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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

Gertrude Stein - Author Questions

Back Back to Gertrude Stein Activities
  1. Comprehension: Try to pinpoint some of the ways Stein uses the terms she has selected. What exactly does she mean by "repeating," in The Making of Americans, for example? What is it exactly that she repeatedly intends to "begin"?

  2. Comprehension: What are the objects examined in Tender Buttons? Are there any hints about why they are described as they are? What is "A Piece of Coffee"? Why do you think "A Red Hat" begins, "A dark grey, a very dark grey, a quite dark grey is monstrous ordinarily"?

  3. Context: Much of modern art and literature shows an interest in displaying the world as bewilderingly fractured and fragmented. Consider the fragmentation of Stein's writing in conjunction with a contemporary work of art by a cubist painter and with John Dos Passos's pastiche of headlines and newsreel materials. How do all these works represent the modern world and what comment might they be making on modern modes of living?

  4. Exploration: You might make fruitful comparisons between Stein's The Making of Americans and Walt Whitman's Song of Myself, which seeks common attributes of humanity while also celebrating diversity. Find passages in both works that suggest to you common threads in the two writers' projects. Where do they diverge?

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