“Our Mere Defects Prove Our Commodities”: King Lear as a Disability Narrative

Tiffany DiMatteo, English, Myers Park High School

Final Unit (PDF)     Implementing Common Core Standards (PDF)

200 Word Synopsis

In this unit designed for an upper-level English literature class, students will analyze both King Lear by William Shakespeare and A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley using critical theories. Students will first engage in Reader Response theory to help their basic comprehension and interpretation of the works, and then the teacher will guide students through a Disability Studies perspective as applied to the texts. The unit models the type of analysis that can be performed on the texts and includes a number of successful strategies for high student engagement, including colormarking, annotations, small group discussion and Socratic seminar. The unit also provides background on Disability Studies and how to introduce it into your classroom, why it can be a useful critical theory to help students bring literature into the real world, a constant admonition for all English teachers. This unit meets or exceeds standards for AP, IB, and Common Core standards.