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EXPLICATING THE PERSISTENCE OF MEMORY BY SALVADOR DALI
Description of Lesson: The first activity in this lesson encourage students to explore the details of a painting by asking themselves questions about details in the painting and how the details relate to each other. Students then write a short fictional sketch based on the questions that they asked themeselves. The second activity provides students with an opportunity to explore the details of the painting by sketching, identifying, and analyzing the details in the painting to help them prepare for a discussion of the connections between the painting and The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. 


The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali
CONTENTS


PRE-EXPLICATION ACTIVITY #1

In this activity students explore the details of a painting by asking themselves questions about details the painting and how the details in the painting relate to one another. Students then write a short fictional sketch based on the questions that they asked themselves.

Directions: The teacher guides students through steps #1-3 of the following activity.

STEP ONE: Write ten or more questions about the painting. Each question should revolve around a detail in the painting.

STEP TWO: Write ten or more questions about how the details you see in the painting relate to one another. Is one detail more significant than another? Why is this so? Frame your questions in terms of how you interpret the painting, e.g.: Why am I concentrating on this detail rather than that one? Could it have something to do with a hypothesis I already have?

STEP THREE: Create a fictional scene in which you do not mention the painting. Pick three or four details, whatever they may be, and use them to create a mood, a setting, and a story that resonates with your experience of the artwork. Write about these details as you would in an inside joke: so that anyone in the class will know where they came from, and why, but no one else will. Be as creative and imaginative as you can.



EXPLICATION OF THE PERSISTENCE OF MEMORY 

In this activity students explore the details of the painting by sketching, identifying, and analyzing the details in the painting. Students use the information that they gathered to identify and explain connections between the painting and Kafka's novella The Metamorphosis.

 

1. Complete a quick sketch and label the major elements in this painting.

 

2. State the denotative and connotative meanings of the title.

 

3. Identify six different elements in the painting by describing each in concrete detail. Then explain what you believe to be the symbolic meaning for each element.

 

4. Describe how color and light is used in this work and any significance you believe it has.

 

5. Describe the composition used in this painting and any significance you believe it has.

 

6. What is the subject of this painting? Explain how two elements in the painting support your answer.

 

7. Many works of surrealism used incongruity. Based on this information, and your new knowledge of surrealism, explain how the following quote relates to The Persistance of Memory:

“[Surrealism is] beautiful as the chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella on an operating table.”

 

8. Explain how Dali’s painting relates to the theme of “the problematic existence of modern man”. 

Essay Response: Write an explication that uses an analysis of specific elements in Dali’s The Persistence of Memory to explain how the theme of the painting relates to the theme of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis.



STUDENT RESPONSE TO THE PRE-EXPLICATION ACTIVITY

 

STEP ONE RESPONSES:

1. Why are there 3 clocks?

2. What are ants pouring out of the orange pocket watch in the bottom left hand corner?

3. Did someone hand their clock out to dry on the tree limb?

4. Is the tree living, dead, or artifical?

5. Have the clocks stopped melting, or are they still in the process of it?

6. What is the clock in the middle melting over?

7. Is that an evening or morning sky?

8. Is Death getting a suntan on the beach?

9. Why does the sunlight not reach past the beach?

10. Have the clocks stopped or can melted clocks still run?

 

STEP TWO RESPONSES:

1. Why is the tree growing out of the counter?

2. Why is the clock with ants not melting like the others?

3. Did the clocks melt because of the strangely-colored sky?

4. Was the brown hairy tent carrying the clock when it melted?

5. Why are the ants not bothering the other clocks?

6. Did Death leave his clocks to melt so he could get a suntan?

7. Why does one clock have a yellow and the others don’t?

8. Why do the two rightmost clocks look similar?

9. Why is the other counter so far away from the first?

10. Why are the three clock’s faces the same color?

 

STEP THREE RESPONSE:

After starring in The Seventh Seal, Death took his brown hairy tent and four expensive pocket watches and went on vacation. He went to get a tan on the beach, leaving his watches and tent in the abundant shade. But he was a very irresponsible watch owner, and he didn’t know that ants infest watches, or that things melt in the shade. So while he was sunbathing with a bottle of deep tanning oil in his hand, his investment in the collectivle watch market was ruined, and he didn’t even know it. In fact, he forgot all about them while reading his copy of “How to teach 10th grade English and fell asleep because it was so boring. That’s when we were able to arrest him. If you have heard about such an irresponsible timepiece owner, please contact the Bureau of Clock/Watch Investigation at 1-800-OUT-OF-TIME or visit our website at www.stopwatchclockabuse.com. Don’t be an irresponsible timepiece owner, WE’RE WATCHING YOU!

 

                   

© 2010 THE VISUAL LITERACY PROJECT

 

  


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