Carl Hanson

Teaching Social Studies Through a Literary Lens

When history is viewed through a literary lens it becomes a story, a compelling docudrama with comic and tragic moments, heroes, anti-heroes, and plot twists. It is a story which can be told by multiple voices each representing distinct, though sometimes shared points of view. I often employ well written researched historical documentaries-such as PBS’s The American Experience or Ken Burns Documentaries. I also use well written researched historical fiction, in addition to journalism written at the time of the event, eye witness accounts, oral histories, political cartoons, engravings, to supplement the class text book and aid in envisionment building and creating historical empathy. I seek to create spaces in my classroom where meaningful dialogues can occur, where sub literacies of historical empathy, social justice and inclusion are created and new understandings arrived upon. I strongly believe the purpose of teaching social studies centers around advocating self-awareness, the development of political consciousness and agency in young adults, preparing them to function as informed participants in a participatory democracy.

[Recorded August 12, 2023]

Carl Hanson, MSEd, is an educator and poet currently works as a leadership specialist for The New York Edge, a summer and after school program, at Queens Gateway School, where he student taught social studies and completed his graduate practicum in literacy studies working primarily with middle school students. A recent graduate of St. John’s University five year masters degree program. He earned a BSEd in Adolescent Social Studies Education and a MSEd in Literacy Education. He recently received the Dean’s Convocation Award for Academic Excellence in Teaching Literacy Grades 5–12. He is currently a Phd candidate in Literacy Education at St Johns University. Prior to attending St Johns, Carl attended the prestigious Academy of American Studies, the flagship school of the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History, where he received numerous academic honors including the prestigious Elaine Sherman Award for Excellence in American History. His primary areas of interests and expertise are the colonial, revolutionary and founding eras in early American History.

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