Using an excerpt of Persepolis students will investigate how Marjane Satrapi represents her life by reading one of the book’s vignettes. The lesson focuses on point of view. Students consider how history is told by considering the author’s perspective in telling her story about the Islamic Revolution in Iran. This graphic novel helps students question different points of view in history. It also provides student with the format of the storyboard to consider how to tell a historical narrative, sequencing events, and highlighting cause and effect within a historical context.
- Students will translate their knowledge into a new context create a storyboard based on one important event of a revolution.
- Students will compose a historical narrative from a particular perspective of someone living during that particular revolution.
Contemporary refers to the existing or occurring at, or dating from, the same period of time as something or somebody else.
Graphic novelist is a person that draws cartoons to tell a story.
Vignette is a brief scene from a book, movie or play.
Historical narrative refers to telling a story with historical facts and meaning behind it.
Iranian Revolution occurred in 1978 and transformed Iran from a Monarchy to an Islamic republic.
Pass out a chapter of your choice from Persepolis (the first chapter, on the veil, is a good introduction), and read it aloud with your students. Discuss what the chapter was about, the perspective of the author, etc.
Questions to help focus the conversation
- What was the main idea of the chapter?
- What was the author’s perspective on wearing the veil?
- How does her account help you understand the context of the Islamic Revolution in Iran? How?
- Does the author’s point of view change our understanding of the history of this Revolution?
Explain to students that they will now be choosing from one of the revolutions they have studied so far and be challenged to choose one major event from it and create a storyboard or cartoon to illustrate that event. The minimum number of squares is 6, but they are free to go beyond that. Each picture should have text below it describing the scene.
Go over what a historical narrative consists of (a story with historical facts in it). In addition, they must write a historical narrative of this revolution from a particular perspective of someone living during that time (i.e. Marie Antoinette or maybe her maid, George Washington or a soldier in the American Revolution). This portion should be from 2 to 3 pages, double-spaced.
Students will be assessed on the creativity and content of their storyboard, not the actual artistic talent. In addition, their historical narrative will be assessed for historical content, grammar, sentence structure, and overall style.
Extending the Lesson
Introduce more information about the Islamic Revolution in Iran. At the end of the lesson, students could hang all of their storyboards in the classroom and you could have a “gallery walk” where they go around and critique each other’s work. You could also have students do a dramatic reading or role-play of their historical narratives.
New York State: The Arts
Standard 3: Responding to and analyzing works of art. Students will respond critically to a variety of works in the arts, connecting the individual work to other works and to other aspects of human endeavor and thought.
Standard 4: Understanding the cultural contributions of the arts. Students will develop an understanding of the personal and cultural forces that shape artistic communication and how the arts in turn shape the diverse cultures of past and present society.
New York / World History -Standard 2: Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of major ideas, eras, themes, developments, and turning points in world history and examine the broad sweep of history from a variety of perspectives.
• Study of the major social, political, cultural, and religious developments in world history involves learning about the important roles and contributions of individuals and groups variety of perspectives.
• The skills of analyzing history include the ability to investigate differing and competing interpretations of the theories of history, hypothesize about why interpretations change over time, explain the importance of historical evidence, and understand the concepts of change and continuity over time.
National Social Studies Standard
Era 7: An Age of Revolutions, 1750-1914
Students will learn:
• The causes and consequences of political revolutions in the late 18th and early 19th centuries
• Patterns of nationalism, state-building, and social reform in Europe and the Americas, 1830-1914
Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis, New York: Pantheon Graphic Novels
Persepolis, the Movie