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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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8. Regional Realism   



8. Regional
Realism


•  Unit Overview
•  Using the Video
•  Authors
•  Timeline
•  Activities
- Overview Questions
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Activities
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Activities
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Activities: Author Activities


Alexander Posey - Teaching Tips

Back Back to Alexander Posey Activities
  • In a commencement address that he delivered at Bacone University, Posey celebrated the achievements of Sequoyah, the Cherokee who created a syllabary that enabled his tribe to record its language in written form. Later, Posey wrote one of his most famous poems, "Ode to Sequoyah," on the same subject. Have your students read "Ode to Sequoyah" out loud. Ask them to think about why Posey might have identified with Sequoyah. What is the role of writing in Indian culture, according to Posey? What is the relationship between Posey's representations of Indian dialect and Sequoyah's creation of a syllabary for the Cherokee language? You may want to define the ode, a subgenre of the lyric, for students. An ode (from the Greek aeidein, to sing, chant) is more than a poem that celebrates an occasion or individual; it is a poem that celebrates language and investigates its power to combat mortality and the ravages of time. Why is the form of the ode, then, an appropriate one for discussing Sequoyah? You may want to have students compare Posey's poem to classic odes such as John Keats's "Ode to a Grecian Urn" or Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind."

  • Although the Fus Fixico letters (found in the archive) were sometimes reprinted in Anglo newspapers like the Kansas City Star and Posey was frequently asked to contribute to larger, national newspapers, he generally confined his publication to the Indian Journal. Ask students to consider why Posey was not interested in syndicating his work to a larger audience. How might nineteenth-century white Americans have responded to the Fus Fixico letters? How might they have responded to Posey's representations of Indian dialect? Why might Posey have been invested in keeping his work specific to his local community?




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