"Integrating the Internet with the Literature Lesson"
by Ahuva Weiss
Download the Word Document of this file
This unit presents an interdisciplinary approach to the English lesson. The poet chosen for this unit is included in the Bagrut literature progran. The unit integrates literature, art and the internet which provides endless, varied and exciting materials for use in reading, writing and oral presentation. Activities for group-work promote social interaction. In fact, the unit touches all four domains discussed in the New Curriculum i.e. accessing information, social interaction, appreciation of literature, language and culture and presentation.
W.H. Auden Bruegel’s “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus”
Level: 11th / 12th grades, 5pt. Bagrut level / Native speakers
Time needed for activity: 1-2 lessons in the computer lab
2 lessons in the classroom
- Reading and understanding the poem “Musee des Beaux Arts” by W. H. Auden
- Using the Internet to find the legend and painting(s) mentioned by the poet as well as necessary background information. I have chosen to do this prior to the reading of the poem.
- Students should have basic skills of browsing; if not, this can serve as practice.
- Classes with knowledge of Power Point can prepare presentations of their findings.
- Students will learn a poem (from their Bagrut program) with the aid of the internet.
- Students will learn/practice using the web and locating given sites.
- Students will take a virtual trip to a museum.
- Students will practice scanning for specific information on the Internet.
- Students will present their findings orally. Those who know it will use Power Point to help them in their oral presentation.
Teaching and learning techniques:
- Pair-work in the computer lab. Worksheets with instructions and specific web sites given.
- Pairs are grouped. Each group of 4-6 will work together on an oral presentation of findings.
- Teacher reads the poem aloud (twice). Then there are 2 options:
a)class discussion- interpretation of poem based on what the students have read /seen on the web or heard from their classmates’ reports.
b) individual work- a written assignment or a worksheet aimed at comprehension and interpretation of the poem .
Rationale: In the age characterized by massive amounts of information transmitted worldwide through computers, the EFL class cannot remain unchanged. It is important to have the students use the Internet as a research
tool and show them how to be selective as to the reliability of the sources. It is also a source of enrichment for any topic, theme, or current issues dealt with in class.
Furthermore, the Internet can be used to integrate different subjects in school, thus helping the school set up interdisciplinary projects. In this short unit on a poem by W. H. Auden, the Internet has allowed facile integration between literature, art and the historical theme of the indifference of mankind in the face of suffering and disaster.
It goes without saying that the internet provides endless, varied and exciting materials for use in reading, writing and oral activities in the English class.
Note to the teacher:
If you would like to have the whole class read the poem and have a glimpse at the painting, go to : http://www.emory.edu/ENGLISH/classes/Paintings%26Poems/Auden.html
This site is also given in the " Group C" work-page.
TEL : 02-6513003
A Greek Legend
You are going to find out about a certain legend from Greek Mythology. You will then tell your class what you have learned.
- Before you work on the Internet:
- Tell each other whatever you know about the names "Daedalus" and "Icarus".
- Write down the parts of the story you shared with each other. __________
- Search the Web.
In order to find out more about the legend, go to web-sites which tell us about Greek Mythology.
The legend of Daedalus and Icarus: 2 short encyclopedic entries:
Fill in according to what you have read.
Daedalus was an _________. He designed the __________ which was a maze (îáåê ) on the island of Crete. He was imprisoned in this Labyrinth and in order to _______ , he made wings for himself and for his ______, Icarus. These wings were made of _________ held together by _______, Daedalus told his son not to ______ too close to the sun, but Icarus did not _______ to this warning and he _______ too high up. The sun ________ the wax and he fell.
- What do you think about Icarus? Discuss his character and action (several possibilities)
- What do you think of the consequences (úåöàåú ) of his actions? Was it a punishment? A natural event? An important event?
You will look at a painting and read an interpretation of it. You will then tell the class about what you have seen and read.
I. In order to see the famous painting, go to the following web site:
http://www.artchive.com/artchive/B/bruegel/icarus.jpg.html (large on screen) OR
http://www.cc.emory.edu/ENGLISH/classes/Paintings&Poems/Icarus.jpg (small on screen)
1. Scroll down to see the whole painting, its name, the name of the artist and the year it was painted. Write down all this information._____________________________
- Look closely at the painting. Discuss what you see and then, as a group, write down the description of what you see in this picture.
