Law Meets Literature: A Novel Approach for the English Classroom

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9781475822564: Law Meets Literature: A Novel Approach for the English Classroom
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This text was developed by three experienced English teachers, who also happen to be lawyers. The law provides a new dimension to popular literary themes, like justice, fairness and equality. These legal documents will enhance the discussion in the English/Language Arts classroom. With the Common Core State Standards’ emphasis on incorporating primary documents of historical and literary significance, literature teachers have more opportunity than ever to use case law and other legal documents as texts. Each thematic unit includes essential questions, familiar fiction and nonfiction selections with connections to the theme, teaching notes, and relevant cases with before, during, and after-discussion questions. The text demonstrates not only the importance of the thoughtful selection of legal documents to meet state and national standards, but also includes new approaches to classic texts. With an easily accessible format, teachers will overcome any intimidation of case law and embrace the use of legal documents to enhance the literature in a new, insightful way.

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About the Author:

Gretchen Oltman, JD, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Leadership at Creighton University. She is a lawyer, author, and former high school English teacher.

Johnna Graff, JD, is a 2004 graduate of the University of Nebraska College of Law. She is currently an English department chair and teacher at Lincoln Southeast High School and adjunct faculty at Nebraska Wesleyan University.

Cynthia Maddux, JD, is a former practicing attorney and non-profit executive director. She is currently an English teacher at Lincoln North Star High School and adjunct faculty at Nebraska Wesleyan University.

Review:

This useful professional resource guides secondary teachers in their English classrooms. It will prove to be quite helpful in engaging students in thoughtful discussion about literature and its reflection in law and society. . . .The inclusion of legal case applications will certainly broaden students’ minds and quite possibly steer many of them toward legal careers. (VOYA)

I was amazed that these three English teachers were also practicing attorneys. I was astounded when this unique trio merged the provocative elements of literature with actual law. Talk about real and relevant! Literature helps us ask and discuss difficult questions, and the law addresses what to do when someone makes a mistake. This textbook bridges the two fields in a fascinating, thought-provoking way that will enliven secondary classrooms across America. (Joan F. Kaywell, professor of English education, University of South Florida; senior executive director, Florida Council of Teachers of English, 2010-2011; membership secretary, Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English; and author of Dear Author: Letters of Hope (NCSS Notable Book and 2007 VOYA Nonfiction Honor List))

Authors Oltman, Graff, and Maddux have written a masterful guide for English teachers. Law Meets Literature: A Novel Approach for the English Classroom calls upon the elements of fiction and non-fiction (character, plot, theme, tone, mood, diction) through the lens of contemporary legal themes: justice and injustice, fairness, mental illness, punishment, the concepts of freedom and reasonability, and others. Although the three authors are trained as lawyers, all have been teachers in the high-school English classroom; therefore, their ability to comingle legal cases, non-fiction writings, and traditional literature (including A Clockwork Orange, The Book Thief, The Bell Jar, A Raisin in the Sun, Native Son, and others, plus contemporary fare, such as Hunger Games) is apt and provocative. With a writing style that is direct, easy-to-follow, and, at the same time, engaging, this book is a compelling resource for twenty-first century students faced with mass-media visuals of police-versus-populous unrest.” (Anne M. Cognard, PhD, Recipient of U.S. year-long Christa McAuliffe fellowship; Nebraska Teacher of the Year; U.S. State Department Teacher Ambassador to the Republic of Georgia; U.S. Education Department representative to Japan)

Law Meets Literature is a practical and inspiring resource that teachers can put to work immediately in their classrooms. As a retired litigator and current English teacher, I am impressed by the thoughtful work they've done organizing challenging material and diverse texts to tackle timeless American dilemmas. As an ELA coach, I am thrilled to have such deeply nuanced lessons so clearly set forth that I can confidently give them to any teacher and trust that they'll be meaningful in the classroom. (Heather Eastwood, English Teacher, Mt. Eden High School, Hayward, CA)

Law Meets Literature is a superb examination of how one can use the traditional English class structure to incorporate deep lessons about citizenship and democracy. The primary documents of democracy and culture found in law also function as dramatic foundations for the teaching of skills within the English core standards. The questions and controversies are real and thus more authentic to learners. The approach advocated and detailed in this book makes the study of English and literature extremely tangible to teachers as well through suggested themes and a deep pool of connections and resources for the classroom. It is an important book for teachers seeking to deepen their lessons, engage learners, or prepare the citizens who will determine our collective future. (Justin Bathon, J.D., Ph.D. associate professor, University of Kentucky)

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