Critical encounters in high school English: Teaching literary theory to adolescents. New York: Teachers College Columbia University. Ormrod, Jeanne. (2011). Educational Psychology: Developing Learners (7th edition). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.