- Look at the name of the painting. What is the connection? __________________
- Read an interpretation of this painting. Go to : http://www.eng.fju.edu.tw/English_Literature/poetry_art/icarus.htm the painting with a short analysis. Then go to: http://www.ikm.his.se/ikm/~susanne/Renaissance/Renaissance1a **
- Read paragraph II ("At first sight…") and paragraph III. According to this passage, there is a story behind this painting. Which parts of the story (a Greek Legend) are shown in the painting? _______________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________
- Scan paragraph VI ("SO far…") for some details in the picture which do NOT follow the Greek Legend of Icarus
a. _______________________ b)_________________________________
Scroll down and find 3 themes presented by the writer "Motifs and Themes". Copy them down.
W. H. Auden
You will find out about a modern poet using two different sources: the Internet and the nelectronic encyclopedia. You will then share this information with your class.
I. Go to http://www.encyberpedia.com/ency.htm
Click on “Biography” and search for Auden. This is a web-encyclopaediaL or go straight to this Biographical entry: http://www.biography.com/cgi-bin/biomain.cgi or at another biographical site: http://www.poets.org/lit/poet/whaudfst.htm
1.W.H.Auden was born and educated in ____________. He died in the year ____.
2.Additional information ______________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________
II. See Appendix : Read the passage on W.H. Auden
1. Auden was known for his sensitivity towards social injustices. Copy the sentences in paragraph 2 that show that he was against war. __________________________
2. Look at the dates of the poems which express Auden's antiwar feelings. He was alluding to the difficult years _______ War ___which began in ____.
3. Read the first 4 lines of paragraph III ("Auden lived in Germany…) According to these lines, he helped a certain Jewish woman at a time when it was dangerous for her to remain in Germany. The woman's name was ________________ and he helped her by ___________ her fictitiously (= not really) though he was not Jewish, so that she could get a British ________ and escape to England. He did this at a time when the Nazis came to ______ and the rest of the _________ kept silent.
III. Read Auden's poem "Musee Des Beaux Arts", written in 1939.
( http://www.emory.edu/ENGLISH/classes/Paintings%26Poems/Auden.html )
Which lines connect it with the above question?
IV. You can hear Auden reading one of his poems.
Go to: http://www.audensociety.org
The Virtual Museum
You are going to find out about certain paintings by one of the ‘Old Masters’ of Renaissance art, Pieter Bruegel. You will visit a virtual art gallery as well as a museum in Europe. You will see various paintings, but will look closely at a few. You will tell your class where you have visited, and what you have seen.
You are going to visit the Web Gall
1. Go to URL: http://sunserv.kfki.hu/~arthp/html/b/bruegel/pieter_e/painting
2. _________________painted these pictures during the _______century.
Look at the ‘preview’ of the paintings and their names and categorize the paintings according to their subject matter or theme. Some may have more than one theme.
Landscape: ___________________ ___________________
Life of the peasants______________ ___________________
Biblical Themes _________________ ___________________
Legends and Parables____________ ___________________3. Go to another page at the Web Gallery. It has a few Landscape paintings by Bruegel. Go to URL: http://sunserv.kfki.hu/~arthp/html/b/bruegel/pieter_e/painting/landscap/index.html
Look at “The Hunters in the Snow” Double click on the picture to enlarge it.
Describe what the children are doing and where they are.
- If you wanted to see the original painting, which museum would you visit and in which city?
a) The Beggars _________________ , ________________
b) The Harvesters _______________ , ________________
c) Landscape with the Fall of Icarus ___________________, ___________
You are going on a virtual trip to the museum (see above 2 c) to see Landscape with the Fall of Icarus as well as another painting.
Click with your mouse on the picture fill in or answer the questions:
- The farmer is moving _______ from the sea.
- The shepherd is looking at _________________.
- The ship is moving towards/ away from ________________.
