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

10. Rhythms
in Poetry

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

Activities: Overview Questions

Instructor Overview
A brief description of the literary movement within its historical context.
• How did World War I affect the way that Americans imagined themselves? How is this change reflected in the writings of the era?

• How do the authors in Unit 10 question or affirm individual identity? How do race and gender complicate what it means to be an American?

• How do these writers use the vernacular? How does the idiom of Williams, for example, differ from that of Hughes?

• How do these authors strive to broaden our concept of what it means to be American? How do they use different strategies to imagine and address marginalized peoples?

• What qualities are common to all the writers in this unit?

• How does the war affect the poetry of this period? How is this poetry also influenced by popular culture?

• How do physical spaces influence this literature? How does the American city, specifically Harlem and Chicago, shape the production of American poetry of the 1920s and 1930s? What events changed the face of American cities in the 1920s and 1930s? How are those changes reflected in the poetry?

• Does American literature have to be written within the borders of the United States? How do we categorize the literature of expatriate writers? Does poetry have to use an American idiom to be considered American?

• How would you describe modernism, in contrast to other literary movements you have encountered or studied? What values and questions are reflected in the poetry of this movement?

• How does the modernism of American poets writing in America differ from the modernism of those writing abroad? How do race and gender affect the way writers interpret modernism? What assumptions about literature have we inherited from the modernist poets? Can you see the modernist legacy in contemporary writers?

• How do the African American authors in this unit reimagine American identity? How do they challenge the way history has been told and recorded? What other myths about America are challenged by the poets in this unit?

• How do the expatriate writers treat the question of American identity? Why does Greek mythology play a recurring role in American modernist verse?

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