Let’s Use Malcolm Gladwell’s Podcast to Introduce Kate Chopin’s The Awakening

Malcolm Gladwell examines the story of this famous painting to begin his podcast. Below is an image of Calling the Roll After An Engagement, Crimea, better known as The Roll Call. I used the image from Wikipedia; it is an 1874 oil-on-canvas painting by Elizabeth Thompson, Lady Butler. It became one of the most celebrated British paintings of the 19th century, but later fell out of critical favor. Elizabeth Southerden Thompson; Elizabeth Butler. I think the examination of this 19th century artist will help us appreciate Kate Chopin’s main character, Edna, as well as her ambitions to be an artist.


The Roll Call by Elizabeth Thompson

Malcolm Gladwell explicates the fascinating art history story of Elizabeth Thompson, and he begins her story with the story of her work, The Roll Call.

How do we know if we are in a pioneer moment (Jackie Robinson) or a moral licensing moment (Sammie Davis Junior)? Jacob Weisberg brings up this great question at the end of a recorded discussion he had with Gladwell at a 92nd Y event, and it may be a good place for us to start our conversation about the first episode, The Lady Vanishes, in Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast.  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjf8b_LLZ6g)

Click here to hear the entire podcast:  http://revisionisthistory.com/episodes/01-the-lady-vanishes

Respond to these questions in a word document for homework. We’ll do a think, pair, share when we start class on Monday.

  1. What does Gladwell mean when he says that Elizabeth Thompson’s story is repeated over and over again?
  2. Can you explain the term moral licensing into your own words?
  3. How does Gladwell use the example of Jackie Robinson who crossed the color line in 1957 and opened the door to African-Americans in baseball as five years later in 1962 there would be 150 African-American players?
  4. What happens to Elizabeth Thompson’s art career with her painting, The 28th Regiment at Quatre Brashttp://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/explore/collection/work/4408/
  5. Click on this to view her famous painting, Scotland Foreverhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scotland_Forever!
  6. What does Elizabeth Thompson’s husband write in his memoir about his wife’s famous art career? What does Elizabeth Thompson write in her memoir about her art career? Can you explain why each person wrote their account in that way?
  7. How does Gladwell wrap up the podcast with Julia Gillard, the first female prime minister in Australia?

About Bill Sullivan

I am an English teacher working with great students at Suffield Academy. I also teach seniors in various project-based learning environments. Some of the #PBL topics included global issues, such as Pandemics, Climate Change, and Water; more recently I have asked students to research and identify topics important to our school community and their generation. We curate these topics with a #StudentCenteredPBL. For the past eleven years, I also created a driving question for a class to research a local history mystery and present their findings in a community program partnering with our local historical society. These topics encompass researching the lives of enslaved individuals who were contributors to the foundation of our community.
This entry was posted in 21st Century Learning, American Literary Studies, Flipped Classroom, Podcast, Twitter and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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