Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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

11. Modernist Portraits

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•  Using the Video
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•  Activities
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Activities: Author Activities

Wallace Stevens - Teaching Tips

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  • Though students may find Stevens's poetry difficult, some of the ways his poems engage the central concerns of modernism are quite accessible. To help students better understand the issue of multiple perspectives, ask them to explain why the speaker of "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" feels it is important to look at the blackbird from so many different vantage points. You might include a creative response to help them further appreciate the idea of perspective by asking them to compose a similar poem of their own.

  • You might include Stevens in a consideration of other modern poets who use material objects to comment on the human condition in the modern world. The poetry of William Carlos Williams or Marianne Moore, for example, would help to elaborate on the modernist search for meaning in a world that challenges humans' ability to locate it.

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