Humanities in Class: Webinar Series, Beyond the Monograph

Teaching To Kill a Mockingbird

Lead Scholar: Lucinda H. MacKethan (Fellow, 1984–85)

March 12, 2015

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is anchored in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama, in the 1930s, when the Depression locked the Deep South in poverty, and segregation was firmly entrenched. Yet the novel’s publication date is 1960, and in the five years preceding its appearance, Alabama, like all of the South, was nearly rocked from its foundations by violent political and social storms. In this webinar we will explore To Kill a Mockingbird as a work that bears witness to the tumultuous 1950s while it also dramatizes the historical forces ranged against any inroads threatening age-old southern institutions. How do families in Maycomb both embody and challenge these ideologies? What do their encounters with the socially sanctioned values of tradition and stability tell us about the possibility of achieving a new order founded on justice and equality? And what does the future hold, if the answer to change is no?

Subjects: Literary Criticism; Fiction and Poetry; Education Studies; American Literature; American Civil Rights Movement; Racial Discrimination; Novels; American South