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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   



16. The Search For Identity

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

Activities: Context Activities

Core Contexts
Escaping Their Cages: Performance Artists in the Twentieth Century
Imagine that you arrive for a concert, only to see all of the musicians do, well, nothing--no singing, no playing, no dancing. Would you feel you had been cheated out of a show, or would you feel invigorated by the concert's daring "newness"? Many performance artists would hope for the latter. Unrestricted by the bounds of traditional materials and freed from the need for museum ... Go

Memorials: The Art of Memory
Houses can be robbed, physical bodies assaulted, and rights taken away, but memory, we like to think, is inviolable. We are formed and defined by what and how we remember, and when our memories are called into question, so too are our identities as individuals. For example, consider how in Toni Morrison's "Recitatif," Twyla is never more distressed than when she realizes that for years ... Go

Collage: Putting the Pieces Together
When young children cut pictures out of magazines and glue them haphazardly to poster board, they probably do not realize that their projects grow out of an artistic movement invested in an aesthetic of social change. Like performance art, assembly and collage have allowed artists to explore the ways in which individuals and communities negotiate radical societal changes. To create assembly... Go


Extended Contexts
Gay and Lesbian Identities in Contemporary American Writing
In the cultures of the West, the literary arts have been energized by a gay presence for as long as there have been arts at all. Over the course of American cultural history, however, that presence, and its importance, have not always been recognized and understood. In the American Renaissance, Walt Whitman stands out as a powerful representative of a gay identity and poetic ... Go

Locking the Gates: The City within the City
The "city within the city" has long been understood to mean urban enclaves with names like Little Italy, Chinatown, the Barrio, or Boystown. The literature included in this unit contains richly descriptive accounts of such communities, including Maxine Hong Kingston's Chinatown, Sandra Cisneros's Chicano neighborhoods, and Leslie Feinberg's queer district. These authors' characters, ... Go



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