Activities: Video Activities
What is an American? How does American literature create conceptions of the American experience and identity?
Video Comprehension Questions: How does Frederick Douglass learn to read? Why does literacy become so important to him?
Context Questions: Why do you think Harriet Jacobs published under a pseudonym? What kinds of anxieties did she feel about making her story public? How did her narrative engage with nineteenth-century ideas about womanhood?
Exploratory Questions: How do the writers featured in the video use formulas and conventions to tell their stories, yet still manage to speak in their own authentic voices?
How are American myths created, challenged, and re-imagined through this literature?
Video Comprehension Questions: What kinds of racial stereotypes does Stowe employ in developing the characters of Uncle Tom's Cabin?
Context Questions: How do slave narratives recast the American ideal of the "self-made man" to fit African Americans? How does Frederick Douglass, for example, build on and transform the legacy of Benjamin Franklin?
Exploratory Questions: How do you think abolitionist rhetoric might have influenced the civil rights movement in the 1960s? How do you think it influenced subsequent treatments of race in American literature?
What is American literature? What are the distinctive voices and styles in American literature? How do social and political issues influence the American canon?
Video Comprehension Questions: What is "sentimentality"? To what kind of audience was sentimental rhetoric designed to appeal?
Context Questions: What is the relationship between Jacobs's account of her slavery and escape and Douglass's account of his? How does she borrow and modify some of the conventions Douglass pioneered in his autobiography? Do you think they wrote for the same
kind of audience? How are her concerns different from his?
Exploratory Questions: How do slave narratives draw on the seventeenth-century tradition of captivity narratives? How did slave narratives influence the work of later African American authors (Charles W. Chesnutt, James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, or Toni Morrison, for example)?
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