Performing Resilience: The Study of Culture and the African Diaspora through Literature and Dance

byMika Cade

This unit uses literature and dance to explore culture, the African diaspora, and students' resilience. Two non-traditional texts are used, Ishmael Reed's Mumbo Jumbo and an Oakland, CA based hip-hop dance style called TURF dancing (Take Up Room on the Floor). The reading of Mumbo Jumbo will mainly be a character study of Jes Grew, a "virus" spreading across the U.S. and causing people to dance. We will study Jes Grew as a part of the African Diaspora and an example of resilience. Students will then use the same analysis to explore TURF dancing. As a final project, students will need to answer the question, "How does culture support the resilience of people and community?" They will answer this question through a self-created project in which they explore their own resilience, keep a journal, write a final essay, and participate in a student-created performance. Specific skills addressed are close reading, narrative writing, and a study of metaphor, personification, character, and theme. This is designed for my 9th grade English class but can easily be modified for higher-level English classes.

(Recommended for English and Social Studies, grades 9-12)


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