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

7. Slavery and

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

Activities: Overview Questions

Instructor Overview
A brief description of the literary movement within its historical context.
• How do racial divisions in nineteenth-century American culture exclude African Americans and Native Americans from American ideals of liberty and inclusion?

• How do texts by African American and Native American writers expand and transform concepts of American identity and citizenship?

• What are the distinguishing characteristics of the genre of the slave narrative? How was the genre developed, adapted, and modified by the writers included in this unit? How does the slave narrative compare to the captivity narratives written in the seventeenth century (Mary Rowlandson's narrative, for example)?

• How do ideals of domesticity, femininity, and sentimentality shape nineteenth-century American literature and reform movements?

• How do the regional differences between the American North, South, and West (geographic, economic, and demographic) influence antebellum literature?

• What is the relationship between oral expressions such as Sorrow Songs and printed literature? How did African American oral traditions influence American music and literature?

• What is the relationship between slave narratives and captivity narratives? How did the genre of the slave narrative influence the development of autobiographical writing and the novel in America?

• How does abolitionist rhetoric expand and transform the ideals set out in foundational national documents such as the Declaration of Independence?

• How do black writers revise the myth of the "self-made man" to include African Americans?

• How do both abolitionist and pro-slavery writers use biblical imagery and Christian ideals to support their positions?

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