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10th grade English students create living museum to explore the Jazz Age
Students create Jazz Age Living Museum

Prep’s 10th grade English classes focus on American literature, not just as an analysis of the written works of the American canon in isolation, but also as a study of the historical context that shaped those works. 

This year, classes placed a major focus on works of the Jazz Age. To investigate and deepen their understanding of the era, for the first time, all sections of American Lit took over the library to present the Jazz Age Living Museum. The ambitious project consisted of groups of students researching and presenting on self-chosen topics that spanned the full breadth of the Jazz Age.

To call what these groups did “presentations” would sell them short. The groups were tasked with not only researching and writing about a topic from the Jazz Age, but also with educating their peers about it in creative and engaging ways—the “living” part of the living museum. Students laughed along with their classmates as they performed skits about important Jazz Age figures, demonstrated a cardboard version of an assembly line, and screened silent movies about silent movies. They cheered for reenactments of the debate for and against prohibition, and listened and applauded for live performances of influential pieces of jazz music, recitations of poetry by Langston Hughes and Claude McKay, and more, all interspersed with interesting facts and insightful commentary on the era.

Jazz Age Living Museum

The living museum exhibits demonstrated the sophomores’ incredible level of understanding of the material as well as an inspiring intertextual inquisitiveness.
"The Living Museum was supposed to be a time for the sophomores to come together, bond, laugh, learn from one another, but also a point where they realize some of the context of the literature we encounter in class, and the real repercussions of it in the world we live in, even in present day. It's an attempt towards a more in-depth interdisciplinary approach to literature, so there was tons of historical research context interwoven between the lives of Gatsby and the Harlem Renaissance." —C.I. Shelton, American Literature teacher