- Do you see the “Fall” of anyone?_____ Explain. __________________
- Click with your mouse or the “Back” icon to see the other painting by Bruegel at the museum. The name of the painting is ____________________.
- Click on the painting to get a larger image. Describe the old men and the baby. What is this painting about?
- It seems that Auden is referring to “The Adoration of the King” which is another painting in the Brussels Museum: http://metalab.unc.edu/cjackson/bruegel1/p-brue1-20.htm
Which lines of the poem seem to be describing this painting? What do these lines mean?
"THE OLD MASTERS"
You are going to enter a special museum: a virtual art gallery of some of the best known works of the “Old Master”. While you enjoy looking at the paintings, you can listen to the accompanying music. (Don’t forget to click with your mouse on the ‘play’ button.)
- http://www.mcs.csuhayward.edu/~malek/Addio.html This is a beautiful site (and sight!)
- http://metalab.unc.edu/cjackson/bruegel1/p-brue1-20.htm Artists according to names A-Z
- Write down some of the names of the well-known artists of the Renaissance and the names of their masterpieces:
_1)___________________ 2)___________________ 3)__________________
____________________ ___________________ ___________________
4.____________________ 5) __________________ 6) ___________________
______________________ __________________ ___________________
2.You can find out about the Renaissance in the following URL:
Pieter Bruegel is one of these ‘Old Masters’. Find out some biographical notes about him: Go to:
b) http://metalab.unc.edu/wm/paint/auth/bruegel/ a short biography together with paintings and some descriptions.
He was born in the ________ century and was the greatest Flemish _________. Bruegel was an apprentice ( ùåìéä ) to a man of many skills : _________, ________, ___________, _________, ___________. He traveled to __________ in 1551 and was possibly influenced by the Italian Renaissance. He settled down in ________ in 1563, marrying his teacher's ___________.
The main subjects of his paintings are _________________________________
See his paintings in the gallery at the following URL: : http://metalab.unc.edu/cjackson/bruegel1/p-brue1-20.htm
A)Look for “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus”. Click with your mouse on the painting to get an enlargement of the picture.
- What are the people in the painting doing?
- Which lines of the poem refer to what you see ? You can find the poem and the painting at: http://www.emory.edu/ENGLISH/classes/Paintings%26Poems/Auden.html
POST-INTERNET LESSON PLAN
The lesson suggested has actually become a unit. It provides time for the computer lab as well as for the classroom. The students will do their research as well as their oral presentations in the computer lab. The follow-up lesson or two will be done in class and will integrate the work done by the students so far.
- Class discussion and frontal teaching:
Auden’s poem will be read again, this time, hopefully, with greater understanding and appreciation. A class discussion with some frontal teaching will be necessary in order to make sure that the vocabulary and the poetic imagery are understood. This can be done through some leading questions, such as is done in Talking about Literature by N. Hess and E. Ezra.
Thought-provoking questions help the students interpret the poem and think of symbolic meanings of words and lines. The following questions are given here as examples:
1.”The sun shone as it had to” (lines 18-19). Why did it ‘have to’? Think of several possibilities.
2.What is the “failure” mentioned in line 17? Can failure be important? Explain your answer in connection to the context but also to life in general.
3.Was it important for you to know that Auden wrote this poem in l939? Why/ why not
- A cloze passage to summarize the unit
- Expressive writing:
Expressive writing is a journal-type of writing. The student will respond to the text, expressing whatever thought or feeling this poem has evoked in him/her. The instructions I would give the students are to write a paragraph as a response to the poem in their journal (or literature file, log or whatever you call it in your class).
- What do you think the poet was trying to say? Write one or two sentences. (A class list of such thoughts or statements can put up on the board.) The statement will serve as the opening sentence of your paragraph.
- Think of something in your life or world-knowledge that verifies or exemplifies your statement. Write about this experience or these facts following your opening statement.
- Challenge your students
- A challenging follow-up for the students who enjoy translations would be to translate the poem and then compare it with the translation by Yael Globerman
- Compare the two poems written about this painting. Find William Carlos Williams’ poem at URL: http://redfrog.norconnect.no/~poems/poets/william_carlos_williams.html
- Ask your students to find other poems written about other masterpieces
- Read and Discuss two other poems by Auden on the same theme: "Say This City" and "September 1939".
