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EDUC 460

Fictional Characters as a Vehicle for Nationalism Lesson Plan


Carina Crescenzi Learning Objective: To understand how nationalism contributes to the citizenship and identities of people of different countries. This topic will be specifically examined by exploring how fictional characters have been used in different countries throughout the past as vehicles for nationalist influence and for the creation of a national identity. Purpose: The purpose of this lesson is to allow students to gain an understanding that there is indeed a range of expressions of nationalism, and no matter what form nationalism takes, it contributes to the identity of a countrys people. Thus this lesson directly addresses one of the main issues of the Alberta Grade 11 curriculum, that being: To what extent should nation be the foundation of identity?(Alberta Education, 2005). This lesson will be carried out by analyzing the role that two fictional characters had in influencing nationalist sentiment in their respective countries. These characters include Superman in America during the interwar period and World War II, and Pinocchio in Italy during the post-unification period. By examining characters in two different time periods from two different countries, it will allow students to understand that nationalism is not restricted to a particular time period in history, and will show them nationalism in different contexts. This will also help students to appreciate how the forces of nationalism have shaped the world. The accompanying activity will challenge the students to apply the knowledge gained from the lesson to create their own fictional characters that inspire nationalist sentiment based on a given period of time in a countrys history. Connection to the Curriculum: Together, this lesson and activity will address some of the main issues and general outcomes outlined in the Alberta Education Grade 11 curriculum, which has as its main theme Perspectives on Nationalism. These include: To what extent should nation be the foundation of identity? (how does nationalism contribute to the citizenship and identities of people?) Appreciating why peoples seek to promote their identity through nationalism Exploring a range of expressions of nationalism Developing understandings of nation and nationalism (relationship to cultural, patriotism) Exploring the relationship between nationalism and the pursuit of national interest

As mentioned, this lesson is designed for the Social Studies Grade 11 curriculum, and would be of optimal value if it is presented closer to the end of course. This is because it incorporates all of the above issues and outcomes, therefore the students should already have had the opportunity to explore them in lessons earlier on in the year. This lesson will be most beneficial if the students have already gained a concrete understanding of what Nationalism is, what influences it has on identity and citizenship, and how it affects a nations foreign policy. This lesson and accompanying activity would work well as a kind of end of the year assignment if it is expanded

EDUC 460

a little bit to include having students create a storyboard or a movie of their character demonstrating their nationalist influence on their country. These ideas would enable students to take part in inquiry by researching about nationalism during different periods in various countries, and translating what they have learned into an engaging hands-on activity. Activity Details: The lecture is intended to teach the class about how nationalism contributes to the citizenship and identities of people of different countries. It does this by exploring how fictional characters throughout history have been used by countries as vehicles to create a national identity. More specifically, the lecture examines how Superman came to be an American hero and a representation of the American identity with the onset of the Great Depression in the interwar period, and even more so with World War II. Superman was able to promote American wartime solidarity as he had the ability to take on modern threats in his comics as an up-to-date American with an American national consciousness. Another example used is the character of Pinocchio who was used to create a more solid and integrated Italy in the post-unification period, as a major theme of the story is an awareness to better yourself. This awareness was a direct call for Italians to better themselves as a way to improve their nation.

Now to take a deeper look at the activity that follows the lecture: The students will be divided into 3 groups each representing a different country. The groups are given a short description of a time period in that countrys history that is characterized by fervent nationalist sentiment. TASK: Each group will be commissioned by the government of their country to create a fictional character based on the information of the time period for the country provided to them. The groups are required to create a character that they feel can best be used as a vehicle to inspire nationalism in their respective countries and to create a national identity during the specific time period. The groups will be given 5 minutes to create their character (Note: due to time constraints in this lesson, students were only given 5 minutes to create their characters, but in a real classroom setting it would be ideal to give the students at least 2 class periods). They are then required to present and provide a brief explanation on the following: o Name of their character o Its characteristics and how the character promotes nationalism and the countrys national identity o A sketch of their character

