New for July at EDSITEment

Today, EDSITEment celebrates two July 12 birthdays: Henry David Thoreau and Pablo Neruda. EDSITEment also remembers William Faulkner, looks at the histories of London and the Olympics, celebrates New Mexico’s 100th anniversary as a state, offers a summertime reading list, goes to war, and reviews the events of July 1968.

July Birthdays

A treasured essayist and a renowned poet not only share July 12 birthdays, but two new Launchpads that examine at their work. The Launchpad on Henry David Thoreau’s essay “Civil Disobedience” looks at Thoreau’s attitude toward politics and asks, “What is Thoreau’s position concerning the purpose of government?” The “Oda al Mar” de Pablo Neruda Launchpad asks, “Who was Pablo Neruda, and what is his place among the world’s poets?”

William Faulkner

Don’t miss this Thinkfinity Community blog post on William Faulkner: “I’ll never forgot the summer afternoon in 9th grade sitting on my grandmother’s porch in Massachusetts opening Faulkner for the first time—I think it was his novel, As I Lay Dying…”

The blog posts also contains links to two curriculum units on Faulkner. As I Lay Dying: Form of a Funeral asks students to explore the context of As I Lay Dying and examine background information on social and economic conditions in the rural South in the first decades of the twentieth century, drawing parallels between Faulkner’s life and the life depicted in the text. The Sound and the Fury: Narrating the Compson Family Decline and the Changing South provides students with a solid understanding  of The Sound and the Fury and of the changing South, and allows them to be able to concretely to  analyze the novel in spoken and written forms.

Summer Olympics

As the world turns its eyes this July to London, the site of the 2012 Summer Olympics, it will be fun to take the longer view by examining the historical and philosophical significance of the Games in Ancient Greece. In doing so, we should ask: What was it like to compete in or attend the ancient Olympics? This EDSITEment feature transports us back to Classical civilization and the flourishing of small city-states in order to examine the values and cultural assumptions about human excellence and competition that dominated this distant but familiar culture. In addition, poetry has always played a central role in the Olympic Games. Return to the present to see how, in 2012, the chosen host city for the Summer Olympics, London, is shining a special light on this connection. Also learn about London’s distinguished relationship with the Olympics.

New Mexico

New Mexico celebrates its 100th year of statehood this year. Check out The Road to Santa Fe: A Virtual Excursion and discover the multilayered heritage of the peoples who call New Mexico their homeland. Our virtual road trip will take us through the terrain and annals of American history that characterize this remarkable landscape. Explore the history behind the oldest native and colonial habitations and roadways in our country and experience the unique mix of cultures and travel along El Camino Real (the Royal Road to the Interior), which was the great catalyst for cultural interactions.

Also take a look at NEH affiliate New Mexico Humanities Council’s online Atlas of Historic New Mexico maps. This website contains twenty historic maps of New Mexico, annotated with descriptions by the mapmakers and by other people living, working, and exploring in New Mexico at that time.

Summertime Reading

In 1988, NEH published its first Summertime Favorites reading list. Selections were based on an informal survey of sixty public and private schools around the country. Every book had been published before 1960 and so had stood the test of at least one generation. Kept in circulation through reprinting and republication on the NEH website, Summertime Favorites for K–8 readers proved enormously popular. From then on, the list was updated occasionally, but after more than two decades a great many new and beloved books have been published.

NEH enlisted the help of the American Library Association to reconsider all the selections. Building on the 1988 list, our goal was to recommend children’s books that met the standard of “lasting value.” NEH staff members read every proposed title and strove to come up with a reading list, not just for the summer, but for a lifetime. The Endowment hopes that this effort, which will grow and evolve over time, has produced a selection of books kids will save to read to their own kids in the future. Check out the suggested tiles for grades K–3, 4–6, and 7–8.

World War II

The War, a seven-part documentary series directed and produced by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, explores the history and horror of the Second World War from an American perspective by following the fortunes of so-called ordinary men and women who become caught up in one of the greatest cataclysms in human history. It will be rebroadcast on PBS starting on July 31.

The 1968 Exhibit

The 1968 Exhibit is an ambitious, state-of-the-art, multimedia exhibit that looks at how the experiences of the year fueled a persistent, if often contradictory, sense of identity for the people who were there. It is the unsettled nature of the debate about damage done or victories won that makes an exhibit on this subject so compelling and urgent. In July 1968, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is signed, Billie Jean King wins at Wimbledon, Saddam Hussein grabs power in Iraq, and the Special Olympics opens in Chicago.

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