How do place and time shape the authors' works and our understanding of them? Video Comprehension Questions: Why did thousands of people go to California in the 1840s and 1850s? Context Questions: What was the difference between Ridge's and Whitman's views of the railroad and the people who worked on it? What role did the railroad play in American expansion? Exploratory Questions: How did Cooper bring American history into his works? What events did he see as appropriate for his historical novels? How did his use of American history affect subsequent American literature?
What is an American? How does American literature create conceptions of the American experience and identity? Video Comprehension Questions: What different groups inhabited the American West in the nineteenth century? Context Questions: Why did Cooper use female body imagery to describe the American landscape? What role did women play in American expansion? How did this role conform to and deviate from nineteenth-century ideals of femininity and domesticity? Exploratory Questions: How did Ridge critique U.S. policy in California in his novel The Life and Adventures of Joaquin Murieta? How did his creation of a bandit hero affect American mythology and the development of later American literary heroes?
How are American myths created, challenged, and reimagined through this literature? Video Comprehension Questions: What is "Manifest Destiny"? Who was excluded from the America that nineteenth-century proponents of Manifest Destiny envisioned? Context Questions: What is the relationship between Joaquin Murieta, the outlaw hero, and Natty Bumppo, the woodsman who lives on the border between Native American and white culture? How do these characters challenge the societies they live in? How are they implicated in the very systems they oppose? Exploratory Questions: How did Walt Whitman's ideals of inclusiveness shape American literature and American poetry?
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