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Thomas Eakins - Scenes from Modern Life HOME
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Overview
Lesson 1:
Comstockery vs. Eakins
Lesson 2:
Studies in Motion
Lesson 3:
On Being Different
Lesson 4:
Photographs as an Artist's Tool
About these Lessons
Overview:
Thomas Eakins' controversial life and work provides a rich context for student exploration, classroom discussion and personal reflection. The following lesson plans use ideas presented in the documentary as a starting point for further academic investigation and classroom activity. They were designed for grade levels 9 through 12, and cover the following subject areas: Social Studies, History, Art History, Language Arts, Studio Art, Technology, and American History.

Technical Note: the lesson plans listed here are available as Adobe Acrobat "PDF" documents. If you don't already have the Adobe Acrobat Reader, you may download it using the link below:
Download Adobe Acrobat Reader

Please Note: the video program contains several scenes featuring black and white archival photographs of nude male and female models, including some photographs of Eakins himself.

Download Eakins Background Information (11 k PDF) »
Thomas Eakins
Lesson 1: Comstockery vs. Eakins
Thomas Eakins' career as an artist and a teacher was not without controversy. In this lesson, students will explore the circumstances that led to Eakins' forced resignation from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. In preparation for a "mock" hearing before the "Board of Directors", students will research the historical conditions and people who were a part of this controversial episode and play out the scenario. The end result may be different from what actually happened, as the Board of Directors will vote on who made the most convincing argument. There is one classroom handout that accompanies this lesson plan.
Estimated Time: 7 sessions (within a 45 minute period)

Download Lesson 1 (30 k PDF) »
Download Lesson 1, Handout 1 (7 k PDF) »
Naked Series: African American Male
Lesson 2: Studies in Motion
Thomas Eakins made extensive use of photography to help his students understand human locomotion. In this lesson, students will be introduced to Eakins and his motion studies and create some of their own motion studies. Just as Eakins used the latest photographic technology of his day, students will use the current digital video technology of today to create their own artwork. There are no handouts that accompany this lesson plan.
Estimated Time: 5 sessions (within a 45 minute period)

Download Lesson 2 (16 k PDF) »
Photographs of motion series, Edgington Trotting by Eadweard Muybridge
Lesson 3: On Being Different
This lesson plan explores the life of Thomas Eakins who was considered "an original in a conventional society." By observing and reflecting on the life and art of Thomas Eakins, students will draw correlations between their own ideas of being different, their school environment, the determination to pursue goals and Thomas Eakins' life. The lesson utilizes the entire documentary film Thomas Eakins: Scenes From Modern Life, and is shown in three separate sessions. There are three classroom handouts that accompany this lesson plan.
Estimated Time: 3 sessions (within a 45 minute period)

Download Lesson 3 (25 k PDF) »
Download Lesson 3, Handout 1 (7 k PDF) »
Download Lesson 3, Handout 2 (7 k PDF) »
Download Lesson 3, Handout 3 (7 k PDF) »
Thomas Eakins
Lesson 4: Photographs as an Artist's Tool
Thomas Eakins incorporated photography into his work method and used photographs almost exclusively for some of his paintings. This lesson will introduce students to the artist and his use of photography in painting. Students will apply Eakins' method and create their own paintings or drawings. There is one classroom handout that accompanies this lesson plan.
Estimated Time: 2 sessions (within a 45 minute period), Student time to photograph and complete artwork

Download Lesson 4 (15 k PDF) »
Download Lesson 4, Handout 1 (8 k PDF) »
Photograph of Margaret Eakins and Elizabeth Macdowell sitting in beach grass at Manasquan, New Jersey, by Thomas Eakins
About these Lesson Plans:
These lesson plans were designed and written by Catherine N. Poole - Instructional Designer/Content Developer at Altered Image -- in collaboration with the following educators from the Philadelphia area: Jon Gluckman (English, Haddon Township High School), Bob Behr (Art, Girard College), Joan Gaither (Science, Girard College), Gary Kercshner (Art History, Conastoga High School), Colleen Law (Music, The Philadelphia School) and Stephen Rawls (History, Friends Select).

Cate Poole has over 20 years of combined media and educational experience. In the educational field, she has taught in both public and private schools. She was also the Executive Director of a science center in Maine for 3 years.
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Please Note: This web site contains several black and white archival photographs of nude male and female models, including some photographs of Eakins himself.

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