**Hint** To help with the process of creating their character, students may look to research any symbols associated with the country or any values and qualities of the country. The 3 countries to be represented include: o France during the French Revolution

EDUC 460

o Germany under the Nazi regime during the interwar period o China during its economic reforms of the 20th century Materials Required: o Background information on France, Germany and China during the time periods described above o Poster paper o Markers/pencil crayons o Any technological devices for further research

Annotated Bibliography: Alberta Education. (2005). Social studies kindergarten to grade 12: Program rationale and philosophy. Retrieved from http://education.alberta.ca/media/456082/sockto3.pdf - The Alberta Social Studies curriculum was a very valuable reference for the development of this lesson plan as it was used as a starting point. This reference was very helpful as it allowed me to gain a better grasp on what aspects of Nationalism I should focus on in my lesson. From this guide, I was able to see the key issues and main objectives of the Grade 11 curriculum so that I could base my lesson and activity on some of these and ensure that it covered some of the main elements of the course. Bettella, P. (2004). Pinocchio and children literature. Quaderni dItalianistica, 25(1), 38.http://jps.library.utoronto.ca.ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca/index.php/qua/article/viewFile/9216/ - This journal article was used to gain a further understanding of the role that Pinocchio had as a vehicle for Italian nationalism and creating an Italian identity during the post-unification period. Gratien, C. (2008). The man of the impossible: Nationalism and the creation of ne w heroes in post-nasser egypt. Georgetown University Institutional Repository, 1-118. http://www.library.georgetown.edu/DGViewer - This scholarly article proved to be very useful in the development of the lesson as it provided detailed information on the role that Superman played to influence American nationalism. It was the primary source used to research the Superman section of the lesson as it provides details on the origins of the character, and how and why he escalated into a national hero that represented the American identity. The article also gives information on other fictional characters used in other countries during different time periods that had a similar role in influencing nationalism in their respective countries. Gurian, W. (1945). Hitler: The simplifier of german nationalism. The Review of Politics, 7(3),316-324. http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca:2048/stable/1404182?seq=3 - This resource was very helpful in creating the description piece that was used for the activity relating to Germany under Hitler and the Nazi regime during the interwar period. Perella, N.J. (1986). An essay on pinocchio. Italica, 63(1), 1-47. http://www.jstor.org/stable/479125 - This journal article gives an extensive analysis on the character of Pinocchio. It provided valuable information on the origins of the well-known character, along with the role the puppet

EDUC 460

had in influencing Italian nationalism, making this work the key piece of research used to develop the portion of the lesson on Pinocchio in post-unification Italy. The article also gave a good historical context by providing a detailed history of the Italian unification and the postunification period, which are valuable pieces of information in order to understand the role that Pinocchio had in shaping the Italian identity. Rowe, M. (2013). The french revolution, napoleon, and nationalism in europe. The OxfordHandbook of the History of Nationalism http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199209194.001.0001/oxf ordhb9780199209194-e-7 - This source takes a look at the principles of nationalism and self-determination during the era of the French Revolution, and thus played an important role in helping to create the corresponding description piece used for the activity. Sullivan, T.M. (2013, February 27). Nationalism studies: Cartooning the nation. Retrieved fromhttp://nationalismstudies.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/cartooning-the-nation/ - This article was also used, along with Gratiens article, to develop the portion of the lesson regarding Superman and American nationalism during the interwar period and World War II. It was a good reference to consult that filled in any small gaps left by the main source used to research Superman. Tisdell, C. (2009). Economic reform and openness in china: China s development policies in the last 30 years. Economic Analysis, 39(2), 271-294. http://www.eapjournal.com/archive/v39_i2_05-tisdell.pdf - This scholarly article provided useful information on the economic reforms of China during the 20th century that was consulted in order to provide a brief summary of the period for the activity.