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

3. Gothic Undercurrents

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•  Using the Video
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Activities: Author Activities

Edgar Allan Poe - Teaching Tips

Back Back to Edgar Allan Poe Activities
  • Poe works very well for spatial analysis and analyses of setting-- that is, for considering the importance of the stories' spaces (e.g., houses, prisons) and the locations (e.g., "exotic" or medieval places and times). In preparation for class discussion, have students draw a picture of the setting of one of Poe's stories and ask them to annotate it with what each aspect of the setting symbolizes.

  • What is haunting Poe's houses? Ask students to contextualize Poe's use of the haunted house through comparing his use with Henry Ward Beecher's "haunted house" in "The Strange Woman."

  • Students are often quick to pick up on the "unnatural relations" between Usher and his sister in "The Fall of the House of Usher," but are unclear what to make of them. It can be helpful to point out that incest is a common theme in early national literature (Melville's Pierre is another famous example). Why would early national writers in general, and Poe in particular, be interested in incest as a theme?

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