Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

Monthly Update sign up
Mailing List signup
American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
Home About Unit Index Archive Book Club Site Search
3. Utopian Promise   

11. Modernist Portraits

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

Activities: Author Activities

John Dos Passos - Teaching Tips

Back Back to John Dos Passos Activities
  • Students will likely be bewildered by the opening sections of the selections "Newsreel" and "The Camera Eye." Encourage them to note what the headlines are about and to see trends in the snapshots. They should eventually see that many of the headlines are about labor struggles and many others are about money-making and business. This should lead them to realize that these issues are very much interrelated. The relationship between the wealthy and the struggling workers will arise again in the "Mary French" section, and Dos Passos will not make explicit what he is saying about these coexisting groups. Students should speculate on what Dos Passos implies about the parallel lives of the wealthy and poor that intersect in the character Mary French. Some background on capitalist expansion and the labor movement would be useful to help students understand what exactly is at stake in the work that Mary does and in the description in "The Camera Eye."

  • A look at modern art, especially political art, would work well with this selection. The collages of Picasso and Braque, for example, demonstrate visually the fragmentation associated with modernity that appears in the "Newsreel" pastiche. You might break students into groups to look at different images together and make connections to the Dos Passos excerpt. You might also ask them about the role of popular culture in the making of art and discuss why taking clips of songs and newspapers (which Picasso's collages, for instance, also do) and pasting them together should be considered art.

Slideshow Tool
This tool builds multimedia presentations for classrooms or assignments. Go

An online collection of 3000 artifacts for classroom use. Go

Download PDF
Download the Instructor Guide PDF for this Unit. Go


© Annenberg Foundation 2017. All rights reserved. Legal Policy