My students need 55 copies of Oedipus Rex and Medea.
I teach AP Literature and Composition to seniors in high school. We are in a very high-need area. The majority of our students are second language learners and their families work in local agriculture.
In terms of literacy, our students have much more "ground to cover" than the average student. They are not only functioning conversationally in a second language each day, but they need to use that second language academically. (Imagine if you had to write a formal essay analyzing a poem, or explaining a scientific process, in another language than your native one.)
Now place these same students on the stage of Advanced Placement, and they are competing with students who are native speakers and experts in using it academically because they have been immersed in it their whole lives. Linguistically, I know my students are phenomenal because they can function so well in two languages, but I also know that they face a challenge each day when they come to class.
My job isn't to just teach them to analyze literature, but I need to assist them with the challenges of academic literacy as well. While we do have an especially strong literature anthology, it does not include Greek plays that I feel are essential to understanding the roots of drama. I have been photo copying the plays for my students each year.
With new translations of Oedipus Rex and Medea, I can address the subtleties of the English language by inviting my students to compare the differences between the older translations and the newer ones. We can more easily discuss how each translator's choice of words affects both the meaning and feeling of a passage. This is something that cannot be done with literature originally written in English; Greek plays in translation are a perfect opportunity for exploring connotation.
Your help will enable my students to understand the subtleties of connotation in the English language--a skill which is the base of literary analysis. With this skill established in the first quarter of the year, they will be better prepared to tackle more difficult texts such as Shakespeare's Hamlet, and Morrison's Beloved. They will also be a step closer to their peers throughout the country who face the AP exam in May just like they do. Only now they'll have a better shot at earning a "5."
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