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Keywords: photo
Subject(s): Art, Photography, Social Studies
Grade 12
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts
View Full Text of Standards
School: Steam Legacy High School, southgate, CA
Planned By: cynthia herrera
Original Author: cynthia herrera, southgate
Students should be able to:
- discuss and analyze the daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe by an unknown photographer.
- discuss and compare poems by Edgar Allan Poe with his portrait.
- make conclusions about Poe’s character based on his portrait, his writing, and the known facts
about his life.
Materials
- Image of Edgar Allan Poe by Unknown American Photographer
- Selected poems by Edgar Allan Poe:
For Annie (1849)
The Raven (1844, 1845, 1849)
Lenore (1843, 1849)
The City by the Sea (1831, 1845)
The Sleeper (1831, 1845)
- Looking at Portraits Glossary
Lesson Steps
1. Divide the class into four or five groups.
2. Show the class Edgar Allan Poe by an unknown photographer. In their groups, have them list
adjectives that describe Poe’s portrait.
3. Give each of the groups one of the following poems by Edgar Allan Poe:
For Annie (1849)
The Raven (1844, 1845, 1849)
Lenore (1843, 1849)
The City by the Sea (1831, 1845)
The Sleeper (1831, 1845)
4. After reading their respective poems as a group, have students come up with a list of
adjectives that describe the poem.
5. Each group should compare their list and answer the following questions:
- In what places did the poem match your description of Poe’s portrait? In what places did
they not match up?
- When we meet people, we often make judgments about them quickly, often “judging the
book by its cover.” Do you think Poe’s character was easy to read from just examining
his portrait?
- In what ways do you think Poe’s character shows through in his writing?
6. Have each group choose a reporter to read their poem and share their lists and answers to
the questions with the rest of the class. In what ways were the findings of all the groups
consistent? In what ways were they different?
7. Have everyone in the class read a short biography of Edgar Allan Poe’s life. Discuss with the
students how little we know about Poe’s life and how some of the truth about him was altered
shortly after his death. How does it affect our modern perception of the author? (You can find a
short bio on Poe on the Internet by entering his name in any search engine.)
8. Sum up the lesson by discussing to what degree the students think we can truly read a
person just through an examination of their portrait and by examining their work. What can we
learn from visual observation? What can be learned from literal observation?
Assessment
Students will be assessed based on their participation in the discussion.
Extensions
Annie, the woman who commissioned this daguerreotype, was Nancy Locke Heywood
Richmond. Poe and her closest friends always called her Annie, a name she adopted legally
after her husband’s death in 1873. In a letter of March 23, 1849, Poe tells Annie Richmond, “I
think the lines ‘For Annie’ (those I now send) much the best I have ever written.” Compare the
portrait of Poe and the poem For Annie and re-examine Poe’s statement made about his portrait
that, “My life seems wasted—the future looks a dreary blank.” How does Poe communicate
some of the same ideas in his poem For Annie? How do the poem, the portrait, and the
statement serve to foreshadow future events in Poe’s life?
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
Standards Addressed
Common Core Standards for English Language Arts
Grades 9–12
READING
Key Ideas and Details
1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it;
cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the
text.
2. Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the
key supporting details and ideas.
SPEAKING AND LISTENING
Comprehension and Collaboration
1. Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with
diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
2. Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually,
quantitatively, and orally.
LANGUAGE
Conventions of Standard English
1. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when
writing or speaking.
Visual Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools
Visual Arts Proficient
4.2 Compare the ways in which the meaning of a specific work of art has been affected over
time because of changes in interpretation and context.
Visual Arts Advanced
4.3 Analyze and articulate how society influences the interpretation and message of a work of
art.
English—Language Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools
3.12 Analyze the way in which a work of literature is related to the themes and issues of its
historical period. (Historical approach)

Follow-Up
create a self portrait in with cyanotypes
Materials: Digital SLR, Camera Bags, Word Processor
Other Items: 1 camera, $250 each, total of $250.00