An Interpretation of the Painting (Group B)
Peter Bruegel the elder (1527/28-1569), painted "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, Oil on canvas(73,5 x 112 cm). It is on exhibit at the Museum of (Ancient) Fine Arts, in Brussels (Inv. 4030).
At first sight, the motif seems to be very clear. Ovid*s famous book
entitled Metamorphosis gives the story of Icarus in book number
eight. Ovid talks of Daedalus on his way home from Crete where he had
been imprisoned by King Minos. In Bruegel's painting, the small island is a
merged version of Knossos and Crete. To flee, Daedalus constructs for
himself and his son wings made out of feathers and wax which enabled
them to flee through the air.
Ovid says that a fisher, a shepherd and a farmer working on his field were
witnesses. Bruegel depicted all of them. Daedalus asks his son to stay
away from the sun. But Icarus does not listen. He enjoys
flying and climbs up too high. The heat of the sun melts his wings and
Icarus falls down into the sea. Bruegel chose the moment Icarus enters
After this story, Ovid tells the story of Perdix, the partridge. This bird sits
on the lower right corner of the painting and is the only being to watch
Icarus fall. All the others seem to be too preoccupied with their own
businesses. There are commentaries on Metamorphosis, which state
that the death of his son is a punishment for Daedalus. The story of
Perdix tells us why:
In Athens, Perdix was the apprentice of Daedalus. Instead of
Daedalus, the teacher and inventor, his apprentice invented a saw and a pair of
compasses. Out of envy, Daedalus tried to murder Perdix by throwing
him down the Acropolis. But the goddess Pallas Athene saved Perdix's
life by transforming him into a partridge. Now, the bird is watching the
death of the son of his murderer.
So far, everything seems to be clear. But Bruegel did not follow the story
of Ovid step by step, in a linear way. Where is Daedalus? Why is the sun
low at the horizon when it was the heat of the midday sun which had
melted Icarus' wings? These questions are used by those who try to state
that not this but the picture in the private collection is the authentic one,
because it follows Ovid's story line by line: Daedalus is still flying, while
Icarus is falling, and the sun is high in the sky.
Looking even closer at the picture, the observer finds a sword
in the left foreground - which is stuck inside its holder. Getting
suspicious, the viewer will find the head of a dead person in the bushes
behind the horse. There is no mention of these things in the Ovid story.
MOTIFS and THEMES
*We know that at the time of Bruegel, in the middle of the 16th century, it
was often a very popular saying that served as a motif of a painting. So, in
this case there would be two proverbs at hand: A)"Sword and plough need
trained hands" or another one: B)"No plough stands still over the death
of a person". Art historians interpreted the absence of interest in the death
of Icarus in the fisherman, the farmer and the shepherd as the main
subject of the painting.
* The human being who tries to overcome nature and cosmos has to die
because of natural laws which are to be respected also by individuals.
* The farmer represents a proletarian mass following the laws, while Icarus is
an example for an elitistic single fighter. (Hans Sedlmayr)
But these easy, interpretative answers do not explain why Daedalus is not
part of the painting or why the death of Icarus is not placed in the centre
of the picture.
A current subject of artists at that time was the creation of *close* and
*far* in landscape painting. Joachim Patinir (ca 1480 - 1524) developed the
pattern of the three sections in a landscape painting: fore-, middle- and
background which was used in Netherland landscape painting from then
onwards. The continuity of the space is constructed by three parallel
areas which start in the foreground with a dark green or brown, continue
in the middle area with a lighter green and close the space with a blue
background. Borders between these zones are covered with little hills or
The setting of his picture can be located in reality - as it is the case with
Patinir*s Mary Magdalena. In the middle of the 16th century, geography
was one of the most interesting subjects. Powerful men had rooms full
with maps, and paintings of cities, harbours, etc. One of the friends of
Bruegel was Abraham Ortelius, one of the most important geographers of
his time. Together with him he visited Italy in 1551 for two years. We have
a painting of the harbour of Naples.
