My Rights Versus Yours: An Orwellian Take on Civil Liberties
Driving Question: Why do we have the rights we have? What would happen if they were taken away?
"George Orwell's 1984 is the expression of a mood, and it is a warning. The mood it expresses is that of near despair about the future of man, and the warning is that unless the course of history changes, men all over the world will lose their most human qualities, will become soulless automatons and will not even be aware of it." -Eric Fromm
Project overview: Students will study the Supreme Court, its impact on our civil liberties, and how it makes decisions through a SCOTUS trial simulation or a “Moot Court.” In their written and oral arguments on a specific civil liberties case, students will also incorporate an understanding of rhetorical techniques modeled in George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, warning the Supreme Court justices about what could go wrong if their side does not prevail.
Through our reading of 1984, we will analyze how governments abusing civil liberties are able to manipulate and control their citizens. We will learn about the rhetorical triangle (pathos, ethos and logos) and apply our understanding of rhetorical appeals and devices to the reading and to the project. There will be a heavy writing emphasis to this unit, with weekly timed write prompts responding to the text, and linking the text and project themes.
Brief for the Court. With your group, you will write a 5-page brief for the Supreme Court where you lay out your arguments for why the court should decide the case in your side’s favor. This is where you will also apply your understanding of rhetorical devices you will study in English class, including pathos, ethos and logos. As part of your argument, you will incorporate a “slippery slope” argument, explaining to the Court what the consequences will be if they set a bad precedent by not ruling in favor of your side of the case. NOTE: In our class, you will have several writing deadlines leading up to the final brief. These will be discussed in class.
Oral Arguments. You and your team will argue your case in front of nine Supreme Court Justices, incorporating the rhetorical devices used in your brief. You will be able to present your arguments, but will be interrupted and asked questions by the justices, so you must be prepared!
1984 Thematic Essay: You will take one of the timed essays you write in class and turn it into a polished final draft for assessment. Each timed write will receive an Accountability score to gauge your progress on the reading.
Chapter questions: Along with meeting project deadlines, your score for this project will also rely on your submission of responses to chapter questions linked below. These will be due each Friday by the beginning of class.