Photo by Ty Browning
With pencil in hand, senior Zoe Scofield started sketching Frankenstein’s facial structure on a sheet of manilla paper. Gradually, by shading the Frankenstein object, it became more detailed under the picture had a 3D-look. However, Scofield wasn’t in her studio art class; she was in the midst of completing an AP English project.
In an attempt to help seniors understand literature in a different way, English teachers Amy Andersen and Meredith Sternberg have assigned their students projects that involve an artistic element. Sternberg’s IB English class had to create a piece of either cubist art, surrealist art, sculpture or collage inspired by either a scene, line or character from “As I Lay Dying” by William Faulkner. Andersen’s AP English class had to choose an artistic medium that tied together aspects of “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley and “Paradise Lost” by John Milton.
“I think writers and artists are one in the same,” Sternberg said. “They create something from nothing, and these works are impactful.”
Sternberg explained that she wanted to immerse her students in Faulkner’s way of understanding literature. Faulkner was inspired by the art he experienced in Paris in the 1920s and strove to incorporate art into his writing. He used language, and a lack of language, in ways that were off-setting to the public, but overtime have been recognized as powerful and deeply psychological.
In addition, Andersen felt that with the stress of the senior paper, her seniors would benefit from a creative project that allowed them to further their knowledge of “Paradise Lost” and “Frankenstein.”
“Sometimes [the projects] can just seem like filler work,” Scofield said. “But they do add diversity to our classwork, which I like.”
Through these projects, both Andersen and Sternberg agreed that they enjoyed being able to watch the students tap into a different skill set that they don’t get to see often in a typical English classroom environment.
“Of course, there are reluctant artists,” Sternberg said. “But it’s just as important to help the students see that they are capable of creation.”