Tuesday, December 02, 2008

U.S. History Extra Credit Opportunity: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

In my classes students may earn a few extra credit points from time to time during different activities (vocabulary games, review games, etc.). For the first time in years, I am offering an extra credit assignment worth a full...drum roll please...TEN points.

My U.S. History class is entering the 1920s and the American writer that is most often associated with the 1920s is F. Scott Fitzgerald. Most know him for his classic American novel The Great Gatsby among other works. He was also a writer of short stories, one of which is The Curious Case of Benjamin Button which is currently available by itself and in a Penguin edition that includes other Jazz Age stories. Here is what the back cover of that Penguin edition says about Benjamin Button and Fitzgerald's other short stories:

IN THE TITLE STORY, a baby born in 1860 begins life as an old man and proceeds to age backward. F. Scott Fizgerald hinted at this kind of inversion when he called his era “a generation grown up to find all Gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man shaken.” Perhaps nowhere in American fiction has this “Lost Generation” been more vividly preserved than in Fitzgerald’s short fiction. Spanning the early twentieth-century American landscape, this original collection captures, with Fitzgerald’s signature blend of enchantment and disillusionment, America during the Jazz Age.

On Christmas Day, the movie version of that story comes out and it stars Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. Here is the trailer:

To earn extra credit, you must:
1. Be in my U.S. History class (World History will have their own opportunity for extra credit; stay tuned to the blog).
2. Read the story in its entirety.
3. Watch the movie.
4. Write a summary of the story and compare and contrast the book and the movie.
5. Attach your original ticket stub to your summary.

This will be due on the day you return to U.S. History after vacation, Wednesday January 7th. No late assignments will be accepted.

You might be thinking that this is a pricey venture. It doesn't have to be. First, thanks to Annie V. from my World History class, I found out that the story is available to read online for FREE. Follow THIS LINK to get there. As for the movie, if the price of a movie ticket is out of reach for you or your family, talk to me and we'll see if we can work something out.

You can also buy the story at the bookstore. I saw the Penguin edition pictured at the top of this blog post (and which, again, has other stories from Fitzgerald) at Borders for $13. You may also find that same collection in a previous edition entitled Jazz Age Stories. Borders also has just the Benjamin Button story for about $10.
I say why not get more stories from one of the greatest writers this country has produced for just three bucks more?

Also, I think it would be fun to go watch the movie together over the winter break. And no, you would not have to sit next to me; I realize that would ruin your social life forever.

Details to come.

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