The Great Depression
A document-based teaching unit
Lessons explore the film script of The Plow that Broke the Plains, a New Deal documentary on the drought and Dust Bowl; John Steinbeck’s The Harvest Gypsies on the condition of migrant workers; John Ford’s classic movie The Grapes of Wrath based on Steinbeck’s popular novel; and the New Deal’s “Living Newspaper” plays Power and One-Third of a Nation promoting New Deal programs. Through excerpts from witnesses called before the House Un-American Activities Committee examining allegations that the Federal Theatre Project used government funds to produce propaganda plays and promote socialist programs, students assess the degree to which government agencies used the arts to propagandize New Deal Programs and are challenged to debate issues relating to government’s role in supporting the arts.
Lesson 1: Documentary Film- "The Plow that Broke the Plains"
Lesson 2: Documenting the Migrant Experience
Lesson 3: Film Study of "the Grapes of Wrath"
Lesson 4: The New Deal's Federal Theatre Project
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