Remembering the Civil War: A Primary Source Comparative Study of Rhetoric and Author Purpose

byKariann Flynn

This four to six week curriculum unit for high school English learner students is an in-depth study of the Battle of Gettysburg and the rhetoric produced before, during, and after the battle.  Students will study the canonized literature of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and compare it to texts produced by participants in the battle and larger war effort, as well as a speech by Frederick Douglass.  In this unit, students will explore the ways in which Lincoln’s unifying rhetoric aligns, and does not align, with that of other authors.  Students will conduct inquiry-based research into primary source documents and compare their findings with authoritative secondary sources.  Throughout the unit, students will question the dominant narrative of the Civil War in American memory before making their own conclusions about the meaning of the Battle of Gettysburg, the Civil War, and the aftermath of America’s greatest internal conflict.

(Developed for English 9, grade 9; recommended for English Language Arts and U. S. History, grades 9-12)

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