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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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4. Spirit of Nationalism   



4. Spirit of Nationalism

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

Activities: Author Activities


Susanna Rowson - Author Questions

Back Back to Susanna Rowson Activities
  1. Comprehension: How is Charlotte seduced away from her school? According to Rowson's narration, what decisions and personal qualities lead to Charlotte's downfall? What lessons does Rowson hope her readers will learn from her novel?

  2. Context: Compare Charlotte Temple to Charlotte Manly in The Contrast. What ideals or stereotypes about womanhood do these characters exemplify? How do their relationships with "rakish" men turn out differently? What effect do you think the genre of each text has on its portrayal of these "fallen women" characters?

  3. Context: In eighteenth-century America, many arbiters of taste condemned novel reading as a trivial or even dangerous occupation for young ladies to engage in. Thomas Jefferson, for instance, viewed novels as a "poison" that could "infect the mind" and warned that "a great obstacle to good education is the inordinate passion prevalent for novels, and the time lost in that reading which should be instructively employed." How does Rowson foresee and deflect this kind of criticism in Charlotte Temple? Do you think someone like Jefferson would have been convinced that Rowson's novel was in fact "wholesome" reading for young American women?

  4. Exploration: Charlotte Temple was the first "best-seller" in American history; it had sold over 50,000 copies by 1812 and has gone through over two hundred editions in the course of its publishing history. The only other pre-twentieth-century American novel to circulate so widely was Harriet Beecher Stowe's enormously influential Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852). Why do you think these sentimental novels achieved such phenomenal popularity? What similarities of plot and narrative link Charlotte Temple and Uncle Tom's Cabin? To what kinds of people were these books designed to appeal?




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