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

8. Regional

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Activities: Author Activities

Bret Harte - Teaching Tips

Back Back to Bret Harte Activities
  • Harte's literary reputation has suffered for what critics have historically understood as his sentimentality and romanticism. Recently, however, some literary scholars have claimed that Harte has been misunderstood and that his stories are much more cynical and ironic than has been appreciated. Ask students to think about whether they would characterize "The Outcasts of Poker Flat" as an example of sentimentality (you might refer back to Unit 7 for a discussion of sentimentality) or as participating in a more clearly realist tradition. How ironic is the tone of Harte's narration in this story? What is the relationship between irony and realism?

  • Have your students write articles for the Poker Flat newspaper in which they report on the fate of the "outcasts" from the perspective of a Poker Flat inhabitant.

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