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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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3. Utopian Promise   



3. Utopian
Promise


•  Unit Overview
•  Using the Video
•  Authors
•  Timeline
•  Activities
- Overview Questions
- Video
Activities
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Activities
- Context
Activities
- Creative Response
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Activities: Author Activities


John Woolman - Teaching Tips

Back Back to John Woolman Activities
  • Woolman participates in a long tradition of Quaker journal-keeping begun by George Fox, the founder of the sect. Pious Quakers routinely composed spiritual autobiographies to be published after their deaths as examples and guides for those who read them. It seems clear, then, that Woolman carefully crafted and revised his Journal in anticipation of its eventual publication. Given this information, ask students to consider how Woolman's sense of audience and literary conventions might have influenced the composition and shaped the meaning of the Journal.

  • Woolman frequently explains his religious motivations in terms of "openings," or "drawings" sent to him by God. Ask students what they think he means by these terms. What rhetorical purpose do they serve? How do they work to justify Woolman's actions? Ask students to reflect on the potential problems this passive ideal of acting only when moved by God might pose for someone like Woolman. In explicating the tensions between activity and passivity in the Journal, you might point out Woolman's consistent use of the passive voice in his description of religious experiences.




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