All Roads of Thought Run Through Oz: Teaching Any Topic using The Wizard of Oz

Dina Massachi, M.A., Interdisciplinary Studies, UNC Charlotte

L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has been a favorite since it was published; the story now has a place in history and Oz references are continuously made in all spheres of popular culture. What makes Oz so popular, so American, so adaptable, and what can we learn about American history and culture by looking at it? In this seminar, we will explore how educators (primarily of grades 3-12) can use Oz as a framework to make topics, including reading, writing, history, art, psychology, economics, even more relatable for their students! While fellows will be expected to read Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as well as view the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz and the 1978 film The Wiz, other possible texts will be determined based off of the interests of the fellows. Examples of other possible texts include: The PBS documentary American Oz, Henry Littlefield’s essay “The Wizard of Oz: Parable on Populism”, S. J. Sackett’s essay “The Utopia of Oz”, Jesse Scott’s essay “The Black Interior, Reparations and African American Masculinity in The Wiz”, and Todrick Hall’s YouTube album Straight Outta Oz, Gregory Maguire’s Wicked, Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must DieThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz comic, and the Sea Sirens comic.

Please note: This seminar would have the additional aim of preparing fellows to participate in a panel for CharlOz, a three-day, interdisciplinary festival (planned for September 27-29 of 2024) hosted in collaboration with UNC Charlotte, Imaginon, the Children’s Theater of Charlotte, the Charlotte Film Society, Charlotte Lit, The International Wizard of Oz Club, and the Land of Oz theme park that intends to explore not only how Baum’s fairy tale celebrated non-traditional gender roles, diverse characters, and valuable lessons, but also explore how Oz has changed to continue to reflect America, her values and her diversity.