In this post, we provide a variety of multimedia texts that you can use to investigate Harrison Bergeron through an economic lens. For English education, this may be a challenge, due to the fact that many models of literary criticism have emerged through a Marxist-inspired lens:
“Ever since the Romantics, commerce and culture have been viewed as antithetical, and many authors and critics have hoped to shield literature from the sup- posedly harmful effects of a competitive marketplace. Marxist lit- erary theory has only deepened what was originally an aristocratic contempt for and distrust of market principles and practices. And in the field of literature and economics, Marxism and its offshoots, such as cultural materialism and the new historicism, have achieved a virtual monopoly in the contemporary academy” (Cantor & Cox, 2009).
At the Stavros Center, we do not wish to promote a specific lens; we wish to offer choices and new ideas for educators to pursue in the classroom.
These choices also include mulitmedia texts to investigate (see our CCSS aligned research-based strategy for investigating multimedia texts) as well as reporting/writing tasks that view the texts through an economic lens:
“TEXTS” to Investigate
Harrison Bergeron, the full text by Kurt Vonnegut, available:
- Text alone.
- Student text in a chapter that includes text-dependent questions for teachers.
- Unit that also uses Brave New World and compares the effects of advertising.
- Receive free annual video of 2081at Izzit.org or view 2081 Movie clip on YouTube
- 2081 review/info on IMDb
- Harrison Bergeron (1995) movie information at IMDb
- Artist image of Harrison Bergeron “book” cover
- Production Design for 2081; includes great still images
- Forbes article about the Harrison Bergeron “effect”
- Analysis article about the Harrison Bergeron “state”
- Interesting paper: Alternative Theories: Science, Tech, and Equality (pg. 15 summary)
- ENotes about the text: themes, interpretations, and connections
- Sample essay 1
- Sample essay 2: letter to the editor
- Blog post on Teen Ink
- Still images from the original movie
TASKS: Reporting/Writing Through an Economic Lens
Use the PACED Economic Decision-Making Model to analyze the text:
Students analyze the text/s using the PACED model. This graphic representation is considered a report, especially when it is accompanied by a summary. In addition, students can use the information they create through rational decision making by:
- Creating a “process paper” where they describe their decision making processes.
- Creating a letter, comic, poster, PSA, blog post, or other multimedia report.
- Creating an argument: use to create an essay, speech or other multimedia