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



3. Gothic Undercurrents

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

Activities: Creative Response

  1. Journal: Write a letter to Goodman Brown, Rappaccini, Ahab, or Emily Dickinson in which you try to soothe their anxieties. What could you say to these tormented figures that might comfort them and ease their fears about people, society, or God? Do you think you could persuade them to adopt a more optimistic outlook? What points would you have to emphasize? Do you believe your own arguments?

  2. Poet's Corner: First, try summarizing the "argument" of Dickinson's poem #1129 [Tell all the Truth but tell it slant--] in prose form. What problems do you encounter in doing so? Can you take into account all of the words and punctuation of the poem as you write your summary? If not, what do you have to leave out in order to make the argument coherent? Second, try writing a poem in the style of Dickinson that expresses one of your beliefs. Imitate her spare style, use dashes, and see how briefly and efficiently you can express your views. Are you able to translate the belief into a Dickinson-like poem? What problems do you encounter?

  3. Doing History: Consider some gothic "texts" of our own day: you can find myriad examples in literature, film, television, and video games. Do you find in the current upsurge in gothic subject matter the spirit of Hawthorne, Melville, and Dickinson? Why or why not?

  4. Multimedia: American gothic representation has always been interdisciplinary: as a mode that is meant to affect the emotions as well as the intellect, it can be seen in painting, photography, drama, film, television, and video games. Using the American Passages image database, construct a multimedia presentation in which you use visuals to develop a definition of "gothic." What elements or characteristics cause these images to cohere into an identifiable set of concerns, ideas, or assumptions?

  5. A Woman's View: In 1999, Sena Jeter Naslund published Ahab's Wife, or, The Star-Gazer. In this novel Naslund imagines what life was like for Ahab's young wife. Write a response to one of the works you have read using the perspective of someone who is not given voice in the text. For example, you might rewrite the opening of Moby-Dick from Queequeg's perspective or a scene from The Scarlet Letter from Pearl's point of view.



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