Thursday March 12, 2015
7:00 PM to 8:30 PM EDT

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Elizabeth Taylor 
America in Class – National Humanities Center 

Teaching To Kill A Mockingbird

Webinar Leader

Lucinda MacKethan
Professor of English, Emerita, North Carolina State University
National Humanities Center Fellow

Webinar Details

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is anchored in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama, in the 1930s, when the Depression locked the Deep South in poverty, and segregation was firmly entrenched. Yet the novel’s publication date is 1960, and in the five years preceding its appearance, Alabama, like all of the South, was nearly rocked from its foundations by violent political and social storms: Brown vs. Board of Education, Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the murder of Emmett Till among them. The walls of the status quo in Harper Lee’s home state, built to withstand any change to its governing structures, were about to crumble. Thus To Kill a Mockingbird not only recreates the past but also uses it to parallel the writer’s present, and perhaps even to forecast the future. In this webinar we will explore To Kill a Mockingbird as a work that bears witness to the tumultuous 1950s while it also dramatizes the historical forces ranged against any inroads threatening age-old southern institutions. In Maycomb, people's lives seem frozen in rigidly predictable patterns pre-determined by an ideology of family origins which spreads out to enforce limitations governing class, race, and gender as well. How do families in Maycomb both embody and challenge these ideologies? What do their encounters with the socially sanctioned values of tradition and stability tell us about the possibility of achieving a new order founded on justice and equality? And what does the future hold, if the answer to change is no?