Lesson Plan: Cover Stories

Fears of July (Grades 612)

1. Display or distribute copies of The New Yorker cover titled Fears of July. Do not reveal the title to students.

2. Ask students to look at the cover individually or in small groups for one minute and write down all of the things they notice on a sheet of paper.

3. After one minute, lead a guided inquiry by asking the following questions:
-  Who: Who do you see on this cover? How would you describe them?
-  What: What is happening in this image?
-  Where: Where does this take place? How can you tell?
-  When: When was this cover published? What is the significance of the date?

4. Recap student responses, highlighting the juxtaposition between the desire to celebrate the 4th of July – returning to normal – with the fear of another terrorist attack in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.

5. Share the title of the cover, Fears of July, by Art Spiegelman. Why do you think he gave it that title? What point do you think the artist is trying to articulate through this cover?

Share the following excerpt from the May 14, 2014, Pew Research Center article “More than a decade later, 9/11 attacks continue to resonate with Americans”:

The 9/11 attacks imprinted themselves on Americans’ psyches in a way few other events in living memory have. Beyond the human toll...the attacks struck deeply at Americans’ sense of security. In the 2011 poll, 75% of people reported that they’d been emotionally affected “a great deal” by 9/11, compared with 67% a year after the attacks; 61% said life in America had changed “in a major way” since the attacks, up from half who said that in 2002… In November 2013, the most recent time we asked this question, 34% said terrorists’ ability to launch a major attack was now greater than it had been prior to 9/11, compared with 29% who said less and 36% who said it was about the same.

6. Conclude by holding a class discussion focused on the following questions:
- Do you think this cover is still relevant today?
- How has the idea of “safety” changed in the years since 9/11?
- How does it reflect the reality of living in a post-9/11 world?

Image courtesy of The New Yorker © Condé Nast

Additional resources on ongoing mental health effects:
MEMO Blog: Q&A: Voices of Sept. 11's Mary Fetchet on Coping with Trauma 
Pew Research Center: More than a decade later, 9/11 attacks continue to resonate with Americans
Teaching Guide: Talking to Children about Terrorism
Inside the Collection: Wall panel covered in missing posters from the Pier 94 Family Assistance Center where pastoral, spiritual and mental health services were available after 9/11