Teaching Students About Tom Wolfe
As educators, it’s important that we expose our students to influential figures in literary history. One such prolific figure is the innovative American writer and journalist, Tom Wolfe. Best known for his contributions to the New Journalism movement and his ability to vividly portray the cultural landscape, Tom Wolfe left an indelible mark on contemporary literature.
By including lessons on Wolfe in your curriculum, you provide students with valuable insight into the power of language and a broader understanding of the world around them. This article outlines the key elements you should include while teaching students about Tom Wolfe.
Start by providing an overview of Tom Wolfe’s life and career. Born in Richmond, Virginia in 1930, Wolfe studied at Washington & Lee University and Yale University before pursuing a career in journalism. Highlight his work for various newspapers, including The Washington Post and the New York Herald-Tribune, where he began developing his distinct writing style.
The New Journalism Movement
Explain how Tom Wolfe played a significant role in the New Journalism movement – a style that combined journalistic fact with literary techniques. This movement aimed to create immersive storytelling using real-life events and characters. Discuss some key characteristics of New Journalism such as dialogue, scene-setting, point of view, and social criticism.
Introduce students to some of Wolfe’s most well-known works:
– “The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby” (1965) – This collection of essays put Wolfe on the map as a pioneer of the New Journalism movement.
– “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” (1968) – In this groundbreaking book, Wolfe recounts the psychedelic experiences of Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters.
– “Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers” (1970) – A biting commentary on the social and racial issues in America during the late ’60s.
– “The Right Stuff” (1979) – Wolfe’s non-fiction account of the United States’ first efforts to put a man in space, which won various awards and accolades.
Writing Style & Techniques
Discuss Wolfe’s unique writing style and techniques, such as:
– Satire – Wolfe often used humor and exaggeration to comment on society.
– Hyperbole – He was known for his use of extravagant and exaggerated language to enhance his stories.
– Scene-by-scene construction – Wolfe preferred to present events in real-time, as closely as possible to how they unfolded in reality.
Significance and Legacy
Conclude with a discussion of Tom Wolfe’s impact on American journalism and literature. Emphasize that his work has inspired countless writers to adopt his innovative storytelling techniques, elevating journalism into a respected literary form.
In conclusion, teaching students about Tom Wolfe will provide them with an understanding of the New Journalism movement and its significance in modern literature. By incorporating these key aspects into your curriculum, you will not only introduce your students to a legendary writer but also spark their interest in literary journalism as a whole.