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

3. Utopian

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Activities: Author Activities

Thomas Morton - Teaching Tips

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  • Ask students to read aloud a few sentences from the Morton selection. They will probably be struck by the difficulty of the prose and the proliferation of classical allusions. After reassuring them that Morton's style was intentionally highbrow and difficult (in many ways, the exact opposite of Bradford's prose), you might ask them to consider why Morton chose to write in this manner. Whom was he emulating? To what sort of audience was this text designed to appeal? Students who have some familiarity with English Renaissance writers will probably see the connection and understand that Morton was trying to establish himself as an educated, urbane Englishman who had more in common with people living in London than with the dour Puritans of colonial America.

  • Compare Morton's account of the maypole incident with Bradford's. Ask students to generate a list of where the two stories agree on the facts and where they differ. What is at stake in these different accounts? Which is more persuasive? As your students draw their conclusions, ask them to consider the audiences Bradford and Morton were trying to reach.

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