Last spring, at a time when I teach Emily Dickinson, I was surrounded, like we all were, by messages of “social distancing.” The term got me thinking about Emily Dickinson’s identical practice, though her reasons were self-imposed. I completely reinvented an analysis task I used to assign my students. A recluse at heart, Dickinson was a self-proclaimed introvert who had trouble adjusting to social situations.
Once I started reflecting on Dickinson’s life, I couldn’t help but think of other authors who would have loved this hiatus from social interaction, like Edgar Allan Poe, Henry David Thoreau, and Harper Lee. I even discovered authors who I didn’t know were “social distancers,” like science fiction author Octavia Butler.
I created this poster set to share my discoveries with other middle school and high school students. I love these posters because they’re big and bold, which make them the perfect back to school classroom decor. You can put them anywhere in your classroom or easily add them to a bulletin board.
This poster set draws on words of wisdom from classic authors (spanning 200+ years) with a penchant for their own space, including Emily Brontë, Marcel Proust, William Faulkner, and J.D. Salinger.
My favorite discovery from my research was learning more about Cormac McCarthy. So reclusive, he preferred to “eat beans for another week,” as his ex-wife, Annie DeLisle recalls, rather than earn $2,000 for a public speaking engagement.
Each poster features a framed photograph of the author and a chalkboard-style quotation penned by the author which captures the authors’ proclivities for social distancing. I also included an image associated with the author, like a sculpture or a painting.
Learn more about this resource here.
If you’re looking for more social distancing classroom decor, check out these space-themed posters for social distancing.
Who is your favorite literary social distancer?