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The Yellow Wallpaper

School: Harborside Academy

City/State: Kenosha, WI

Grade(s): 11, 12

Format(s): Visual & Narrative Arts, Photography

Subject(s): English Language Arts, Visual Arts

Project Overview

Eleventh and twelfth-grade students at Harborside Academy in Kenosha, Wisconsin completed this photography project with many literacy connections entirely in the Photography1 class. This project is the end of an investigation that was led by the guiding question “How do you tell a story in still frames?”

The project began with a literary analysis of The Yellow Wallpaper. This story was written in the late 1890s about a woman who seems to be suffering from depression and is locked in a room to “rest”, by her physician husband. She slowly slips into madness, believing the yellow wallpaper is trapping her. She eventually tears the wallpaper off of the wall and feels she has finally escaped. It is a well-written short story and a challenging text to all readers that can be understood on many levels.

To craft photographs, students thought beyond literal/illustrative images to figurative / conceptual visual communication. They utilized Adobe Photoshop to merge multiple images that represent emotions of the characters in the story, or their reaction as a reader. Throughout their analysis, students learned about the controversial nature of this story. At the time it was written it was considered scandalous and almost unpublishable.

To close the lesson students presented their final products to their peers. In the past years, final products have been shared publically, at exhibitions at the District’s Educational Support Center, the Anderson Art Center, the District Wide Art exhibit at the Kenosha Public Museum and the Summer Art Show as part of a community art fair.

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Demonstrates powerful imagery captured through digital photography
  • Excellent example of the exploration of a literary work through themes and feelings expressed in photography
  • Highlights an inspirational project with multiple applications

Relevant Resources

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can cite text-based evidence that provides strong and thorough support for an analysis of literary text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
  • I can analyze the overall impact of word choices on meaning and tone (including words with multiple meanings or language that is particularly fresh, engaging, or beautiful).
  • I can determine point of view whether it is expressed literally or figuratively.
  • I can read above-grade literary texts with scaffolding and support.
  • I can use a variety of strategies to determine the meaning of unknown or multiple-meaning words or phrases.
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