Making Curriculum Pop

Did y'all catch this Steinbeck remix on SNL this fall?

Does anyone else have cool Of Mice and Men allustions or retellings they know about?

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I had forgotten about this! Thanks for reminding me.

While it's not an allusion or retelling, What's Eating Gilbert Grape serves as a good introduction to themes and cultural perspectives. There's mental retardation, poverty, friendship, hurting/broken marriage, etc. (some of them escape me now).

My students reading Of Mice and Men (freshman) are well trained in at least appearing to respect mentally retarded people, but they certainly laugh and mock the mother character (she's severely overweight, is a shut in, and her children hide her existence to the community). We've been able to get into good discussions regarding that.
Okay - a few questions as I am prepping for my OMAM unit.

#1 - I would love to use this SNL clip at the end. How would you use it?

#2 - I wanted to show the Looney Tunes episode where the aboniable snowman finds Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny. Have you seen it?

I want them to think critically about the two. I thought they should both be in class writing responses after viewing, note-taking, and possibly, discussion. I would like them to look at how other artists have used OMAM in their own work. I would like to discuss intertexutality as well.

Any ideas?
Melissa that is a cool allusion - thank you so much for sharing!!

My first question is what exactly do you want them to think critically about?

If you want them to think about what intertextuality does in terms of meanings maybe you start with music samples or art samples. Since I'm a music head, when I do intertextuality first talking about Elvis -

From Wikipedia:
To many white adults, the singer was "the first rock symbol of teenage rebellion. ... they did not like him, and condemned him as depraved. Anti-negro prejudice doubtless figured in adult antagonism. Regardless of whether parents were aware of the Negro sexual origins of the phrase 'rock 'n' roll', Presley impressed them as the visual and aural embodiment of sex."[207] In 1956, a critic for the New York Daily News wrote that popular music "has reached its lowest depths in the 'grunt and groin' antics of one Elvis Presley" and the Jesuits denounced him in their weekly magazine, America.[208] Even Frank Sinatra opined: "His kind of music is deplorable, a rancid smelling aphrodisiac. It fosters almost totally negative and destructive reactions in young people."[209] Presley responded to this (and other derogatory comments Sinatra made) by saying: "I admire the man. He has a right to say what he wants to say. He is a great success and a fine actor, but I think he shouldn't have said it... This ... [rock and roll] ... is a trend, just the same as he faced when he started years ago."[210]

According to the FBI files on the singer, Presley was even seen as a "definite danger to the security of the United States." His actions and motions were called "a strip-tease with clothes on" or "sexual self-gratification on stage." They were compared with "masturbation or riding a microphone." Some saw the singer as a sexual pervert, and psychologists feared that teenaged girls and boys could easily be "aroused to sexual indulgence and perversion by certain types of motions and hysteria—the type that was exhibited at the Presley show."[3] Presley would insist, however, that there was nothing vulgar about his stage act, saying: "Some people tap their feet, some people snap their fingers, and some people sway back and forth. I just sorta do ‘em all together, I guess."[211] In August 1956, a Florida judge called Presley a "savage" and threatened to arrest him if he shook his body while performing in Jacksonville. The judge declared that Presley's music was undermining the youth of America. Throughout the performance (which was filmed by police), he kept still as ordered, except for wiggling a finger in mockery at the ruling.[212] (Presley recalls this incident during the '68 Comeback Special.)

With some of that background I show this album cover and ask what the image said to kids in the 1950s?

From there I talk about The Clash's Album Cover London Calling:

You can of course read about how the Clash started punk rock with the Sex Pistols.

From there I like to think of Elvis and the Clash having a conversation - what are they saying to each other - how does the Clash cover take on additional meanings if you know that they are both paying tribute to and trashing Elvis' legacy.

In the world of art you can look at a pair of images like:


You can also do a big music sample - You can look at this blog to get some ideas of how MJ is intertextual. and probably add to it the Rihanna's "Please don't stop the music" that samples "Wanna Be Starting Something"

The point is I'd do a little warm up with two quick texts to get them thinking about
1. The conversations that are caused by intertextuality
2. The way meanings change with intertextuality.

You can also do this in reverse. You can show them The Clash cover and then ask them what is the Clash saying about their music and rock and roll. Then you can unleash the Elvis cover and see how that changes/enhances the meaning.

I would think when you get to the OMAM clips the simmilarity / difference activities would be an essential pre-writing brainstorm so that students would be able to write mindfully about the dialogues between the two texts. I would also plan on screening each clip twice so that they can watch once for pleasure and do a closer viewing where you have them look for specific points of comparison using a graphic organizer.

Intertextuality is a pretty abstract concept so I find going over allusions and textual dialogues with multiple texts helps students latch on to the idea. There are so many shades of meaning - that is to say parodies are usually very different intertextual references than allusions.

I have NO idea if this helps - I'm kind of babbling - just know I tried - let me know if I can give you any more ideas!

Happy Holidays!!

Ryan -
Sorry it took me so long to respond. Christmas madness took over!

Thank you so much for all of the great ideas. You have given me plenty to think about, and you're right, they need some good examples as a starting point before they can even begin applying it to the clips I want to use with OMAM.

Thanks again!
I just wanted to update you and let you know that I DID do this this year, and it worked out incredibly well! I added Wood's American Gothic with Barbie and Ken first. We did an analysis of American Gothic, then went on to the Barbie and Ken version. The kids thought it was hysterical. They automatically recognized B & K and were able to identify what the images signified and then began applying it to the original image. I even have students coming into my class now telling me about other instances of intertextuality.

And then of course I wandered over to my favorite pop culture blog and found this guy. I'll have to add him to the powerpoint next year:

I'm so glad those ideas were helpful. If you find any other cool examples do consider sharing them online. Maybe we should start a discussion on examples of IT and we could crowdsource it.

Sounds like an exciting unit. Isn't it crazy how easily students lock into the visual. Thank you so much for writing a follow up!




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