Auden: a short biography (Group C)
My Poet Pages | Poet Links
W. H. Auden (1907-73)
Picture from 1995 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. (UPI/Bettmann)
from "September 1, 1939"
"Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
of Eros and of dust,
Beleagured by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame"
-- W.H. Auden
The English-born American writer Wystan Hugh Auden, b. Feb. 21, 1907, d.
Sept. 28, 1973, was one of the most important poets of the 20th century.
Educated at Oxford, he first attracted attention as a prominent member of
a group of young leftist writers who generally expressed a socialist
viewpoint, while continuing the artistic revolution of such earlier writers
as T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, and Ezra Pound. This group included the
poets Louis MacNeice and Stephen Spender and the novelist Christopher
Auden's earworks are startling in several ways. They contain unusual
meters, words, and images, juxtapose industrial and natural landscapes,
and mix the rhythms of poetry with those of jazz music. Some critics feel
that Auden's first books, Poems (1930) and The Orators, an English Study
(1932), contain some of his finest work. A prominent theme in these poems
is the dissolution of civilization and culture. With Isherwood, Auden also
wrote three plays: The Dog Beneath the Skin (1935); The Ascent of F6 (1936);
and On the Frontier (1938). In the later poems of the 1930s, such as those
in Look, Stranger! (1936) and Journey to a War (1939), his political and
antiwar sentiments are expressed, but the poems lack some of the force
of his earlier work. Another Time (1940) contains lighter and more romantic
Auden lived in Germany, where he witnessed the rise of nazism, and
during the Spanish Civil War he served as an ambulance driver. In 1936
he married Erika Mann, daughter of Thomas Mann, to provide her with a
British passport and enable her to leave Germany. In 1937 he received
King George's Gold Medal for Poetry. Auden immigrated to the United
States in 1939 (he became an American citizen in 1946) and at about the
same time returned to the religion of his youth, Anglicanism. His
wide-ranging intellectual interests and his technical virtuosity in a variety
of metrical forms are apparent in such works as The Double Man (1941),
For the Time Being (1944), and the 1948 Pulitzer Prize-winning The Age of
Anxiety (1947). These works also bear the stamp of his religious
reaffirmation, although this is expressed by treating of questions
concerning existence rather than by discussing his own spiritual struggles
and achievements. In 1945 he published The Collected Poetry of W. H.
Auden, a widely read volume in which poems were so arranged as to defy
chronology. In this volume, too, he revised many poems and omitted
others, among them two of his most popular political poems. Many
charged that Auden was censoring his early political self in a kind of
purge. The poet, however, gave reasons of technical correctness.
Nones (1951), The Shield of Achilles (1955), Homage to Clio (1960), About the
House (1965), and City without Walls (1969) added steadily to the store of
his carefully made, playful or irreverent, and sometimes deceptively
simple short poems. In 1954 he received the Bollingen Poetry Prize. From
1956 to 1961 he held the chair in poetry at Oxford. Critical essays
published in The Enchafed Flood (1950), The Dyer's Hand (1962), and
Forewords and Afterwords (1973) increased his reputation for catholicity of
taste. He influenced a generation of new poets by teaching, reading his
poems, lecturing in colleges and universities throughout the United States
and England, and editing the Yale series of young poets' work.
In his later years Auden spent part of the year at his apartment in New
York (he always considered himself not an American but a New Yorker)
and part in Italy--later still, in Kirchstetten, Austria, where he owned a
house memorialized in "Thanksgiving for a Habitat" (1965). He received the
National Medal for Literature in 1967. With his close friend Chester
Kallman he collaborated on opera libretti, including Stravinsky's The
Rake's Progress (1951). He returned to Oxford as an honorary fellow in
1972. At the end of his life, Auden was generally thought to be the most
important poet writing in English.
Richard A. Johnson
[The Academic American Encyclopedia (1995 Grolier Multimedia
Encyclopedia Version), copyright (c) 1995 Grolier, Inc. Danbury, CT. ]
I've compiled the above information referring to some standard reference
materials, including The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-century Poetry,
Grolier Encyclopedia, etc.
ETAI 1999 Summer Conference