The Life Fantastic in classrooms

Why read this book and discuss vaudeville in your classroom?

Marion Davies

Marion Davies, actress, comedienne, and William Randolph Hearst’s romantic interest. [photo: Wikimedia Commons]

There’s such a focus on celebrity and movies in teens’ lives. Wanting to be a part of the excitement is a reality for many of your students. The Life Fantastic captures the aspirations of 15-year-old Teresa who wants desperately to be singing on-stage. By studying vaudeville, you’ll have good discussions about history, economics, industrialization, the development of leisure among more affluent families, racism in the Gilded Age (in the 1890s up to World War I), and what led up to our entertainment-focused society today. The Life Fantastic provides a historically-based fiction narrative with opportunities to discuss social studies while exploring celebrities at the turn of the last century.

Will Rogers, storyteller, cowboy, humorist, actor [photo: Wikimedia Commons]

Throughout the next few months, we’ll feature articles about vaudeville set against the backdrop of historical events that will help you craft lesson plans for your classroom.

Here, we’ve suggested two people who were wildly popular in 1913, the year in which The Life Fantastic is set. Have your students do a bit of research about their lives and accomplishments. and compare them with today’s celebrities. Which of our current fan favorites will be remembered in 100 years? Are their lives and reasons for celebrity that much different?

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