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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: Problem-Based Learning Projects

""How can I get my students to think?" is a question asked by many faculty, regardless of their disciplines. Problem-based learning (PBL) is an instructional method that challenges students to "learn to learn," working cooperatively in groups to seek solutions to real world problems. These problems are used to engage students' curiosity and initiate learning the subject matter. PBL prepares students to think critically and analytically, and to find and use appropriate learning resources." -- Barbara Duch, University of Delaware

  1. You are a member of Jonathan Edwards's congregation at Northampton in 1750 when the church is debating about whether to dismiss Edwards from his position as pastor. Take a position on the debate and construct an argument to deliver to the congregation. What reasons will you give for your claim that Edwards should be removed or retained? What services has Edwards rendered to the church? What problems has he caused? What obligations and duties should pastors be responsible for performing? How has Edwards met or failed to meet his obligations? Would Edwards's time be better spent teaching the nearby Indians? Why or why not?

  2. Both novels and plays were attacked in late-eighteenth-century America as frivolous, extravagant, and morally bankrupt. Cultural leaders like Thomas Jefferson proclaimed that novels were a "great obstacle to education" and insisted that Americans should spend their time in other pursuits. During the Revolutionary War, theater was seen as so dangerous that Congress declared it illegal. Imagine that you have been hired to produce a public relations campaign to promote either Susanna Rowson's novel Charlotte Temple or Royall Tyler's play The Contrast. How will you assure eighteenth-century Americans that the novel or play is worth their time and that it in fact produces good morals?

  3. Imagine that Phillis Wheatley has asked you to be her literary agent. Given the racial prejudice that Wheatley faced in her attempts to publish her work, design a plan for marketing her poetry to an American publisher. What qualities of her work will you emphasize? What ethical questions are raised in making your choices? Be sure to anticipate the objections that you might hear from a white eighteenth-century publisher.



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