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Understanding To Kill a Mockingbird: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historic Documents (The Greenwood Press "Literature in Context" Series) [Hardcover]

Claudia Durst Johnson
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 30, 1994 0313291934 978-0313291937

To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel of such profound power that it has affected the lives of readers and left and indelible mark on American culture. This rich collection of historical documents, collateral readings, and commentary captures the essence of the novel's impact, making it an ideal resource for students, teachers, and library media specialists. Drawing on multi-disciplinary sources, the casebook places the issues of race, censorship, stereotyping, and heroism into sharp perspective. Through these documents, the reader also gains a taste for the historical events which influenced the novel as well as the novel's relevance in today's world. Among the documents which speak most eloquently are testimony from the Scottsboro Case of the 1930s, memoirs and interviews with African Americans and whites who grew up in Alabama in the 1930s, and news stories on civil rights activities in Alabama in the 1950s. Most of the documents presented are available in no other printed form. Study questions, project ideas, and bibliographies are also included for ease of use in further examination of the issues raised by the novel. Thirteen historical photographs complement the text.

Following a literary analysis of issues raised by the novel, the casebook opens with testimony and newspaper articles from the 1930s Alabama Scottsboro Case. The significant parallels of this case to the novel paint a social and historical background of the novel. Memoirs and interviews with African Americans and whites who grew up in Alabama in the 1930s further complete the historical landscape. Articles and news stories from the 1950s depict the increasingly tense, volatile environment in which the novel was written and published. Documents examine the stereotypes of the poor white, the African American, and the southern belle; and how the novel allows the reader to walk around in the shoes of those who have been stereotyped. More current articles examine the legal, literary, and ethical ramifications of the novel. These articles include a debate between lawyers over whether Atticus Finch was a hero, and discussion of attempts to censor the novel.

Frequently Bought Together

Understanding To Kill a Mockingbird: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historic Documents (The Greenwood Press "Literature in Context" Series) + To Kill A Mockingbird (Barron's Book Notes)
Price for both: $54.74

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  • To Kill A Mockingbird (Barron's Book Notes) $5.39

Editorial Reviews


"This is exactly what every conscientious English teacher needs. History teachers will find it exciting as well. The concept is sweeping, bold, and imaginative; the execution fulfills the concept richly. I look forward more eagerly than ever to subsequent volumes in the series."-Robin Berson, Director Upper School Library, Riverdale Country School, New York City

Book Description

…will be useful to teachers and student researchers, as a journey toward a richer understanding of Lee's novel and the complex ideas society is still exploring. VOYA

Product Details

  • Series: The Greenwood Press "Literature in Context" Series
  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwood (November 30, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0313291934
  • ISBN-13: 978-0313291937
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,182,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understand the story behind the novel July 15, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is the most comprehensive book that encompasses all the historical events surrounding the time and place of the novel. Although it is a bit pricey, you will get your moneys' worth. Invaluable teaching resource for English and History.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ultimate reference book an overkill for 10th graders November 13, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This hardcover book is a joy to hold in my hands. With a white crystal coated cover, it is best to put a plastic jacket on quickly, as losing the shine of such an expensive book would be distressing. It is actually printed in the USA, mine being the 5th re-print. Nice stitching of the smooth white pages to the spine.

The paucity of references to the actual text means it is not an advanced version of Cliffs Notes. Nor is it a teaching guide for high GPA students. The author assumes you have read the book from front to back and from centre outwards, and invites the reader to savour the context of the book. "Literature in Context" is precisely what it means. Emphasis is on CONTEXT. The cover states clearly that you are going to get "Issues, Sources, and Historic Documents" and this is precisely what you get.

This book is not for those preparing to sit for an examination paper. Arguably, it is a good weapon to have if you have a zealous English Literature teacher throwing projects for you to do. It is more for people who have studied the book, watched the movie, and want to savour more. After all, Harper Lee (like Margaret Mitchell), published only one book (the 1985 work by Harper Lee, "High Romance and Adventure" is not well known). One good book is enough to give you a place in history. So it is for the curious who want to look around for clues to their success. For mature geezers who want to explore the peripherals of "Mockingbird" and more, this is the ultimate companion book.

Chapter 1 deals with two Universal Themes: Insiders vs Outsiders, and the Complexity of the Law as practised. There is a quick canter through (1)voice and language (2)tone (3)time and place of setting (4) characters (5) plot structure and (6) images and symbols.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth a Look October 9, 2001
As a participant in this year's "One Book, One Chicago", I have read the "REAL DEAL", which is the book selected for the program's inaugural year. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and also felt I had no problems understanding the critical issues illustrated in the book. I then made the forunate decision to attend a lecture by Ms. Durst Johnson at the Chicago Public Library; a lecture based primarily on information contained in her commentary. My time was not wasted: for as much as I had indeed GRASPED about the novel, there were still many more interesting things to learn that I had not even considered. While some may consider it "beating a subject to death" (or some such nonsense), your reading experience will definitely be enhanced by referring to, but not relying on, this book's contents.
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8 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars UNDERSTANDING? May 9, 2000
By A Customer
I first read "To Kill a Mockingbird" when I was 13 -- I had no trouble understanding it then and, not surprisingly, I still don't. Truth be told, while it more than deserves to be held as a "classic" (usually meaning insipid and torturous, though not the case here), Lee's novel is pretty straightforward.
You should have no problem determining how well Atticus Finch made his case, or how African-Americans were treated in 1935, or the history of the town that is so well-described it becomes like another character in the book.
The only reason to buy a book about understanding "To Kill a Mockingbird" is because you are a teacher who likes to beat the meaning of such things into the ground, or a student who has unfortunately been forced or advised to purchase an unnecessary guide to one of the most enjoyably down-to-earth books ever written.
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